Suppose you lift 210 x 3. That's an epley estimate of 232.
Now, there's a number of ways to match or beat this:
The real question is which goal to select for next time. Any of these is progress.
My preference is to do things the laziest possible way, lower and slower than you'd like even if you go low and slow. Aiming for 205amrap is the laziest way to progress.
Suppose you walk in with the goal of 205x4 and hit 205x5. Now your epley estimate is 239.
To match or beat:
The laziest, slowest way to progress now is to add 5lbs and match reps with last time. Last time it was adding a rep, this time it's adding weight.
After your last rep, you will have gone from 232 to 245. You're 13 stronger.
For a beginner, this can literally happen workout to workout.
Basically: go lazier, slower, and lighter as possible even if you're already going as lazily slow as possible. This ensures you will still be doing it 5 years from now, lazily lifting weights you can barely think about today.
For a beginner, lazy and slow is already impossibly fast compared to later on. For someone more advanced, it means getting stronger versus getting injured trying to break through a months-long plateau.
Laziness is a virtue.
The lightest weight and fewest reps necessary to beat what you did before. A you lift heavier, you will have to go even lower and slower, that's what periodization is and it's absolutely necessary to make further progress.
Build laziness into your programming from the beginning, because after the first few months the rest of your lifting career will be entirely about figuring out how lazy you *need* to be.
Every decent beginner's program attempts to find a balance between essential laziness, and the incredible speed with which an average beginner's strength increases. Whatever balance point they choose, they choose so it'd work for the majority of people. And, literally anything will work for a beginner. Biking will increase their squat max.
It's a balancing act which, for the beginner, does not matter at all. What does matter is whether they are adequately prepared for when going lazy is the *only* way to progress, and progress is only possible by going even slower than they thought even though they knew they'd have to slow down at some point.
Intellectually, a beginner knows that on SS5x5, adding 5lbs per workout, 15lbs per week, it's cartoonish to think that at the end of the year they'll be lifting 780lbs. They know this, but abstractly.
Bad programs are ones which leave the beginner utterly bewildered by this realization, with no idea at all what to do. They weren't exposed to the virtue of laziness, and struggle as they try to discover it in a state of baffled frustration.
Fortunately, every reputable program has *some* built in laziness to prepare the beginner for this point, so they have some idea of what it means to *need* to go slower in order to make progress.
When choosing a program, literally any will work. Err on the side of a program which is a bit slower and lazier than you'd like. You'll find out why in about 6 months, and thank your past self.
@Pookleblinky I think one reason I can't get out of this plateau may be that I still think of adding 10 lbs when I can do 8 reps with the existing weight -- the approach I took when younger. Instead maybe I should try wrapping a couple of 1 lb wrist weights at the end of the bar and working up to 8 reps with that, then adding 1-2 lb more, and so on.
@KevinCarson1 suppose that's 225.
Adding 10lbs requires 13lbs more strength.
Your 5rm should be about 245. If you add 5lbs to that: 292. You only need to be 7lbs stronger.
The laziest, slowest way is to add a microplate or such and beat your 5rm by any amount of weight. If it goes up by 5lbs, your 8rm should now be 232. The laziest way is to increase 5rm, up to at most 5lbs.
The laziest way is to, paradoxically, work at higher intensity.