Awake & Alive

Exercise Variation is the Key To Smashing Your Fitness Goals

There is a saying that, “The best fitness program is the one you are NOT doing right now!” Your current program maybe working for, but knowing how to properly vary your program will be the key to your long term success.

 “Variation in your training must be systematic” – does that sound like an oxymoron?

Isn’t variation about spontaneity, creativity and freedom?

Let me explain. Most of us have had the experience of great gains on a NEW training program and we have tried to plateau on that same training programs just a few weeks later. What happens?

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Exercise Variation and the Principle of Accomodation

The body adapts (accommodates) to the program and the program is no longer an effective stimulus. It’s a LAW – it’s called the Principle of Accomodation.

It is the principle of Accomodation that is behind the saying that “the best program is the one that you are not using right now.” It is because of the principle of Accomodation that there is no “best program” for strength, hypertrophy, fat-loss, etc. Any program loses its effect after a relatively short period of time.

What can you do when your body has adapted to your current program?

Keep in mind Einstein’s words, “Insanity is doing the same thing, yet expecting a different result.”

Thus, you have to make some form of change to the program, but not just any change. Imagine that you are in a forest and you want to get out of the forest. You can see the open fields in a particular direction. Thus, you start walking. Very likely, relatively soon a tree is in your path. What do you do?

Let’s say your strategy is to simply turn around and walk in another random direction every time you meet a tree then – very likely – you will not get out of the forest anytime soon. (This strategy corresponds to making random changes to your program when your body has adapted).

It’s obvious that to get out of the forest as quickly as possible you should walk around the tree and continue in the same direction (the direction of the fields).

Thus, when your body adapts to a given training program you have to make a change to one or more aspects of the program. These changes should be of a kind that have you continue in the direction of your main goal at that point in time.

What is the best way to vary your program?

There are many ways to change a program, but the one major rule that applies in most situations is that each change you make should allow you to use a heavier load or a more difficult exercise than in your previous program. Change your implement, change the angle, increase reps, etc.

Do this periodically and you will constantly hammer through plateaus.

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Karsten Jensen

Karsten Jensen

Karsten Jensen , founder of Yes To Strength, is the creator of The Flexible Periodization Method and Performance Optimization with Periodization (for the Danish Federation of Sports). Karsten has worked with Olympic, world class and international level athletes from 21 sports over the last two decades. He is the first Strength Coach to create a complete system of periodization. yestostrength.net

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