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Exercise

Training variables: Variation

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Doing the same thing over and over for years keeps us stuck, lead to plateaus, is boring and insane.

It doesn´t matter which is our current goal, variation is key to make our workouts different, challenging and get results, how much variation we need depends of the results we want.

There´s not a perfect workout or a program we can follow for months and months, our body adapts to everything so we need to keep changing things and challenging ourselves for our body to respond.

The time we´ve been training determines how long we can stay with the same routine, if we are starting our focus most be learning the exercises and movements until we feel comfortable to increasing weight, the more trained we are the more we need to change and vary our workouts, someone who has been training for 15 years or more may need to change every week.

To add variation to our workouts we can use the training variables we´ve been talking about which are volume, frequency, intensity, rep ranges, progressive overload and the exercises. This all are options we can play with on our workouts to keep our body guessing.

We can also use some advance techniques like supersets, giant sets, circuit training which we are going to talk about in future posts. This techniques are great to help us add variation and we can combine both the training variables with some advance technique according to our goals.

How we add variation to our program depends on many factors, where are we training, how much time per day we have to exercise, how many days a week can we workout, the equipment we have, etc.

There are some fitness experts and people on the industry that don´t consider variation to be necessary and they stick with the same program for months. This is what I think, if we want to look different, if we want to get different results we need to add variation, staying with the same goal for months or years don´t motivate us enough to exercise. We can follow the same program for 6 or 8 months and get results if we are progressing, progressive overload will give us results as long as we continue challenging our body.

Variation is necessary not only to get consistent results but also to add variety, avoid adaptation and keep our workouts interesting and fun.

The easiest and best way to add variation to our program is to change exercises or equipment, we can use compound movements like incline bench barbell press and change it for flat bench barbell press, then instead of using a barbell we can use dumbbells or we can use bands, we can change the grip.

We can start our fitness journey with bodyweight exercises only and we can start with the simplest versions like knee pushups, bodyweight rows and as we keep getting stronger we keep changing the level of difficulty on each exercise, then we can go to compound movements using barbells or dumbbells and then switch to the one missing (barbell or dumbbells) then we can add isolation exercises. Even a small variation in the exercise or equipment has a huge impact on our results.

How much variation we need will depend of our goal, if we want to lose fat then we can stay with the same workout program with almost no variation for 4 to 6 weeks or even 8 considering that we are using moderate frequency and different rep ranges to make sure that we maintain strength and endurance.

If our goal is maintenance we can have more fun on our workout and include different activities so we have the opportunity to try new exercises, or some advance training techniques. As long as we have our macronutrients on check and we´re doing resistance training and some cardio we can maintain our physique while trying different stuff and see how our body responds.

If our goal is muscle growth then we need more variation especially if we´ve been training consistently for some years. In this case it´s better if we keep progressive overload and periodization as a must every week and add variation by changing exercises or equipment every 3 or 4 weeks.

Exercising most be a habit and the only way to have the motivation to workout every day is by doing something we love or at least like or enjoy and keep changing things, we don´t need to make big changes, even the smaller ones have an impact on how we feel when we´re exercising and after.

Let us know in the comments below if you  follow the same workout program for months and how much variation is in your workout program?

It would mean so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam

Exercise

Compound exercises, you need them!

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Every time I pass through a gym I see people doing so many different exercises for each muscle group which for me only makes the workouts more complicated, if you are one of those guys or girls who do a bunch of exercises for each muscle group but, you´re doing them for a reason, and you understand why then that´s great but, many people don´t understand why they´re doing certain things a certain way, they just follow some workout they found on the internet or the one that some  friend recommended them.

In the last posts we talked about bodyweight exercises now let’s talk about compound movements which along with bodyweight exercises are really helpful to get an amazing physique and improve overall fitness and strength.

Compound exercises are multi-joint movements that work several muscles at the same time which gives us the opportunity to lift more weight. The more weight we can lift, the stronger we get, and we gain more muscle (considering that our food program is right). This type of exercises have a lot of benefits including lowering the risk of injuries (considering that we don´t let our ego get in the way), we can do more in less time but it doesn´t mean that it´s going to be easy and we keep things simple.

Performing compound movements with free weights (barbells or dumbbells) is the best option even when we can´t lift the same amount of weight compared to gym machines or other equipment.

My approach to training is old school, sticking with a few basic exercises with high weight and low reps and adjusting some variables according to the goal we´re working on. Since compound exercises are multi-joint movements, we can lift more weight, so they are the perfect option to lift more weight in a low rep range.

Compound movements also require balance and coordination so as we keep increasing the weight our performance will improve too.

With compound movements we can lift heavy weight for 5 to 8 reps for hypertrophy to build lean dense muscle, we can go heavier in weight and lower in reps around 1 to 3 reps for strength and power and we can also lift lighter weight for 12 to 15 reps or even more.

Even when we can lift really heavy weight with this type of exercises I don´t recommend going to high to hit low rep ranges between 1 – 4, the lowest I will go is 5 reps, the reason for this is to avoid injuries, when we go to high in weight to hit the 1 to 4 rep range the chances of getting injured are really high, our body makes a huge effort and we need to make sure that our form and everything is right. If our goal is to improve body composition, to get in our best physique possible and sustain it we don´t need to go that heavy in weight and low in reps, working in the 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 rep range is perfectly fine.

When we are using compound movements it is simple and effective but it doesn´t mean it´s easy. And since we´re working on low reps and high weight things get harder meaning maximum muscle recruitment and high nervous-system activation this is the right stimulus for muscle growth and strength. Here we need to consider recovery, which is as important as our workouts, the central nervous system needs more time to recover so we can´t train the same muscle group 2 days continuously.

If our goal is muscle growth we can create a workout program that combines bodyweight, compound and isolation exercises and that uses both types of hypertrophy on separate days and hitting each muscle twice per week, this will give us the best results but we need to be careful how we design the program.

If our goal is fat loss, we can stay with bodyweight and compound exercises and focus on low rep ranges around 6 to 8 and make sure that we maintain our strength so that we maintain muscle mass.

We don´t need to do a lot of different exercises for each muscle group, keep what works and eliminate what doesn´t work. If we focus on key movements, we can build a great physique that is useful, there´s no reason to look great if we can´t perform great. Our goal is to improve body composition and build a physique we are proud of and that is useful for daily activities at our home or your job.

Let us know by leaving a comment on our Facebook and Twitter account if you like to keep things simple and effective and if you prefer short workouts compared to long workouts?

It would so much to me if you share this post with your friends and family and if you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, together we can help millions live a better life.

Pam