Per Webster, variety is defined as the quality or state of having or including many different things. When it comes to training, there can be a lot of variety in the variety itself if that makes any sense to you!
Most people would interpret variety in training as doing different exercises but it is so much more than that. For starters, here are some forms of variety just for weight training alone:
1. Change the sequence of the same exercises that you perform
2. Change the set/rep combo of the same exercises
3. Change some of the exercises
4. Change all the exercises
5. Change the rest interval between sets
6. Perform combo exercises
7. Incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) either during your weight program, i.e. monitoring heart rate within a target range between rest intervals then performing a set increasing the heart rate into cardio mode for short bursts of time. Or you can incorporate something as simple as jump rope every second or third set for short 20 second bursts of high revolution jump roping
Variety even with the forms described above can be different depending on whether you are bodybuilding, strength training, lifting for a particular sport or just to stay in shape.
Note some of the more popular programs out there now like P90X, P90X2, Insanity, T25, Crossfit, they are all based on variety, variety, variety.
Why change anything?
A lot of people ask, why should I change anything if I feel I am making progress or I am happy at where I’m at in my exercise regimen?
Imagine a world where we never change anything. You wear the same clothes every day. You eat the same meals. You watch the same TV show or movie over and over. It wouldn’t take long before your life becomes stagnant. The same is true with exercise.
It has been my experience based on over 40 years of training which included competitive weightlifting, that after a period of time the body becomes a master at adapting to any stimuli you present it. This is especially true the longer you have been training. This is why it is imperative to throw variety into your exercise routine. It keeps the body on guard, fresh and learning new and different motor skills.
If everything stays exactly the same, your body will get ‘efficient’ at going through the motion of the same ole same ole.
Even if you are making progress, eventually it slows down or even regresses.
How much change is necessary?
While the body has an amazing ability to adapt to anything you present it over and over again, the great news is that the body can also be easily confused! As mentioned above, something as simple as changing the exercise sequence totally throws the body out of kilter.
So those that are reluctant to make drastic modifications to their workout routines, can take ‘baby steps’ by starting out with sequence and set/rep combo’s without changing anything else.
As you start to notice a difference, i.e. ‘good’ soreness, strength improvement, overall better well being, etc., then take bolder steps and try some of the other suggestions above.
I always say that your body is like a lab. Experiment with it, see what works and what doesn’t. Exercise is not a ‘one size fits all’ routine. Every body is different which means every workout should be different and always changing.
Take the plunge, what’s the worse that can happen? You can always go back to doing the same ole routine over and over again, sort of like the movie ‘Ground Hog Day’!
How long should I stay with this change?
That question reminds me of an old TV show called F Troop. The cavalry was looking for a fort and they run into a bunch of Indians familiar with the area. The cavalry leader asks the Indian Chief how far to the fort. The Indian Chief says three stone throws away. The cavalry leader then asks how far is a stone throw and the Chief replies I don’t know, how far can you throw a stone?
The moral of that story is that when it comes to exercise and how long should you stick with the change it all depends on the individual, how many years they have been training, when was the last time they changed their routine and how much change are you planning to do next.
Personally, any time I make major changes to my routine I give it 4 – 6 weeks to see if any progress has been made. Minor changes I may give 2 – 4 weeks. Again, each person is different.
Go ahead, you have nothing to lose. It’s like getting a haircut that you end up not liking, your hair will grow back out. The same is true with changing routines, if you don’t like it you can change it again or go back to what you liked before.
Variety adds….Fit Forlife