• Today 174cm, 64kg 25 years old, gender male
  • Last year 174cm, 74kg 24 years old, gender male

I also did some medical testing last year, my testosterone slightly below average but not considerably.

Last summer I went to the gym for the first time, had already a base of bodyweight training but was incredibly weak.

first day:

65kg ATG squat

60kg Larsen press (bench press with 0 leg drive and a completely flat back)

75kg deadlift (stiff legged, close foot stance)

24kg weighted chin up (supinated grip)

28.75kg weighted chin up (neutral grip)

35kg weighted dip (close grip)

Since at the time Matthew Zlat was the champion in weighted calisthenics, and he still is as he has a 195kg weighted dip and a 120kg weighted pull up and a +35kg weighted one arm pull up whilist having a bodyweight between 95kg to 115kg depending on the season so he is not the average short and skinny calisthenic guy that can pull a lot of weight because he is light like a fly, this dude is huge... I decided to follow his program that is freely available on yotube or reddit

I performed this program for about 2 months and a half together with another gym pall, after two months I was stuck at:

  • 48kg on my chin up

  • 80kg on my larsen press

  • 127.5kg deadlift (still stiff legged)

  • 85kg squat

  • Tricep dip was stuck at 45kg because I was afraid to tear my pec if I tried heavier even tho I could have probably pushed around 60kg. I mean did actually load more weight on my dipping belt, got to the dip bars... but I was always terrorized to actually try, so I just went down and unloaded. I remember actually feeling weak on my knees when standing in the support position ready to dip down...

Since I was feeling like I was hitting a plateau, I started going to the gym 7 times a weak instead of 3 and added a lot of isolation movements on top of the Zlat program, in those two weeks I had a spur of strength gain in a few exercises:

  • 52.5kg chin up

  • 92.5 larsen press

  • deadlift remained the same

  • 92.5kg squat

  • tricep dip remained the same

  • Made a lot of strength gains on a bunch of isolation exercises like variations of curls and tricep or leg stuff

After that I kind of hit another plateau and after a while I stopped going to the gym regularly, until I stopped completely.

Now again after a year of no serious training, I started again, went from struggling to do bodyweight chin ups to being back at 30kg chin up one rep max (chest to bar, no swinning) in a few weeks.


  • How do I prevent the stall in strength gains that happened last year?


probably someone already asked this question 1000 times, but fitness changes every year, every year standards are raised and common knowledge changes, the things that got you strong on an elite level in 1980-2010's will probably make you into a mediocre lifter by today's standards, that's why I added "2023" in the title

Edit 2:

Forgot to mention that my gym pall had pretty similar results for doing this same exact program.... except he was heavier and shorter than me so his squat was 120kg and chin up 35kg at the end of the program, everything else was the same except the deadlift, he pulled sumo.

he was 169cm and fluctuated between 77kg to 80kg, I was 174cm and mostly stable at around 74kg


  • Get back my strength from last summer, even tho I lost a lot of lean weigth, to give you the image, my legs went from 59cm to 50cm circumference(I was sitting all the time for almost en entire year since I do programming stuff)

  • Surpass the strength I had last year

  • What’s your body composition like?
    – Thomas Markov
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 0:23
  • @ThomasMarkovwasonStrike last year it was 174cm x 74kg now it's 174cm x 64kg and I'm visibly less muscular and with more body fat, last year I had a 10 pack even after some beers.... nowaydays I have to flex really hard to show any ammount of muscle on my body
    – user104995
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 0:24
  • by 10 pack i mean amount of visible abdominals.... like it was a 10 pack even when bloated by drinking too much.
    – user104995
    Commented Aug 15, 2023 at 0:44
  • Apart from needing a lot of consistency with training, you will also need that when it comes to food and water intake, aswell as the amount of sleep you get. Other than that I would suggest to not do the same exact thing week in week out. Look into the type of programs that powerlifters do for example. They usually have something like a 10 week period in which they have varying ranges of reps and sets to optimize strenght gains.
    – MJB
    Commented Jan 16 at 11:54
  • dude casually adds 20kg on bench in 2 months then another 10kg in 2 weeks... that's not a plateau!
    – Luciano
    Commented May 16 at 8:58

2 Answers 2


Apparently this guy explains that the common mentality of:

plateau = "I gotta do something different to fix this"

is nothing but spinning your wheel.

he equivocates deloads to trying to relive beginner gains in vain whilsit wasting your time, same thing with switching to different variations to try and mimic the progression curve until you plateau on those new variations and then switch again.

What he explains is that when strength plateaus, it means you maximized your technique for that specific lift for that specific weight, you made all the neurological strength you could make for a that specific lift..

therefore the only way to gain further strength is to gain further muscle and gain brute muscular strength instead of technical strength or neurological strength.

He explains that for intermediate lifters, plateaus is when muscle hypertrophy happens the most because the body has no other way to progress.

When one plateaus, the only thing that can happen if they keep doing the same thing over and over again, is either muscle growth or injuries....so if one tries to avoid injuries and chases plateaus it will result in the fastest muscle growth which will in turn "break" plateaus.

Therefore the solution is to chase plateaus and try to hit them as fast as possible and then gain muscle.

He suggests that to speed up muscle gain to break pleateaus one could keep doing the same exercises and instead of switching them for variations he insists that is is better to ADD volume by doing new variations like isolation exercises or compounds that aim to fix weak points, which seems to be what I instintively done last year


Coming back to this question I believe no one mentioned fatigue.

You were training 3x /week and then increased to 4x /week. You decreased your capacity to recover from one week to another, which could have caused you to progress more slowly. You could try scaling it back to 3x /week for a while and see if that helps. With the added benefit that it's easier to find time to hit the gym 3x than it is 4 (if that's something you struggle with).

If you were following your program in the sequence you described:

squat > Larsen press > deadlift > weighted chin up > weighted chin up > weighted dip

I don't know about you but I'd be dead after squatting AND pressing AND deadlifting before trying pull-ups. A good way to break your plateau would be to prioritize pull-ups, so you perform them at the beginning of the training session when the muscles are still rested.

Another solution would be to reduce volume for exercises that target your back (temporarily) so you can use all your strength on pull-ups and recover for the next session. So lighter deadlifts for a few weeks, for example. Or like your friend, do sumo deadlifts (or trap bar deadlifts) that will focus less on your back muscles.

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