What types of gains have your workouts been producing over the past six weeks? Are you breaking through new plateaus and enjoying unfettered levels of motivation or does it feel as if heading off the the gym is drudgery at best?
Believe it or not, even seasoned professionals will encounter such doldrums from time to time. One of the main reasons why your training sessions might not be producing results involves repetition. This is why variety is key if you hope to leverage all of the benefits that such a lifestyle has to offer. Let’s take a look at this concept in a bit more detail.
The Element of Surprise
The body is a finely tuned machine. In fact, it is arguably the only machine in existence which will actually become stronger in relation to the amount of stress that it encounters. However, we also need to keep in mind that our bodies are highly adaptive. This is often a problem, as repeating the same exercises ad infinitum will eventually cause us to plateau. Whether referring to weight loss, gaining lean mass, sheer strength, or cardiovascular endurance, the outcome is always the same.
This is also why several scientific studies have shown that exercise variations are critical in terms of improving muscular strength. Without becoming overly technical, muscles that are subjected to different loads and ranges of motion will need to once again adapt over time in order to function as efficiently as possible. To put it simply, this will help you to break through a stubborn plateau.
Anyone who has trained for an extended period of time is likely aware that injuries are always a concern. While many online resources cite issues such as a lack of sleep, improper technique and poor diet to play a role, we also need to mention that failing to vary your training regimen will inevitably increase the chances of sustaining an injury.
We need to look no further than simple mechanics to appreciate this observation. Muscles that are placed under continuous strain within a single plane of motion (such as a standard flat bench press) will respond to a point. They will also become sore due to the temporary damage sustained by the associated connective tissue. The problem here is that failing to add a bit of variety will place specific areas under a greater amount of physical strain. The end result? Common issues such as shin splints, rotator cuff problems and strains of the lower biceps head. This is another major reason why many experts recommend varying your workouts in order to prevent injuries associated with overuse and long-term fatigue.
A Little Bit of Everything
Take a look at the build of a gymnast. Why do these professionals exhibit such musculature and amazing definition? While their rigorous training regimens certainly play a role, we need to remember that these individuals will rarely perform isolation movements. They are instead in the whole-body benefits of compound routines (such as the “iron cross” on the rings or a full pommel horse workout).
This another critical point to mention. Not only will varying your workout routine help to prevent injuries, but adopting new movements can bring the mechanics of other muscle groups into play.
Vanquishing the Boredom Demon
Perhaps your worst enemy within the gym is sheer mental boredom. After all, how can you ever expect to break through to the next level if your mind and body are not on the same page. Ironically, this is one of the most common reasons why some will abandon exercise altogether. The best way to stave off feelings of malaise is to enjoy a sense of variety. After all, would you go to a diner only to order to same meal every day? Why subject your muscles to the same level of blandness?
Make it a point to re-evaluate your routine every six to eight weeks. Now, we are not talking about reinventing the wheel here. Perhaps you simply change up the number of reps or sets per exercise. As opposed to starting off with flat bench, begin with flyes and repeat until failure. Arnold Schwarzenegger was a massive proponent of variety and considering his success, these types of suggestions are impossible to ignore.
The good news is that Trion will allow you to track your progress, to learn other valuable tips and to keep it interesting along the way. Think of it as your digital workout companion when your friends become bogged down into routines that show little signs of progress. Of course, nothing replaces a strong work ethic and the ability to keep moving forward. It is still a well-known fact that embracing a sense of variety is the best way to keep the boredom demons at bay.
Next generation personal trainer and co-founder of Trion