Why You Should NOT Switch Up Your Exercises in The Gym

I’m sure you’ve heard it a dozen times, “you need to always switch up your workouts in order to keep making progress” or “you shouldn’t do the same exercises every workout, switch them so you can shock your muscles to grow”.

Although this may make sense to you coming from your local gym rat; scientific studies show that you will continue to make long term progress if you focus on compound lifts and sticking to those same movements for long periods of time. This will train your body to become efficient in these movements, forcing adaptation (muscle gain, power, stability, etc.) of the body. In fact, if you are always doing something different every workout – it may cause decreases in muscle, strength, and endurance over time.

Heres why:

There is a term called progressive overload that applies to every single form of exercise, whether it be running, weight lifting, dancing, etc. Its the concept of adding more weight, reps, time under tension, or any form of a challenge to that exercise on a weekly or monthly basis. A simple example is if you were bench pressing 135lbs for 5 reps this week, next week you may want to go for 6 reps.

This simple concept forces your body to keep adapting to your increases in demand over time – leading to greater results in the gym. If you are always switching up exercises, you will never be able to keep progressing at specific movements and will have no way to judge if you are actually making progress.

How To Properly Program a Workout:

After you’ve determined what your goals are in the gym, you need to pick exercises that are the best bang for your buck to getting you to your goals. For example, if your goal is to be a power lifter – you’ll want to focus mainly on barbell movements and do them over and over again, throughout many weeks to assure you are efficient at those movements. Increasing workload over time will increase your strength and muscular recruitment during those movements.

Once you’ve chosen the few movements you’d like to work on the most – begin each workout with those exercises, making them your primary focus. These are the exercises that become “staples” in your training sessions – you won’t switch these up. You’ll focus on adding intensity and workload to these specific movements over a number of weeks.

Once you have completed the “staple” exercise – you can now move onto “accessory” work that will further get you to your goals, as well as help you get better at the main exercises you’ve chosen to focus on. A simple example would be – following your main exercise of bench press with a Tricep extension to increase the strength of the Triceps during the bench press.

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