Hey, I thought we could change things up a bit

Like barbell deadlifts instead of trap bar deadlifts?

No I mean like maybe we can do lighter weights and more reps

But you’re making progress. Are you sure you want to change it up?

Oh, well…

As a coach, I have this conversation with a client at least once a week. And since my job is to deliver results to my client, I figure out how to give them exactly what they want, while making sure they do the things they need.

One of the things they need is consistency.

I get it: training is boring. You do the same thing over and over again for weeks and months on end. How do you think I feel about coaching the same thing several times a day?

The problem, though, is that we’ve been conditioned to think that change happens now. That we get what we work for now. That it shouldn’t take this long to make progress in the gym. And, too often, we start changing things up before we’ve allowed our bodies to adapt and start making progress.

I should know: I have terrible numbers in the squat, bench press, and deadlift.

And you know why? Because I’ve never stuck with them long enough to see significant progress. Every four weeks I’d be looking to change my exercises, my sets, my reps, my rest periods…anything and everything I could change I would change. I made very little progress and I never knew why I wasn’t making progress.

It should seem obvious: change too many things and you don’t know what works!

Strength training is great for developing strength (duh), improving muscle quality and quantity, improving bone density, improving sports performance, as well as improving health markers and making you look sexy as hell naked.

Early in a strength program, you might find that you make significant progress in the first few weeks. That’s because in the first 4-6 weeks of any new program your strength gains are neuromuscular in nature:

You’re grooving a new exercise and as you learn it, your muscles “learn” which muscle fibers to contract and which ones to relax; your brain sends signals to those muscle fibers increasingly faster; and your brain begins activating more muscle fibers to help you move the weight quickly, more powerfully, and efficiently.

So those weights fly by virtue of learning the movement.

It’s only after that initial stage where you begin to actually build new muscle so you can continue to get stronger. This is exactly when you SHOULD NOT “change things up” to make things more interesting.

Otherwise, you’re starting this whole process over again.

Embrace Boring

Get ridiculously strong in a few basic movements and if you must, add some “fun” stuff at the end of your workouts like bicep curls, rope skipping, high rep ballistic movements, bear crawls…I don’t care! Whatever you like and gets you jazzed to train.

Train: deadlifts/variants; squats; lunges; push-ups; bench press; shoulder press; chin-ups; rows

*Because training these will lead to the greatest strength and mass gains

Fun: depends on your definition of fun, but think arms, abs, “cardio,” etc.

*Because if you enjoy working out you’re more likely to continue doing it for a long time

TRAIN (read: practice) those movements over and over and over again. Add weight to the bar or dumbbells and reap the benefits of increased strength and muscle mass.

If it’s working, don’t change it.

If and when the day comes where you’re no longer making progress in the gym, assess your program and pick only one thing to change, run with it for a few weeks, and then reassess.

Don’t get caught up in the shiny new object. Embrace basic. Embrace boring. Embrace strength and progress and moving like a badass.

Don’t change things up before they really start working for you.

Andy Van Grinsven

About Andy Van Grinsven

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