I often get asked, how important it is to vary your exercise selection. My answer will always be it depends on the final goal. For strength performance, too much variety can somewhat hinder progress, because you will never adapt to a specific movement. For hypertrophy, variation is not a problem when finding the best exercises to produce maximum muscle fatigue. For fat loss purposes, more variety is recommended. Usually, the less efficient you are at something the more energy you will use (burn fat). Also, when you are on a fat loss program your motivation might be harder to maintain because you will be more fatigue due to diet restrictions and changing things up might result in a mental boost.
Variation also depends on the person: some people need more variety to stay motivated while others have the opposite response of feeling overwhelmed. People who are acetylcholine dominant (extroverts) tend to need more variation. People who are dopamine dominant (introverts) don’t need much variation and are more motivated/confident when things stay the same.
WHy should I vary my exercise?
The most important thing when it comes to varying exercise selection, is what’s the reason. Variation comes in many different forms. For example, it could be as simple as changing your grip, position, or stance of an exercise to help contract different muscles. In my opinion, small variations under a progression (simplest – advanced) always work best. Once you first understand how to do the foundational movements the correct way, then a little variation wouldn’t be so bad.
If you need to include more variation to stay motivated, do so, but remember the more complex an exercise is the longer you should stick with it. As far as low-skill exercises aimed mostly at building muscle, anything goes.
Furthermore, you can always include variation in the form of loading parameters, tempo, training methods rather than changing the movements themselves.
If you have trouble understanding exercise variation, please reach out to us for help.