This morning I had a brief conversation with my friend Dale about his current training program. Dale is making great progress, and whenever someone is kicking ass I get stuck working to accelerate that pace even more. It seems most things with the body function with compounding interest. You are either getting better and then getting better at getting better….or getting worse then getting better at getting worse.
There are so many improvements you can make in your program that will yield impressive gains and the one most often incorrectly used is variety. It is powerful, capable of increasing your current progress or slowing you down to a crawl.
Some training systems today are completely centered variety, in an arbitrary senseless selection of it. The idea is to throw as much shit at the body and hope something positive comes out of it all. They use a very cute admonition for those who are not getting what they want: “you didn’t work hard enough to get it.” Which is a great way of dodging responsibility, provided that both parties believe effort in training is the key to progress.
Some systems discourage variety, citing it as wasted effort or a distraction. Some of them do this in the good intention of keeping people focused on specific tasks. You know the saying about good intentions right?
Others still avoid variety to specifically prevent people from noticing all of the things they are not doing, or not getting enough of. This is ok though, the fault will have to remain with the individual who follows the shitty advice. If you are not willing to question yourself, your results, and your progress then it will always remain your fucking problem when they come up short.
I can’t agree to either of the above. Senseless change without an individually guided reason appears to be a slow road. The model will work well if you can somehow avoid ever wanting to achieve a goal, but the day that comes you will begin to experience some issues.
Completely avoiding change maybe the most definitive path to slow gains. NEWS FLASH: if you are a competitive athlete and you are gaining 3-5% total improvement in a years worth of work that is not good. It is absolutely not great, and at all costs must not be labeled “cutting edge”. I know a lot of would be power lifters who total 900-1,100 who have not added even 30 total pounds over a 12 month period. That is pathetic. What is annoying is these same people are charging other people money to be trained by them.
I understand some people are ok with shitty results. I also do not think those people read this webpage, so no need to say much else about them.
I know you are interested in getting better, faster.
Some easily modified factors in the variety model:
- Choice of Tool
- Grip Used
- Stance Used
- COM and BOS changes during the movement
- Rep speed
- Rest periods
- Repetition ranges
- Addition of things which alter how the load is produced, cables, chains, bands
- Number of implements used
- Changes in ROM
- Altered starting and ending points
- introduction of holds and isometrics
- Sequencing of the motion
- Gaze, focal point of view, neck, and head position
These are just a handful of factors are to be tied to every single movement. They can be applied to a single joint movement such as a one arm curl, a multi-joint movement such a squats, a simple movement such as a press, or a complex movement such as a jump shot.
How much variety do you need? Depends on the individual. Depends on the goal. Depends on available options. How much time can you invest, how much do you have before your completion date?
Really this topic must dovetail to the topic of Exercise and Fitness Goals. You do have a goal, right bro?
If someone is “working out” to “get fit” I wouldn’t be surprised if they often find themselves adrift in a floating void. Not going anywhere, not accomplishing much.
If someone is avoiding the topics of training metrics, measurements, and documentation I must guess they are someone who doesn’t care to see what is not happening.
There are many popular programs selling like hot cakes right now that wouldn’t sell for shit if the people buying them were actually measuring the progress they are paying for.
Paying for progress? Yes that is how I see it. I do not sell training or time, I sell results. That is how I view all fitness related programs and products. You are not paying to be taught anything, you are paying to get the tools to achieve new results.
In this example, I am offering you a chance to make better progress. My suggestion is to take new action, and measure it. Do what works.
Figure out what you want to happen, do shit. At each step, you take a look at what happened. Is it bringing you closer to the goal? If not, what needs to change?
No art to be found there, that is simple application of logic and science.