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I have been using the Hoist "Rock-It" weight machine circuit at my gym for almost three months now, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I have been making steady progress on most of the machines, in terms of progressing to heavier settings, but there are a few machines where I'm making little to no progress. In particular, the arm, shoulder and chest exercises where I push rather than pull. I appear to be stuck at a beginner setting, where on some of the leg and back exercises, I've already maxed out the machine! I find I can do 3-4 reps at very heavy settings on the machines where I'm not progressing, but I need very light settings to do a full set.

Settings are not correlated with any specific weight on this equipment... on one machine, setting 1 is 10 pounds, on another, 25 pounds, but they all go from 1 to 18, with "beginner" from 1-6, "intermediate" from 6-12, and "advanced" from 12-18 - the machines also move you as you do the exercises, so bodyweight is a factor as well.

I aim to complete a minimum of 10 reps, and step up to the next weight setting when I can complete 12 reps with good form. I only do one set, except for the machines that I've progressed to the "advanced" settings, where I do two sets of 12 before progressing to the next setting.

For the machines I'm not progressing on, should I do heavier settings and fewer reps, or more reps/sets and less weight, or soldier on as I am, and hope for an eventual breakthrough?

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There are advantages and disadvantages to both doing more reps/sets and less weights as well as to doing heavier sets and fewer reps.

However, in general, I suggest you switch from machines to free weights (http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=157022873) because of advantages such as including supporting muscles, coordination, flexibility, and so on.

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I'm not going to downvote the answer, but the question wasn't "should I switch to free weights." –  RI Swamp Yankee Nov 25 '13 at 14:31
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