This is going to be a very short article (I will try to make it short, we will see when I have met it) in which I will explain one of the questions that I usually ask for the comments of the web, private messages, twitter, facebook, etc… Every time you have to change routinely? Let’s go see him.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
BEFORE WE BEGIN
REASONS TO CHANGE ROUTINE
IS IT BAD TO CHANGE ROUTINE?
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
BEFORE WE BEGIN
I will start the article clarifying the following: with these topics there is always a lot of susceptibility (I do not understand why, but there is one). This is unique and exclusively my opinion on this. So, I’m not trying to let go of the universal truth and say that everyone who doesn’t do it the way I’m doing wrong and has no idea. I think objectively and looking at the research on this subject, this is the best way to proceed, but if you do it differently and you do well, great. Continues.
REASONS TO CHANGE ROUTINE
Let’s start by explaining the main reasons why it is usually recommended to change routinely. namely:
This is often the main cause of people changing routinely every two by three.
Thought works like this: If you give the muscle the same stimulus repeatedly (in the form of the same exercise, same routine, same order,…) it will adapt and not grow, so the best way to train it is to confuse it by changing very often some or more variables so that it never adapts and maximizes its growth.
Even if written has some logic, the reality is very different. Many of the typical gym arguments often have apparent logic, but the problem is that the body doesn’t actually work that way.
It makes sense that we eat many times a day to increase metabolism and not accumulate fat, but the body doesn’t work that way.
It makes sense not to consume carbohydrates at night because we don’t use them and they accumulate as fat, but the body doesn’t work that way.
It makes sense that if we fast the body goes into survival mode, but it doesn’t really work that way.
In the case at hand, there are several problems with the argument of confusing muscle.
To begin with, certain “humanoid” characteristics are given to the muscle that it does not actually possess. That is, muscle is treated as if it were a thinking body that has the ability to decide whether or not what we are doing is useful, and whether it is used to the stimulus it receives consciously decides to minimize muscle growth.
The reality is that the body doesn’t have that ability, and muscle doesn’t have those characteristics. He can’t be confused, he has no ability to understand what we’re doing. Muscle understands the tension applied to it. Nothing more and nothing less.
The second problem is to think that if the muscle adapts it is a bad sign. This is wrong on a very important level.
Think. What is muscle growth? It is a response that generates the muscle to an external stimulus, so that it can cope in the event that it reappears. That is…..muscle growth IS AN ADAPTATION. Therefore, to think that if the body adapts to a stimulus it is bad and stops growing is to be completely wrong.
That’s exactly what we want! We want the muscle to adapt, because that’s where muscle growth comes from.
There we can discuss whether or not it is necessary to change routinely. In my opinion, it will always be better to do a routine that you like and are motivated to perform it 100%, even if it is not optimal, so looking for an alternative that you like will almost always have benefits. That’s where I understand there’s a routine change. Every once in a while.
Now, it’s also true that many of the people who change routinely every two by three are usually people who have a lousy adherence to any routine. They are what are known in English as “routine-hoppers”, and these are these that on Monday decide to make a torso/leg because they have read that it is the best since the slice of bread, on Wednesday they see a routine on an X page that they like and decide to change it, after 2 weeks they talk to a colleague and decide that from now on they will make weider, after 1 month they read an article about the 5/3/1 of Jim Wendler, they flip and start it, after 3 weeks they have already tired and return to the one they did with their friend, etc…
This is a very common problem, and it is one of the great reasons why novices do not achieve results.
Changing routines is not bad. Change routinely every week and not focus on progressing one, yes.
Understand that there is a need for brutal marketing here. A new issue has to be eded every month and magazine directors have to fill it with content. In the end the quantity matters and not the quality.
It is understandable that every month you have to invent a “miracle routine that will put 7cm of perimeter in your biceps in 4 weeks” or nonsense of the style, because if only they put the routines that really work, they would have ended years ago. “Revolutionary” routines are finite.
Then we put it together with case 2, the typical rookie kid who reads that and is impressed with the “6 secret and little-known exercises that will make your biceps explode” and we have it in a mess. Whatever the bodybuilding and fitness magazines say, take it with tweezers.
IS IT BAD TO CHANGE ROUTINE?
Given the top 3 reasons why you change routine and that in my opinion are not usually strictly necessary let’s talk about whether or not it is bad to change routines often. For if it is not, then there is no such thing either; everyone to do what they want, right?
Well, it turns out something’s going on, and it’s not exactly good.
We need to understand that when we start doing a new exercise the body requires a time of adaptation to learn how to do exercise well and be efficient in it. It’s like learning to ride a bike, to understand each other. When you start, you get tired, you fall, you end up with sharps, you strain your whole body so you can stay straight, etc… After weeks, you go like Pedro around his house, you hardly realize you’re doing it.
The same goes for a new exercise. The body requires a while for neural adaptations or changes to be created to allow it to become more and more efficient in the given movement. For example, when you start squating the body trembles, you don’t stabilize it well, you go down with a strange path, you go sideways, your knees get inside, your whole body is a custard, you don’t just notice that the muscles activate properly, the next day you have some holes that you want to die, etc. We’ve all been through that.
However, as you practice the technique improves, you stop shaking, the body compacts in exercise, notes as the muscles activate, the hole decreases….There are the adaptations I comment on.
And obviously, the more complicated the movement, the longer the body needs to do it. It makes sense to think that the body will learn before being efficient in a bicep curl (whatever its variant) than in a Dead Weight. The movement pattern is more complex, the technique is more complex, more joints are involved, muscle mass, more weight moves….Everything influences.
Therefore, the neural adaptation time varies depending on how technical an exercise is.
However, the opposite is with muscle growth. During the period of neural adaptations muscle growth is not as optimal as it should be. It’s actually much inferior.
Why? Well, it has all the logic in the world. When you’re learning to do an exercise, your body isn’t particularly good at effectively recruiting motor units that allow you to exercise properly. As the body improves, there is a growing muscle involvement, so the more we exercise, the greater the hypertrophic response of it, as we become more and more skilled in it.
It can be clearly seen in the following graphic, drawn from the following study : http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3057313?ordinalpos=6&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum
We see that the red line is neural changes, and the green line is muscle growth.
Initially, when we do a new exercise practically growth is zero while the red line is increasing during the learning period. It’s not until our body starts learning to exercise that muscle growth soars.
Therefore, if you change routine/exercises very often not only will not “confuse the muscle” as I explained above, but you will lose growth potential because you will be changing exercise just when your body is becoming efficient in performing it and will consequently maximize muscle gains.
An annotation that is important to highlight: Here we are talking about how to maximize progress.
Many reading the article will think that you have achieved results by changing exercise often, or that you know people who have gotten big by rotating exercises every session or every few weeks. Obviously, my point is not that changing exercises is not going to produce any kind of result. This is not an on/off switch. My point is that it is a methodology that will not bring you the maximum possible benefits, which is another discussion completely.
It’s similar to the debate of whether a weider is better than a more common routine. Many understand that a weider is completely useless. Nothing further from reality. What is true is that it is probably not the best option if you are looking to maximize the results.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Muscle can’t be confused. We have to change our minds about that urgently.
Muscle growth is adaptation. To want to look for alternatives to avoid adaptation is, by definition, to look for alternatives to reduce the results.
It takes a while for the body to adjust to exercise correctly, and that time it takes is the time when muscle growth is not at its best.
It takes longer to learn how to do a technical, multi-articular exercise than an isolation exercise.
Ideally a good strategy is to have 2-3 exercises for each muscle group and rotate them when you reach a stagnation from which no further progress can be made.
Such stagnation will appear more or less late depending on how well structured your routine is and the progression you follow. Effective and well-planned routines will prevent stagnation for several months, including years. Reaching stagnation every 3-4 weeks is no problem with exercise or muscle adapting, it is that the routine is not well raised or your level is not adequate.
As a final recommendation and something more precise, I would not recommend a certain or immovable time when you need to change exercise. The idea of getting bored that I commented above can be greatly alleviated by choosing the exercises you like the most and the most enjoyment in the first place. Stagnation, with a good routine. But every 3-4 months it can be interesting to work variants of the same motion pattern.