I've been going to the gym 5 days per week rarely missing a day for the last 4 months now, with the aim to put on as much muscle mass as possible. Until about 3 weeks ago I have been able to increase the weight I have been able lift across all workouts except for squats, which I am still stuck on at a tiny 20kg. I have noticed reasonable gains mostly in my quads, chest, triceps and back.
I've noticed now that I haven't been able to increase my weights, and have on some days even had to reduce the weight I am lifting compared to a weight I could lift perfectly fine the previous session. For example, when I started I was able to do 3 sets of 10 reps of bicep curls using the cable machine at only 14kg and about 3-4 weeks ago was able to do the same volume on 24-26kg, which was exciting. The last 2-3 weeks however I have been struggling, even having to drop to 19-21kg for the last set. I have noticed the same problem across most of my muscle groups including legs, back and chest.
Understandably this is a little discouraging but I'm not sure if it's common to feel like I'm falling behind for a couple of weeks and then I'll jump back and start gaining again or if I am doing something wrong.
This is my current weekly routine below. For all workouts I do 3 sets of 10. Some workouts (marked with an asterisk) I increase my weight each set and often fail on the 8th or 9th rep of the last set. All workouts are listed in the order in which I complete them.
- Squats - Leg Press* - Superset Leg Curl and Leg extension - Moderate intensity bike for 15 mins
Monday: Triceps & Biceps
- Bicep curls with cable machine and straight bar* - Tricep pull down with cable machine and the rope* - "21's" (though I do "15's" i.e. 5 halves, 5 full and then 5 upper curls with the easy bar)* - Skull crushers with the easy bar on a flat bench* - Concentration curls* - Tricep overhead extensions*
Wednesday: Shoulders & Biceps
- Shoulder press - Side shoulder raises - Forward shoulder raises - Upright rows* - Bicep curls with cable machine and straight bar* - "21's" ("15's" same as Monday)* - Concentration curls
Thursday: Chest & Triceps:
- Dumbbell bench press (flat) - Dumbbell bench press (incline) - Dumbbell bench press (decline) - Tricep pull down with cable machine and the rope* - Skull crushers with the easy bar on a flat bench* - Tricep overhead extensions* - Flys (flat) - Flys (incline) - Flys (decline)
Friday: Back & Shoulders
- Lat pulldown - Cable rows (upper back) - Deadlifts* - Rows with the easy bar* - Shoulder press - Side shoulder raises (while lent over on a bench) - Rotator cuffs
As I said this was working well for me up until now - I think I heard somewhere that as you move away from being a beginner in weight training you need to reduce the amount of times per week you spend on each muscle group and increase intensity. Maybe that's where I'm going wrong (looking at the above I'm doing quite a lot for each group except legs and back). Another thing I've thought I might be doing wrong is 3x10 for every workout. I'm guessing some of the bigger workouts like bench press I could come down to 8 reps and try to go a little heavier.
I've looked at routines like 5x5 Stronglifts but they seem to be more for absolute beginners looking to gain some initial strength before serious weight lifting for muscle gain.
Maybe it's just time to change my routine entirely, but then I'm not sure what constitutes 'change' - whether I can just swap the days around and add another set or whether I need new workouts entirely. Maybe I should even just try changing up the order I do things in, I'm not sure.
If there are any noticeably poor decisions I'm making then please let me know. Admittedly I didn't delve too deeply into articles or books about weight training and kind of just structured the above based on what I noticed was producing decent enough gains and what groups I could do next to each other without conflicts (i.e. I tried back day next to arms and my biceps were getting destroyed). I have a feeling there's too much happening but again I'm not even close to being an expert so I have no idea.
Should I try 4 sets of 8? Should I stop going as heavy as I possibly can and just sit on a weight I can comfortably finish all my reps without failing on? Maybe I should try supersetting on different groups like arms? Any advice that can push me over the line of being a beginner to an intermediate weight lifter is greatly appreciated.