Saturday, December 12, 2020

Effective Variation - Bradley J. Steiner (1988)



Bradley J. Steiner 
June 4th, 1947 - December 5th, 2020  



The idea of varying your training from time to time can be either beneficial and productive or counterproductive, depending upon how you use variety.  

We all have times when we go a bit stale, get discouraged and feel that training is not producing the results it used to. At such times variety can be a blessing. The trick, of course, is to vary your exercises among productive alternatives and not among essentially useless "fancy" movements such as replacing barbell curls with seated concentration curls. And, when shuffling a program around for stimulating enthusiasm, stay away from set-rep schemes that make gains impossible, such as doing 8 sets of 10 curls, instead of your usual 3 sets of 6 reps! Such a drastic, sudden change will be "stimulating" all right. It will stimulate for the first workout; thereafter you'll enjoy training about as much as a trip to the dentist. 

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The essential point to remember is that varying your training does not mean losing sight of common sense.

Often, a trainee gets used to, fond of, and attached to a particular training schedule even long after he has gotten whatever good he can get from it. (Sometimes a program can and should be used again in the future, but only after a rest and change to jolt the muscles out of a familiar groove.)

After some years of steady training and experience, every lifter discovers the appropriate best form that his personal training routine should take. That is as it ought to be. But it doesn't deny the fact that an occasional change can produce added results. One needn't alter everything. Shuffling an exercise here and there, changing the sets and/or reps a bit can mean a whole new mental and physical experience.
Training is as much or more mental as it is physical. Changing one's program is as important to stimulate interest and maintain enthusiasm as it is to work the muscles from a slightly different angle.
I have had the experience and I've seen it in my students of feeling completely renewed and enthusiastic with a workout simply because the routine was different. The fact that I wouldn't be doing the "same old thing" made me feel better mentally about training. And that made all the difference in the world as far as applying my best efforts.
Develop the skill of varying your programs from time to time to insure continued gains and interest. Anyone who feels a somewhat lackadaisical attitude toward his workouts should consider changing his program.
For readers who may be wondering just what constitutes good variety in training, let me catalog some essentially basic exercises. The exercises listed in each category are interchangeable with the other exercises in that category. Thus, if you simply stop using one exercise in any given category, and replace it with another exercise in that same category, you'll derive excellent benefits and need not be concerned about losing productive workout potential in your movements.   
Here are some of the main variations. Use of chains, bands, different bars, grips, leverages, etc. will increase the number of variations available to you.
 Category One
Regular Barbell Curl
Close Grip Bent Forward Barbell Curl
Alternate DB Curl (seated or standing)
Dumbbell Curl (seated or standing)
Zottman Curl
Category Two

Press Behind Neck (seated or standing)
Overhead Press (seated or standing)
Dumbbell Press (seated of standing)
Alternate DB Press (seated or standing)

Category Three:
Power Squat
Olympic Squat
Breathing Squat
Front Squat
Power Half Squat
Calf Raise (seated or standing)
Category Four:
Lower Back
Power Clean
Power Snatch
Stiff Legged Deadlift
Good Morning
Category Five:
Barbell Bench Press
Dumbbell Bench Press
Incline Press (barbell or dumbbells)
 Pullover/Press Combination

Category Six:

Bentover Barbell Row
One Dumbbell Row
 Pullover/Press Combination
Category Seven:
Incline Situp (with or without weight)
Leg Raise (with or without weight)
Hanging Leg Raise (with or without weight)
Category Eight:
Rope Skipping
Rowing Machine (other aerobic machines)
By shuffling the exercises in these categories, a number of good, effective training programs can be arranged. I've listed basic exercises that will always be always be reliable in developing hard muscle. 
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Advanced trainees may elect to include perhaps two exercises from a given category from time to time, or perhaps add a "lesser" movement   as a supplement to a basic movement (i.e. lateral raises used in conjunction with presses, etc.)

By no means is it necessary to always adhere to the same set/rep scheme that one has been accustomed to in order to benefit from the same, or similar, exercises. In fact, one can add a great deal of stimulation to a workout by varying the sets and reps. Try these sample schedules: 
For Basic Bodybuilding: 
3 sets of 8-10 reps.  
1 x 12, 1 x 10, 1 x 8.
2 x 8-12 reps
3-4 x 6-8 reps.

For Power: 
1 x 8, 1 x 6, 1 x 5, 1 x 3.
4 x 5 reps.

Normally calf work and ab training requires high reps. About 15-20 are best with calf exercises, and upwards of 25 seems to be right for abdominal exercise.

You can stimulate new gains on an otherwise "overworked" program by changing the set-rep scheme. In any case, a changeover to variant exercises and a new set-rep scheme will prove invaluable.

Ber mindful of what your experience has taught you about how you gain best. For instance, it two workouts a week are about all you can gain on, switching to five weekly workouts might not help. That, for you, would be overworking, plain and simple. On the other hand, if your body really thrives on four or five grueling sessions a week, then follow your personal bent! Just alter how you train for a while. 
Remember, you are always going to be working the same body
Your object is to train it in a slightly different groove. 

Also, when you start up a new program, take it easy for the first couple of weeks. Like anything else, a new program takes some getting used to. Although regular presses and presses behind the neck, for example, work the shoulders in basically the same way, there are definitely some differences in how the deltoids take the stress. By allowing yourself to break into the routine change you elect to follow, you'll avoid strain, discomfort and possible injury. 
Remember, to get the most out of any program you must work it for a while. Your initial slightly easier week or two one the new program may feel awkward, even wasteful. Just persist. Once you're "broken in" you'll start experiencing the gains that your older routine produced for a time  .

Follow the correct rules of training. Work out with strict, proper exercise form. "Cheating" occasionally is all right, but avoid "heaving" or "tossing" weights. Work the muscles through their full range of motion and make sure the entire muscle group is being worked thoroughly.
Don't overtrain. Keep the workouts down to a manageable time frame. This normally means between 60 and 90 minutes, with a two-hour maximum for super-advanced trainees. More training than that is counterproductive. 
SET - AND KEEP - REALISTIC STANDARDS. Too many people without exceptional potential demand too much of themselves. Training should always be kept down to earth. Unfortunately, the Iron Game has its share of sensationalists who, for commercial gain, tout nonsense as fat and offer theory as "training instruction." Anyone can write up a bunch of exercises. That doesn't make it a program.
Follow the sensible, common sense approach - not only for the sake of best strength and muscle gains, but also for the sake of your long term health and well being. Never use steroids. Never allow anyone to persuade you to violate normal dietary guidelines, or to subject your body to the stress of a strange, "weird" training program. 
Enjoy Your Lifting!  


















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