How to Add Variety to Any Given Exercise - The Muscle PhD

How to Add Variety to Any Given Exercise

As a bodybuilder, you’re constantly looking for new ways to increase in size, get more gains, see more progress, lift heavier weights, and look better than you did the day before. However, you’ve probably been at it a while, and you’re starting to see that you’re not making as much progress as you used to.

Is it because you’re past your peak? Have you plateaued? Is your body so used to lifting weights that any progress is going to be unnoticeable? You’ve probably had one or two of these questions floating around in your head.

The answer is that no, you’re not losing any progress, it’s just that you’re not giving your body the incentive that it needs to grow! You can’t expect your body to grow just as much as it did when the exercises you’re doing were new and foreign to them, because it doesn’t have as much of a challenge anymore.

If there’s one piece of advice we could give you that’s guaranteed to increase your gains, help you see results quickly, and keep you continuing to grow, it’s to change up your exercise selection. In other words, add variety to your exercises in order to keep your body on its figurative toes.

Slow Gains? Your Body Is Bored

Doing variations on squats

Think about it this way: no matter if it’s your arm, leg, or chest day, do each of these days involve a specific workout that you do in 80% of each of your workouts for that body area? Chances are that same movement is what’s stopping you from growing.

No, you haven’t plateaued, your body didn’t get used to lifting weight. But if in every chest workout you do the basic bench press, and in every leg workout you do squats, how will your body find any incentive to grow?

Your gains are becoming smaller because 80% of your workouts feature the same exercises. In fact, you’re guaranteed to stop improving if you focus on the same workout. If you love or are comfortable with a workout, that might actually be what’s stopping you from growing.

How You Can Add Variety

We’re not saying to try any of the super unorthodox training methods out there. What if you just love doing squats, does that mean you need to give up on them entirely? Not at all! In fact, just with squats alone you can come up with nearly endless variations.

The key point is that every exercise has almost endless varieties to it. For squats, simply changing your stance can have a huge impact on your gains. Instead of a flat foot stance try elevating your heels during a squat.

You can do a wide stance squat, an ultra wide stance, or closed stance squat, you can even point your toes outwards and forward, that’s because your toes can actually help improve your squats, we recommend watching our “Optimizing Squats for Muscle Growth” video if you want to learn more.

Taking a step away from stance variations, you can do banded squats or chain squats. You can tinker with your bar placement to have them high, moderate, or low. What about Smith machine squats, Zercher squats, or hack squats?

The main point you need to take home is that just because you like one exercise, that doesn’t mean you should do it all the time, nor should you give up on it entirely. Mix and match these squat variations with their stances and you’ll have many variations to choose from.

Your Homework: Challenge Yourself by Adding Variation

If you really want to get the hang of adding variations to your exercises, we recommend this challenge. For the next 3 months, write down a minimum of 30 different variations for each exercise you do.

Simple enough? You then never repeat a variation to any movement you do. So if you’re doing a bench press, for example, you’ll come up with 30 different variations for your bench press exercise and not come back to your main exercise variation until you finish all your new variations.

Adding variations to benchpress

If you do this for the next year, even after 3 months you’ll notice that you’re making more gains than you’ve made in the last 5 years of your training!

We hope this article helped you get the hang of adding variations to your exercise, we’ll see you in the next article!

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