The Rep Scheme To SMASH Through Your Plateaus – Garage Strength

The Rep Scheme To SMASH Through Your Plateaus

The Rep Scheme To SMASH Through Your Plateaus

A plateau is when you are stuck at a max weight. You want to bench 300 lbs, pushing towards that big-time goal, and you can’t get over 280 lbs. It is 3, 4, or 5 months of work and nothing seems to be working for you to push to that 300 lbs goal. 

You do all these high-intensity rep schemes. You do 8x3 and 10x2, and still, nothing is working for you. Next thing you know, you’re looking for a quick hack. “What supplement can I take?” or “What training tool can I use to elicit some crazy response?” Still, nothing happens for you and you languish on the plateau with no increase in your maximal single rep performance.

Why is this happening to you? 

1. Not Enough Baseline Strength

It may be as simple as you not having been training long enough. You simply don’t have the experience to execute well at the high percentage weights in training. It typically happens with novice lifters, someone who has been training for only 6 to 12 months. Novice lifters training in the rep schemes of 2 to 6 reps might struggle with high-intensity loads. Novice lifters don’t necessarily know how to coordinate well. Doing 6x2 on the bench press at the same weight you could be doing for 6 or 7 reps.

2. Lacking Periodization

You may also experience a plateau from training at a high load for too long of a period. Not having periodization in your training may have you spending too much time performing doubles and triples, never building a contractile structure. 

Doing hypertrophy work, 5 to 10 reps, will have your muscle growing in size. The muscle growth in size through myofibrillar hypertrophy and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy allows for the muscle to be innervated so the larger contractile structure has better innervation to allow you to bust through lifting plateaus. 

If you are training too long at the high percentages, your contractile structure, the muscle, is not gaining a lot of mass. One benefit of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myofibrillar hypertrophy is that the contractile structure gains mass to allow the improved innervation to produce more force.

3. Something Wild

You know that mechanical load leads to greater levels of hypertrophy. You also know that precise reps can improve neural drive and muscular coordination, both of which lead to more force. 

Unfortunately, most athletes don’t use enough volume. But this isn’t going to be you. A higher level of volume (sometimes insane levels of volume) can lead to greater adaptations which in turn will help you produce more force to bust through your lifting plateaus.


The Secret

When you hit a plateau, you can establish a relative mass. Let’s say you have been stuck at 390 lbs and your main goal is to bench 405 lbs with four plates on each side of the bar, you will apply the secret by basing your max on 405 lbs.

Based on your 405 lbs max, you will go to about 80%. Let’s say that number is 315 lbs. Having your 80% established, you will hit that load for 3x5. You want to be as precise as possible, be nice and controlled, and have good speed. It will be challenging. You might have a failure in the first week. You need to be aware of where and why you are failing (if it happens). Is it technique? It is your pecs? Is it your triceps?

rep schemes

You will rest 2 to 2.5 minutes between each set of 5 reps. If you hit all three sets of five reps, you want to add about 10 lbs the next time you do the workout, which will typically be 5 to 7 days in between. 

The second part of this secret is where the crazy volume comes into play. 

So you already did 3x5 at 80% and now you are going to do 3x17 at 60%. With your 405 lbs hypothetical max, you will drop to 235 lbs for your 3x17.

You are now arm deep in the 80/60 Drop.

You crank out 17 reps at 235 lbs. You just blast through the set, thinking driving through as fast as possible, good elbow extension, and feel the mind-muscle connection. You want to rest 60 to 90 seconds between the sets of 17 reps. 

Why Does It Work?

When you do the 3x5 at 80%, you are working at the upper end of a max effort. It isn’t 90% to make you stale, but heavy enough to push intensity to stimulate your nervous system. Then when you drop to 60%, the decreased mechanical load will help improve your technique and your overall sarcoplasmic hypertrophy. With sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, you will possibly be creating more space for more myofibrils to come in and lead to greater contractile structural force.

Using the sets of 5 and the sets of 17 allows you to cater within a crazy area that allows you to stimulate growth in all areas.

Lifts To Use The 80/60 Drop

Bench press. YES! Incline bench. YES! You can even use the 80/60 Drop with pull-ups if you have the skill. You can even do the 80/60 drop with deadlifts, just use the barbell for the 3x5 and dumbbells for the 3x17. You can do the 80/60 drop with back squats as well; you can do the 3x17 as goblet squats or light squats to just bust through the positions. 

You want to do 3 to 5 weeks of utilizing the 80/60 drop before working in a 2-week transition period of working at a higher intensity. The 80/60 drop can be extremely fatiguing. Be aware of the fatigue leading into the transition weeks to make sure you break through that plateau.  


You want to use the 80/60 drop within the exposure phase or comprehension phase of Parabolic Periodization. Use the 80/60 drop when your muscles feel small and you have no force to develop massive strength. 

Mess around with the 80/60 drop and find out how plateaus evaporate.  

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