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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?

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Pam