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Beginner Still Or Intermediate

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Just would like some advice please,



Just sighed up on here and after reading some of the other question and answers I can see there are some real experienced and knowledgeable lifters on here who can help put my mind to rest.


My current lifts are


                  Squats are 115kg, 253lbs for 3 sets of 5. 

                  Deadlifts 341lbs 2 sets of 3

                  Bench Press 176lbs 3 sets of 5

                  Press 135lbs for 3 sets of 5




Recently ive been over thinking my training abit and feel like I am suffering some sort of analysis of paralysis. My Squat and Bench have been stuck on the lifts above for about 6 months now. My deadlift and Press are fine and I always seem to make progress on them by just training these lifts once a week


I am still abit unsure if im a beginner lifter still or am I a  intermediate lifter??. Ive tried squatting heavy 2-3 times aweek but the weight 253lbs stays the same or eventually the reps and weight will drop down (ive got to 264lbs a few times but never past that) I have tried squatting 1 time a week but I always feel weaker??. Should I be adding a second day of maybe lighter Squats, like some sort of pause squats or volume work?.  Also same for my Bench Press?. Performing only 3 sets of bench press 1 time a week is obviously not working for me if a week later I dont feel any stronger?.


Sorry for long winded ques. But really need some good advice on this pls.


Cheers guys 




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If you're stuck at the same weight after all that time, I'd say you're transitioning into intermediate territory.


Whether to switch to an intermediate program from a novice one should be based on how well you can recover from the high volume of novice programming.  If you're exhausted to start your next session and can't put in your normal effort, then it's time to make reductions somewhere, whether it be in volume or frequency.  Make sure outside factors are also on point, such as diet, rest, and sleep.


There are various intermediate programs available, such as Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 (where each major lift has its own day -- you can squat as assistance on DL day if you want more squat frequency), Madcow 5x5 which has a weekly progression in weights and two squat days, and there is the Texas Method.


Alternately, you can check out the AFP, something that myself and AdamW came up with (mostly Adam, I just tweaked and gave input).  The outline is here: http://ironstrong.org/index.php?/topic/1157-the-average-fn-program-a-simple-and-efficient-training-template/


That is good for transitioning from a full-on novice linear progression into intermediate, and you may be able to eke a few more early gains out.

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Need to know your body weight/height.

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What's going on is that you need to build more volume in the lifts that are suffering, but in a more intelligent way.  What intermediate programs do is have you squat 2-3 times a week, but change the weight and volume you are lifting so you can make progress on the last day of the training cycle.  Really, that's all that changes with "intermediate" and "advanced" programming.


Something you might benefit from is work specifically on work capacity.  Start with 80% of your squat PR, and you'll work on adding reps every week like this:

  • Week 1: 95 kg (80% of 120) 4x2 (sets x reps)
  • Week 2: 95 kg 5x2
  • Week 3: 95 kg 6x2
  • Week 4: 95 kg 6x3
  • Week 5: 95 kg 6x4
  • Week 6: 95 kg 6x5
  • Week 7: Rest (no squats)

After that, transition to a weekly or monthly progression scheme.  You'll be surprised how well this works to get the squat moving again.  You would be working with sub-maximal weights the whole time and while week 6 will be tough, you'll be able to get through it.  The rest will be necessary for the body to feel good again, and once it does, you'll be able to push the squat higher.


Cycling between volume and intensity based work is what keeps you progressing.

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That looks great thanks will give it ago,


I dont think I am still a beginner as I have deloaded 3 times and brought the weights back up. But always get to round about the 120-125kg mark for my squats and get stuck to increase weight 48 hours later


I have been thinking about training 3 times a week and trying something like this


Mon- heavy day                         Weds- Heavy day                         Fri-light volume day

Squat 3 sets of 5                        Deadlifts 2 sets of 5 or 3              Squats 3 sets of 8-10

Bench Press 3 sets of 5             Press 3 sets of 5                          Bench press 3 sets 8-10

Chin- ladders                              Curls 3 sets 8-10                         Rows 3 sets of 8-10

                                                                                                        Chin- ladders



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Hi Leestrong,

Firstly let me begin by saying I'm round where you are regarding lifts. I weigh at 78kg at 5ft 9.

Started the intermediate program Madcow about 5 months. If you're not aware, it's a cycle that takes 4 weeks to match your PR's so after that technically you should be hitting new records for all lifts every new week.

I started to stall about week 7 to 8 with most lifts, so I restarted the program from srcatch with new numbers but only allowed myself 3 weeks instead of 4 to match my PR. Did it again for the next round and now I am currently on my 3rd time into it.

With lots of good advice from this forum, I added a volume set after workout of one lift, (say OHP) once a week, and simply by adding this process, this 3rd round has been magnificent.

In 5 months:

Squats up 25%

Bench up 10%

Dead up 20%

OHP up 8%

Didn't know if it was due to my age (51) but I had thought that I'd never hit these higher numbers again.

Ferrous advice about increasing volume once you start stalling is Gold advice.


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