How To Blast Through A Plateau

Stephen Devine PT Tunbridge Wells aged 48 years old 2019
Me Aged 48 2019

Have you been training progressively?

If you’ve been training for a reasonable length of time you are going to hit a plateau. In this short post I’ll show you how you can blast through it using some very simple strategies.

German Volume Training

I’m going to steal from Charles Poliquin and utilise one of his favourite training methodologies, /German Volume Training.

German Volume Training or GVT was popularised by Charles Poliquin and was wrapped up in a credible story that saw him travel to Germany to investigate their training methods. Here he claimed to have discovered that Weightlifting coach Rolf Feser would have his trainees perform ten sets of ten for various movements in their workouts.

The story went on to relay astonishing muscle gains achieved by these weightlifters that bumped them up into higher weight categories for competition (Although this is rarely a desired outcome for a weightlifter)

Scientific studies are thin on the ground for this style of training and the only one I’ve heard of was carried out in 2018 with a small sample size and failed to find any significant difference from a more traditional approach.

This, however doesn’t mean that this protocol is without merit and in fact I think that as a trainee in your forties or beyond it would be worth a try to help you blast through a plateau.


This protocol is probably best utilised for a short period of time say no more than 30 days or 8 workouts. Whils you only need to perform two of these workouts per week this should be supplemented with plenty of cardio, walking and general activity on rest days.

Example two day routine routine – Monday Workout #1 and Thursday Workout #2

Example three day routine – Monday Workout #1, Wed Workout #2 and Fri Workout #1. Alternate the days on the following week.

Workout #1 Lower Body


In the video above I’m performing some high rep squats which can certainly help you blast through a sticking point. However in this short post I’m going to recommend doing 10 x 10. That is ten sets of ten reps and by the end of the workout you’ll have performed one hundred reps!

This will will kick you like a mule so make preparations for how you’re going to feel for the next few days following this workout. Buckle up it’s going to be rather unpleasant.

But the upside is that it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll have created a stimulus strong enough to elicit a response. A response that will blast you through that sticking point.

How To Perform Them

  • Sets & Reps – 10 x 10
  • After your warm up which should include raising your heart rate, some mobility and some movements closely related to the ones you’re about to perform then start your sets.
  • This is your workout, nothing more and allow approximately 2 mins between sets.
  • No other accessory work or finishers.
  • Remember this isn’t about balance or symetry this is about blasting through a plateau!
  • If you’ve got energy left over for accessory work then you haven’t pushed hard enough with these sets.

Workout #2 Upper Body – Pull

Rack Row – I Am Devine PT
TRX Row – I Am Devine PT

Rack Row or TRX Row

We could have gone for pull ups but to make it a little more accessible to everyone I’ve chosen a rowing type of movement. 100 pull ups would exclude many from getting through the entire workout but it is definitely worth working towards and again will produce noticeable results.

This movement can be performed as you see it here in a rack or if that’s not possible you can use Gymnastic Rings or TRX straps with similar results.

Old school thinking was that pull ups gave the back its width whilst rows provided the thickness.

How To Perform Them

  • Sets & Reps – 10 x 10
  • Keep your body rigid like an ironing board and don’t be tempted to dip or ‘break’ at the hips and launch yourself upwards.
  • This is a strict movement.
  • Upon reaching the top stick out your chest and arch your back slightly as if you’re striving to break the ticker tape winning a race.
  • This encourages the shoulders to remain low and drives them back thus contracting the large musculature on the back of your body.
Steve’s back at 46 yrs old
Steve’s back without rubbish lighting

Workout # 2 Upper Body – Push

Bench Press – Free Weights Or Some Machines

What day is it? – International Chest Day!!!

Every monday in your average gym is filled with its members grunting and straining under the bench press. In the video above I’ve given you an alternative. This machine does nicely in replicating how the bench press feels and more importantly its stimulus.

You can do equally well with a normal free weight bench press or perhaps even a Smith Machine too although some of these are better than others.

How To Perform Them

  • Sets & Reps – 10 x 10
  • Set yourself under the bar in such a way as the position allows you to exert maximum force. You should feel that the position is strong and stable. If it’s too high or low it will limit how much you can push and therefore you just adjust accordingly.
  • Keep a smooth cadence for the reps.
  • If using free weights then it’s not such a great idea to go to failure without a spotter.
  • Alternate your sets – Push & Pull ie Bench and Row.


Here is probably the simplest way to blast through a plateau using just three different movements. Nothing fancy or complicated. It will force you to dig down and develop some grit to get through all of the sets and reps and consequently the intensity will be quite high.

Do NOT be tempted to add more movements to the workouts just put more effort into the sets that are programmed.

About the Author Stephen Devine

Steve not just a skilled Crossfit Coach, but a top-tier CrossFit Competitor who's ranked in the top 1% worldwide in the 2023 Crossfit Open! And this is despite spending six weeks on crutches following surgery to fix a broken ankle just a year ago. He's Qualified as a Crossfit L1 Coach, Crossfit Gymnastics, and is also a qualified Olympic Weightlifting Coach.

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