Having variety in a weightlifting regimen is definitely something a lot of people neglect (or don’t do very well). Often times we hear of people hitting a plateau in their weight loss, toning, or muscle-building routine; they are putting in the effort, but not seeing the results. By changing up a routine you can get far better results compared to doing the same or similar exercises over and over. Mixing it up also makes for more interesting, less monotonous workout sessions. Let’s take a look at how we can mix up workout routines to see maximum results.
Stay with the same (at first)
Follow the same schedule for 3 to 6 weeks. Do the same exercises, but try to increase your performance in this time period. For instance, if you are doing alternating dumbbell curls to work your biceps, you don’t have to mix up your routine by doing a completely different exercise from one workout to the next. Stay with that exercise for 3 to 6 weeks and work on increasing your repetitions and/or increasing the amount of weight you are lifting.
Now, mix it up.
After 3 to 6 weeks of the same routine, it’s time to change things up. There are several ways to do this:
1. Switch your grip – If using barbells, move your hands to a closer position when you are doing curls. Experiment with different positions on bench press, pull-ups, and any other move that you practice regularly.
2. Switch your angle – Play with different positions on benches. Make use of decline and incline benches, and not just for bench press. Try different angles for all muscle groups including arms, shoulders, back, abs, and legs.
3. Switch your stance – You can do good old-fashioned curls, but how about doing curls balancing on one leg? Ever tried doing curls from a lunge position? Adding some variety in your stance by integrating a balance element takes concentration, focus, and causes you to isolate muscles in a way that many of us are not used to.
4. Switch your equipment – Switch from free weights to cable machines to resistance bands to body weight (in no particular order). Experimenting with different equipment can add different levels of positive/negative resistance and different levels of isolation which allows for your muscles to work in different ways.
Continue to mix it up and go back to the basics too
Variety is great and an important part of fitness to break the plateau effect, but in mixing things up do not be afraid to go back to exercises you have done before. Traditional push-ups, bench press, squats, bicep curls and other weightlifting techniques are still great exercises, so we don’t want to give these things up.
Mixing it up and “Muscle Confusion,” as Tony Horton calls it, is one component of the P90X workout routine, and also P90X2. Click on the links below for information on these workouts. Plateau-busting, muscle-confusing, fat-shredding, and muscle-building all in 90 days.