In beginning, novice weight trainers
seem to make progress no matter what they do. However, eventually
it becomes increasingly difficult to make even the smallest gains
because even the most productive exercises lose their effectiveness
over time. Improvements will decrease and eventually halt, if
the same exercises are continued for a prolonged period of time.
This is known as Accommodation.
One way to attempt restimulating progress is by changing the
exercise routinely executed for a particular muscle group. Incidentally,
weight trainers commonly misattribute the effectiveness of a
new exercise, or the workout routine, to some inherent characteristic
or secret ingredient within the exercise or training principle
itself. But, in truth, any significant change in one's routine
can stimulate new progress.
When a new exercise has been introduced, the progress for
the first few weeks is largely due to neural-motor adaptations
(Komi 1986). Rapid increases of strength are attributed more
to an improvement in neural firing pattern than an actual increase
in muscular force output (Moritani 1979). After this initial
'learning, or re-learning' phase, subsequent strength increases
become predominately morphological- muscles fibers increase in
size (Sale 1988). Incidentally, some non-hypertrophy-related
strength increases are possibly due to anatomical changes in
connective tissue and angle of muscle fiber attachment to tendon
(Jones & Rutherford; Narici et. al., 1989).
exercises for a muscle group every workout is not necessary
and may, in effect, not allow optimal neurological adaptation.
In other words, you may be left with very few options in restimulating
progress for future workouts if you are doing all the exercises
in the book for a particular muscle group (see less
is more). In addition, it becomes difficult to make incremental
progress if you change your exercises every workout. Sticking
to a program, or a group of selected exercises, for a longer
time will decrease your chance of injury because you'll be more
familiar with your limits regarding load and volume, and it will
make it easier to practice and maintain good form. Your muscles,
tendons, ligaments, joints, vascular elements and neural-motor
units respond favorably with small increases in duration and
intensity. (see SAID
and Weight Training Specificity).
If too much weight is used, form may suffer and injury is more
likely. If too little weight is used, the body does not have
to adapt to an overload (see Weight Training
Log). It is very difficult to use the ideal resistance if
you change your exercises every workout. Systematic increases
of repetitions and resistance can easily be achieved by performing
the same exercises for at least a few weeks.
Powerlifters, Olympic-style weightlifters,
or other athletes who have to increase absolute strength on a
few particular exercises throughout most of the year, may choose
to change only their auxiliary
exercise and continue to train on their essential lifts.
Most commonly, these athletes implement some method of periodization
which varies training volume and intensity throughout the year
(Bompa, 1990) (see Sample
Powerlifting Programs). Similarly, this wave has been used
for Olympic athletic training (Naughton, 1991). In addition,
periodic variations of the form (eg. wide to narrow stance squat,
etc) of key exercises may also restimulate strength gains.
For beginners, the best exercises are those they are comfortable
in performing. For more advanced trainees, the most effective
exercises are those they are not as familiar with. For continued
relative strength gains, keep an exercise in your weight training
routine as long as you continue to make periodic gains, generally
between four to eight weeks. After which point, exchange your
workout with another basic exercise for each corresponding muscle
- "Just when your body thinks it has all the answers,
that's when you had better change the questions" - Louie
Simmons, Westside Barbell