Club Julian personal trainer Anthony Olick believes that your strength/muscle-building workout routine should be anything but. “When you do the same routine over and over, your muscles will adapt to the specific movements done time and time again,” explains Anthony. “They will then just be ready for whatever that is, and won’t grow unless you add some element of variation to your workout.”
In a concept he refers to as the “Array of Variation,” Trainer Anthony emphasizes the importance of having numerous different workouts in your arsenal to empower progress toward your goals. “There are so many ways to switch things up. Changing angles, switching from a flat surface to a stability ball, adding cables in place of machines or free weights – there are a million different ways to variate,” says Anthony.
According to Anthony, variation of exercises wakes up the muscle fibers that you don’t usually hit. For some, the “shock factor” might also include reduced time between sets. For example, if you usually rest for a minute between sets, drop it down to 30 seconds. He also suggests “burn-out sets” which means doing at least one set to complete exhaustion or failure. “Don’t let your body get used to something. Only you know if you can do more – another set or another rep,” says Anthony. “Sometimes it’s that one burnout set that is going to take you to the next level rather than just always aiming just to get through 3 sets of 10.”
Another good way to variate and shock muscle tissue is supersets, or sets that involve hitting large muscle groups in the first set followed immediately (no rest) by a follow-up set. “The first exercise should be a multiple or compound exercise like bench press, and the second, a more isolated movement that targets a specific muscle – like a tricep pushdown,” explains Anthony. Both the first and second sets of the superset should be 10-15 reps according to Anthony.
He says that more concentrated or intense reps impact muscle fibers found deeper in the tissue and activities like going until failure or supersets pump more blood into your muscles which of course stimulates growth. “All your muscles can do is grow and shrink. The concept people refer to as ‘toning’ refers to the reduction of fat surrounding the muscle – which in large part is tied to diet and cardio.”
Trainer Anthony points out that although adding variation and options to your workout regimen every couple of weeks is a good idea, you should always still have your staple exercises. For many, these are exercises that address large or multiple muscle groups like bench press, squats, rows, etc. Trainer Anthony believes that the best way to expand your arsenal of exercises to meet your goals is to set an appointment with a Club Julian personal trainer. Personal training is available at no additional cost with your Club Julian membership.