I’ve heard guys at my gym saying that your muscles adapt to your workout. They say it’s important to switch things up. I want bigger muscles… so do I need to introduce more variety?
Let’s separate fact from fiction.
Muscle growth happens when you apply resistance to a muscle that is greater than what that muscle had previously adapted to. This signals to your body that more muscle is needed.
The way to do this is to lift progressively heavier weights. As you continually work against heavier and heavier resistance, your muscles will grow over time.
Of course, there are other variables. You need to fuel your body with proper nutrition. You need to give your muscles sufficient recovery time. You need adequate sleep. And so on.
Variety isn’t a factor in muscle growth.
In fact, variety can even work against you. If you don’t spend enough time with any one exercise, it becomes very difficult to progressively increase resistance. Instead, you’re too busy jumping from exercise to exercise.
For example, perhaps you can squat 150 pounds. Next week, you reach 160 pounds. In another three or four weeks, maybe you get to 170 pounds. And so on. This is a great strategy for increasing muscle growth.
If you’re doing squats one week and then a totally different exercise the next week, and then another exercise the following week, it becomes very difficult to establish a baseline on which to build.
Having said all of that, variety can play an important role – especially if you’re bored, at a plateau or if increasing muscle size isn’t a goal. Variety can help spice things up by giving you new exercises; this can help your workout feel fresh. If you’re trying to break through a stubborn plateau, switching things up (i.e., new exercises, changing the base of stability, changing exercise order) may help. And if you’re not looking to increase the size of your muscles, it becomes less important to stick with the same exercise for extended periods of time.
I hope that helps!
P.S. Want a guaranteed strategy for increasing muscle size? Download Davey Wavey’s Foolproof Guide to Building Muscle.