Why never doing the same workout twice is actually hurting your progress.
There's been a boom in the fitness industry over the past 5 years and the tagline; "Never do the same workout twice" has become a popular sales pitch.
It's catchy and sounds enticing, especially for people who bore easily, but there's a few issues with this approach.
First, let me clarify, if you want to get a little fitter and feel a little better, sure doing random workouts will be fine, but if you want to transform your physique, build muscle, increase strength and get fit for a specific event, your training needs to be structured and purposeful.
Writing effective training programs is and art and science that's commonly based on three principles:
1- Periodisation; The planning and order of training over time.
2- S.A.I.D Principle; The Specific Adaptation to an Imposed Demand.
3- Progressive Overload; As you progress through your program there will be phases of higher/harder weights, sets, reps and recovery periods.
The application of the three principles above dictate how effective your program will be towards helping you achieve your desired goal.
If your goal is to build more muscle and increase your strength, performing different exercises each week isn't an effective way to achieve this.
The main driver of muscle growth is training volume (the amount of work performed per session/week/month) and the main driver of increasing strength is progressive overload (increasing the difficulty of an exercise by adding weight to the bar/changing rest breaks).
The exercises you perform, the number of repetitions you complete, the weight on the bar, the time you rest between sets and the frequency of your workouts are the key metrics for growing muscle and increasing strength.
When you're randomly selecting exercises and intentionally avoiding repeating the same workout, you are actually avoiding doing the very thing that will lead you to your goal.
The S.A.I.D principle is crucial to reaching your goals. The goal of training is to stimulate your body to adapt (grow muscle/increase strength/ increase fitness) as a result of that training.
The caveat here is that it takes multiple workouts with increasing volume and progressive overload to provide your body with an adequate stimulus to adapt.
In the very beginning of your training lifetime you can make progress without having much structure to your workouts but this is short lived and once you reach this stage, your training needs structure, planned progressions and periods of progressive overload.
Workout videos that look cool on Instagram are often titled "Train like an athlete, look like an athlete." And this statement has some truth to it.
However, successful athletes don't perform random workouts and they certainly don't promote the idea of never doing the same workout twice.
Athletes at the highest levels are often performing the same exercises all year round with minimal variation.
What does change is the volume (amount of work performed) and the loads (weight) lifted.
Athletes are walking examples of the three principles mentioned above, periodisation; planned and structured programs based on the S.A.I.D principle, with phases of progressive overload.
If you just want to elevate your heart rate, work up a sweat and get moving, never repeating the same workout twice is a great way to keep it interesting.
But if you've got a specific goal you'd like to achieve, you'll need to perform the same workout more than once to stimulate your body to adapt, recover and grow.
That's not to say that there is no room for variation, there certainly is and should be, but variation for the sake of variation doesn't serve you well in the pursuit of progress.
Train hard, diet smart,
Coach Ben Hidalgo