Progress stalled-recommendations for breaking plateau

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JimKe
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Progress stalled-recommendations for breaking plateau

Post by JimKe » Fri Aug 20, 2010 11:56 am

I've recently hit the wall in terms of progress and would like some input.

I'm a 39 yo male; I've been training since my 20s, but with particular focus the last 3-4 years. My progress in the last year has been virtually nil.

My primary goal is fitness, with strength/hypertrophy as secondary goals.

I work out 30 minutes a day 4 or 5 days a week, mostly resistance work but periods of cardio too. I change my routine every 3 to 4 weeks, interchanging powerlifting/body weight/hypertrophy proctocols. I've tried various approaches just to avoid dullness-like low-volume, high volume, CrossFit, bodyweight routines, Testosterone Advantage plan, power lifting etc.

I eat fairly clean-around 2200 calories/day. I'm 6ft, 190#, around 12%BF.

So my question is where do I go from here if I want to improve my muscle mass and BF%? Should I go back to square one like Starting Strength? Should I stick with one protocol for longer periods? Or should I accept that as a middle aged man my decreasing T-levels will preclude me from any more significant gains and I should be happy with maintaining my current state?

Thanks,

Jim


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Post by Immortal » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:12 pm

dont give up :(, if nothing is working for you right now, take like 2 weeks off and just do some sports, or even just take a complete time off from lifting, I mean sure u might lose a little bit of muscle and gain just a very small fraction of weight, but guess what, as soon as you start back up, youll be making gains as if you were a 20 year old picking up weights for the first time :)

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Post by hoosegow » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:10 pm

I feel your pain Jim. I'm 38 and progress really slows down. IMO, you are going to have to decide what you want. Do you want to get stronger and more muscle mass or do you want to get leaner? It is very hard to do both. To increase your strength and muscle mass, ya gotta eat. 2200 calories isn't even close. I'd double that if you want to grow. Before you make that decision, you need to consider long term consequences. You will sacrifice your health.

We are getting at that age where the decisions we make can really effect our health. It comes down to a personal decision and personal goals.

FWIW, as a suggestion that several other guys will echo here is to check out the Wendler 531 program. I think it is pretty good especially for us older guys.

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Post by Jungledoc » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:28 pm

First of all, there are a whole lot of guys on this forum who are older than you, and will probably disagree with your implication that 39 is too old to make progress!

Here are my more or less random thoughts and reactions.

First, every 3 to 4 weeks is probably too often to make a complete change in protocol. That doesn't give you a chance to even find out what a program can do for you. I might vary assistance lifts, or make slight changes in the set-rep scheme once in a while, but for a complete change of routine, I'd wait a few months at least.

Going back to a basic linear program is not a bad idea. Start with working weights that are well-within your ability, and then work up.

Another idea is to go to a periodized program. That builds the variety into the plan. Lou Schuler's "The New Rules for Lifting" is one example. It gives you several templates for each of several "sub goals" that you can move between every 12 weeks.

A great program that several of us use is Wendler's "5/3/1". It varies the rep-set scheme weekly, and allows you to go as many reps as you can on the last set, so you are never "wasting" work by doing to little. It also has a built-in deload plan.

Another plan that looks very interesting to me is called APRE. There's an article about it here:
http://www.sportsperformancecoach.com/
This is more of a way to manage the reps and sets, rather than a specific lifting protocol, and requires you to put in quite a bit of thought on exercise selection, etc.

Another issue that Immortal alluded to is the issue of deload, rest and recovery. Whatever your protocol, you should allow for immediate recovery (between sets) day to day recovery (between lifting days) and long-term recovery or deload. This last issue is often overlooked. You can take time off like Immortal suggested, or you can insert a week of light lifting, either a light imitation of your usual lifting, or just random lifts that you are interested in trying. The problem with many people is that they cannot stand to lift light. They are afraid that they are wasting their time or being wimpy. So they push the weight up a little, or do a bunch more volume than planned. As a consequence, they don't get the benefits of the deload.

Finally, it doesn't sound like you are eating enough to make much progress. You might try just increasing your intake, particularly of fat and protein, and see what happens to your progress.

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Post by TimD » Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:13 pm

I'm one of the older guys , along w/Buster/Jungledoc Hoose mentioned. I have a couple of points. You say you're into "fitness" first, hypertrophy and strength second. How do you define fitness, and how are you going to measure improvement.? Like Hoose said, decide what you want and define a way of measuring it. It sounds like rotating cycles of PL, BB and general fitness, as defined by an emphasis on strength, strength -endurance, mobility and CV health are a good thing, but as an oldster (61) I tend to use a modified version of Crossfit, putting more emphasis on ME, doing them altogether. Coach Rutt's stuff is a good example, as is Wendlers 5-3-1. You focus first on ME, then follow it up with CV and / or strength endurance, hypertrophy. BTW, @ 39, you're a young whippersnapper.
Tim


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Post by Jungledoc » Fri Aug 20, 2010 9:42 pm

hoosegow wrote: To increase your strength and muscle mass, ya gotta eat. 2200 calories isn't even close. I'd double that if you want to grow. Before you make that decision, you need to consider long term consequences. You will sacrifice your health.

We are getting at that age where the decisions we make can really effect our health. It comes down to a personal decision and personal goals.
I agree with the suggestion, but I don't agree that you will sacrifice your health by eating more and gaining muscle mass.

We've had some recent discussion here about muscle mass correlating with long life. So don't gain muscle at the expense of massive fat gain, but you may have to put up with some modest fat gain while you are gaining muscle mass. Take that down later.

And I agree that "fitness" does not have a clear, universally-accepted definition. Before the last couple of days, I would have said that strength is easy to define, but after following the "Strong Enough" thread, I can't even say that, but I do think that strength is easier to define than fitness.

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Post by pdellorto » Sat Aug 21, 2010 8:05 am

Jungledoc wrote:First of all, there are a whole lot of guys on this forum who are older than you, and will probably disagree with your implication that 39 is too old to make progress!
Yeah. I'm 38 and I'm in the best shape of my life. Two of my clients are 40+ and have been steadily tearing up their concepts of "the most I'll ever lift."
Jungledoc wrote:Here are my more or less random thoughts and reactions.
I'd second every one of these. I'd mentality composed a reply in the car after I read your post, but Jungledoc got this up before I got back to a PC. This is spot on.

3-4 weeks to too short, give it 8-12 weeks of the same program at least, and don't change while it's still working. Pick something linear to start with (Starting Strength is fine, NROL is fine too) but once it stalls, switch to something less linear like 5/3/1. You'll be happy you did.

And eat some more! That's my "weight cut for competition" level of kcals you described, and I'm 6'4" / 185, BF around 14% or so (or so my scale claims).

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Post by Jungledoc » Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:21 am

Well, we Deific Wizards tend to think alike.

JimKe
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Thanks for all the input...

Post by JimKe » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:47 pm

I appreciate the input, fellas. I will definitely try your suggestions. It's good to hear from people who can relate---and aren't trying to sell me anything.

Jim

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Post by hoosegow » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:12 pm

Jungledoc wrote:
hoosegow wrote: To increase your strength and muscle mass, ya gotta eat. 2200 calories isn't even close. I'd double that if you want to grow. Before you make that decision, you need to consider long term consequences. You will sacrifice your health.

We are getting at that age where the decisions we make can really effect our health. It comes down to a personal decision and personal goals.
I agree with the suggestion, but I don't agree that you will sacrifice your health by eating more and gaining muscle mass.
Doc is right. I semi-misspoke. If you do it to a rediculous amount like I do you start to sacrifice your health, but in general it is a good thing. I really need to start working on my overall health, but I have a few goals I want to reach and I may be doing long term damage to my body. It is a decision I have made with eyes wide open.


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