I am often asked about variety in regards to exercise selection and programming. For example, some question how I perform the same exercises year after year without succumbing to boredom. Others question the value of variety. They are afraid to change exercises as they fear losing the gains that took so long to achieve. As a result, they have essentially concluded that boredom is an inevitable consequence. In their eyes, it comes with the territory so you must persevere through it.
Fortunately, it does not need to be that way. Yes, I am all for perseverance but you don’t need to continually persevere through the exact same exercises and routines. It is possible to include variety without disrupting a routine that has worked well for you. Variety does not mean knocking everything down and starting from scratch.
Variety can be much more subtle. You don’t need to abandon an exercise that has worked well for you. Often times, variety may simply mean performing a slightly different variation of the same movement. An example of this concept can be seen below.
I have performed standing rollouts for years. I hardly remember when I first used the exercise. Yet after all this time, I still benefit from the exercise and enjoy it. The reason for that is simple. I don’t limit myself to a single variation. I mix things up on occasion with new or different challenges. Even simply changing my scenery can be enough to provide a new spark.
Yet regardless of the variation I use, the physical benefits are relatively similar. I am not reinventing the wheel. I’m just using a different set of wheels on occasion to keep the ride interesting. And clearly standing rollouts are just one example of this concept. Subtle forms of variety can be applied to countless exercises and routines.
Variety could mean changing your running route. It could mean changing your grip on the pull-up bar. It could mean performing handstand pushups from rings instead of handles. It could mean performing an exercise with thick handles instead of a standard bar. It could mean occasionally working with dumbbells instead of a barbell or vice versa.
We could go on and on with examples. In each case, we are not trying to fix something that isn’t broken. On the contrary, we are looking to spice things up to stay mentally fresh while helping to prevent physical plateaus.
I’ve subscribed to this simple concept for years and I’m still going strong. I can’t even fathom the thought of being bored in the gym. With a regular dose of creativity, boredom becomes unimaginable. It is everything but an inevitable consequence.
“Nothing is pleasant that is not spiced with variety.” – Francis Bacon