Q: Is it best to change my workout emery time I go to the gym, or should I stick with the routine I've been using that seems to deliver results?
A: One of the finer arts of bodybuilding is sifting through the numerous exercises and techniques to find what works best for you. On one hand, you're grateful to have finally put together a winning routine, and therefore reluctant to mess it up. On the other hand, you know that variety is what makes training fun and keeps your muscles growing. So why not do both?
Of course, you can't strictly do both, but with a little give and take, maybe you can have the best of both worlds. Start by keeping your time-tested routine; it will form the backbone of your new program. Next, make a subtle change, whether it's the resistance, number of reps or the exercise order. Now you have your new routine, only it's your old routine with a twist.
Here's a summary of the changes you on can make to keep your workouts fresh while maintaining or even increasing their effectiveness.
REPS & RESISTANCE: Try going ultra-heavy once in a while to shock your muscles. Keep the reps in the 3-6 range and don't forget to rest a little longer between sets. On the other side of the spectrum, lighten the load occasionally and bump up the reps to 12-21. The change will be refreshing and your tired body will welcome the reduced load. Whether you go heavy or light, your training volume should stay about the same (volume = reps x weight).
MOVEMENT ANGLE: Small variations in the angle at which a muscle is stressed can make a tremendous difference in the way it responds. You may think you're simply moving the bench a few degrees when you do your bench press at a slight incline, but your pecs believe that you've discovered a new exercise. Your chest will be stimulated in a new way, forcing it to contract somewhat differently than what it's accustomed to. Whether you change your foot placement, grip width or bench angle, or substitute a cable exercise for the free-weight version, modest changes give way to more significant changes in growth.
EXERCISE ORDER: In theory, changing the order of your exercises doesn't really alter your routine. After all, you're using the same movements and doing the same amount of work. Yet it does change the way in which your muscles fatigue, and thus stresses them in a different way. If you always do bench presses first, then you're somewhat weaker on your successive exercises. Do inclines first next time. This is probably the quickest and easiest way to change your routine without making significant modifications.
You can probably come up with some other ways to modify your training without changing the underlying framework. Be creative in developing new workouts and always remember to make training fun.
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