How Often Should You Switch Exercises?
Do you feel like you are stuck in a rut with your exercise selection? Doing 3 sets of 10 reps on everything week in and week out? Or maybe you realise that you should regularly switch exercises but need help on how to put it into practice? We have all seen the people in the gym doing the same thing every week and their strength levels and/or body shape never seem to change…don’t be one of them! (But the next time that you see them, point them in the direction of this blog and they will be eternally grateful!)
So if your progress has stopped then take a few minutes of your time to read this and watch the good times roll once again…
Why should you switch things up?
A very intelligent man called V.M. Zatsiorsky once stated that you won’t get any faster or stronger after 3 weeks on the same cycle!...Just let that sink in for a while after you’ve done 3 x 10 on the Dumbbell Bench Press on a Monday (international chest day!) for the 3rd year running! When you first started doing it you probably experienced quick gains but then after a few weeks, progress seemed to halt and now you’re using a similar weight each week.
This is called the Law of Accommodation…if you do the same thing over and over again you will not get any better at it and can actually get worse…if you notice, this is similar to the definition of insanity!
Your body is an extremely intelligent machine, much more intelligent than any man-made machine ever will be and more intelligent than we will ever fully realise. Your body’s main focus is survival; it doesn’t want big muscles or single digit body fat levels and it will resist you all of the way which is why it is so damned hard to get there. It will adapt to its environment and demands as quickly as possible and do as little as possible to be able to keep at that required level. Your body wants as little muscle as possible to still be able to perform everyday tasks and it WANTS to have body fat stores in case you find yourself in a zombie apocalypse and can’t find any food for days on end…having to eat every 2-3 hours to preserve your big muscles just isn’t practical if you have to survive in the woods!
So, we need to keep ‘tricking’ our bodies into constantly feeling like it has to adapt to new situations so it continues to evolve and progress.
So how do you switch things up to keep progressing?
If you have lots of different pieces of equipment in your gym then use them. If not, then it doesn’t matter but you need to get your creative head on. For these examples I am going to use Triceps exercises…you can change exercise, one week you can do banded triceps pushdowns then next time you do dumbbell extensions, the next you do Tate presses…you get the picture.
You can even use the same exercise and make them different exercises at the same time, stay with me on this one…let’s take the dumbbell triceps extensions, one week you do 3 x 10, then the next week you do this on a different angled bench, the next week you do a 3-3 tempo (3 seconds lowering and 3 seconds raising), the fourth week you do as many reps as possible in 2 minutes. Even though it is the same exercise, something has changed, from reps, to time under tension, to weight used, so to your body it is a different stimulus that it needs to adapt to; thus defying the Law of Accommodation
So to sum up; you need to keep mixing up your training to keep progress rolling. If your progress has stalled, whether that is strength levels, muscle building, weight loss or fitness then you need to start to outsmart yourself with what you are doing in the gym. Just turning up 3/4 times a week and plodding along each time while you’re there just won’t cut it!
If you need any help with this and how to write programs then I am on hand to help. Visit my website www.mattsmallacombept.co.uk or visit my Facebook page ‘Matt Smallacombe PT & Strength Coach’