The great mind of Albert Einstein was credited with saying that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In the realm of fitness training, his statement could not be truer.
Performing the same workout day in and day out for months or even years on end will not reap you any benefits after the first few weeks. Our bodies love to maintain homeostasis, which is a fancy term for ‘status quo.’ This means that your body quickly adapts to the stresses you place upon it and will not adapt further until you employ different stimuli.
In other words, to keep progressing, you have to alternate your exercises.
Preventing stagnation in your workouts is not the only reason to alternate your exercises. Avoiding injury is another huge benefit to a varied workout routine. If you have experienced injuries while working out due to a repetitive workout, try using supportive braces to help you recover.
Let’s dig in a little deeper and discuss some of the reasons why alternating your workout exercises is essential:
Avoiding Repetitive Strain Injuries
Repetitive strain injuries can occur while participating in a workout program that lacks variety. While repetitive strain injuries (RSI) mainly occur in the workplace, they can also happen in the gym. If you’re spending multiple hours a week in the gym performing the same movements over and over, you’re at risk.
An RSI can present with symptoms such as tenderness or pain in the affected area, a throbbing or pulsing sensation in the affected area, loss of sensation or even loss of strength. If the injury involves a muscle, you may observe swelling or inflammation of the muscles and neighboring tendons.
RSI’s most commonly affect your lower back. If you’re experiencing lower back pain, the additional support that a waist trimmer offers may help ease the pain and keep you active.
They say variety is the spice of life, and your workout should have plenty of it.
One of the main factors in a successful training program is the ‘X-factor,’ which is the person performing the program. An athlete must stick to his program, not skip any workouts and bring plenty of intensity to the gym to make the program successful and experience positive results.
But if you’ve been performing the same workout for months or even years, how can you get excited about it anymore? Our brains seek novelty and new experiences to keep us engaged in our activities. New exercises or a varied routine with plenty of different exercises allow your mind and your body to stay engaged and always challenging yourself to reach new levels of development.
A person who enjoys a new, exciting workout program is much more likely to stick with it and not find excuses to skip workouts. Just like spending more time at work should produce more income for you, spending more time at the gym by not skipping workouts should produce more results for you — and it will if you keep it interesting.
Symmetry and Balance
A balanced physique — one with all muscle groups equally developed — not only looks better but is much healthier to maintain. Varying your exercises is a great way to maintain a balanced physique.
Certain exercises may target one muscle group over another. For example, if your back workouts consist of exercises like pull-ups, barbell or dumbbell rows and lat pulldowns, you may have very well-developed lats — but your trapezius might be lacking.
An overdeveloped muscle with a corresponding weakness in a neighboring muscle group is a recipe for injury. In the case of your lower body, we often see quadriceps or hamstring strains when one muscle is underdeveloped in comparison to the other. This can create a dangerous situation where you can tear a muscle or injure the ligaments surrounding the muscle.
If you have tweaked your knee or the muscles around the knees, consider using a knee support. Varying your exercises allows all muscle groups to be worked, as opposed to just a select few.
Each Muscle Group Affects the Other
Your body is a chain of muscles, and each of them interacts with all the others. That’s one of the reasons why compound exercises are so effective, as opposed to performing only isolation exercises throughout your workout — though isolation exercises serve their purpose too. If you are training for aesthetic purposes but want to feel better too, you should be performing compound exercises.
Given that your muscles act together as a chain, consider the fact that you are only as strong as your weakest link. Performing compound exercises allows you to diagnose weak muscles within the chain and helps you vary your exercises more to correct those weaknesses.
The Stabilizer Muscles
While you can identify most of the muscles that an exercise targets, there are always smaller muscles known as stabilizers that most people forget about. When you lift free weights, each exercise targets a set of primary movers, but they also target the stabilizers.
Given that we cannot identify 100 percent of the muscles targeted in each movement, it’s best to take a balanced approach and vary the exercises so that all of the primary movers get targeted without ignoring stabilizer muscles. This will lead to a stronger, more balanced physique.
As a side note: Have you ever noticed a lifter that is lifting relatively light weights, but their hands or body shake as they’re doing it? If you guessed that it has something to do with them having weak stabilizer muscles, pat yourself on the back. Don’t be that guy that shakes uncontrollably when squatting with an unloaded bar on your back.
Alternating your workouts is essential for many reasons. If you’d like to achieve progress more quickly and stay safe doing it, make sure to vary your exercises. Train hard and stay safe!