T Nation

Changing Weight Routines After Every 8 Weeks

For the past 7 weeks, I have been lifting weights with the primary goal of building muscle mass. I’ve made some progress in strength, muscle mass, and strength-endurance gains. Ever since the first week I have tried to keep a realistic expectation of gaining about 1 lb. of muscle per month (which is what I’ve been gaining so far according to my weekly skinfold measurements and daily weight scale measurements.

However, as of last week I changed my entire weightlifting as my weightlifting class at the community college I go to ended 2 weeks ago and the coaches or instructors in the school don’t allow anyone to use the gym unless you are enrolled in a weightlifting class or a student athlete at the school.

Currently, I have a busy schedule of classes and I continue to practice martial arts so I don’t have the time this semester to be in another weightlifting class that goes on for 3 hours a day for 4 weekdays. Anyways, since last week I have been working with weights at home including a set of 2.5-25 lbs. weight plates with a 10lb. barbell and dumbells with spinlocks. It’s been a full body routine for 2 days week with mostly compounds movements and I now do the exercises at a slightly faster pace during each set. Now, I’ve read that when you either start lifting weights for hypertrophy as a beginner or you introduce new exercises or suddenly use much greater resistance in old exercises that most of your strength gains will be due to neural factors and not to muscle hypertrophy (even up to 8 weeks).

So my question is that while I know they say that in general you should change your workouts about every 2-8 weeks, would that actually be detrimental to building muscle mass or no?

While there seems to be some validity to the whole ‘muscle confusion’ idea, many many people got big by following a consistent routine week after week for a very long time. The fact that they kept increasing the weights seemed to be sufficient.

If you’re confined to working at home, I suggest investing in an olympic barbell and weight plates. You should be able to get a used olympic barbell for $30-45 from a used sporting goods store (like Play it Again Sports). You can then buy weight plates as you need them.

If you have the budge and the space, go all out and get yourself a rack, floor padding, and a good olympic barbell set with weight trees.

But if not, here’s how I would go about doing it, knowing what I know now:

  1. get an olympic barbell and vise-style collars
  2. buy plates as you need them
  3. buy some sort of thick floor protector – I bought some used, and have a couple layers underneath where I deadlift
  4. buy a weight tree
  5. buy a rack of some sort with safety bars
  6. buy a bench
  7. accessorize: olympic dumbbells, ez curl bar, dip station, etc.

When you have the barbell, collars, and some plates, you can start using it. Add the rest as your budget allows.

The whole “change your workout every few weeks” may apply to very advanced bodybuilders with years of training just like many other things you usually hear about weight training. If I could go back and do it again, I’d consistently run stronglifts 5x5 for the enitre first year of training, taking a one week break every 2-3 months. If you commit to this, focus on getting stronger and eat enough (bwx18 calories & 0.8-1.2g protein/lb a day), you can easily gain 20-30 lbs in a full year.

1lb/month is very little for a beginner (beginners grow faster because they are so far away from their maximum potential. It’s like every learning curve). Get a barbell and weight, as bench and squat stands or a rack and you’re ready - or find another gym, the one at your college seems restricted.

[quote]Bull_Scientist wrote:
Anyways, since last week I have been working with weights at home including a set of 2.5-25 lbs. weight plates with a 10lb. barbell and dumbells with spinlocks. It’s been a full body routine for 2 days week with mostly compounds movements and I now do the exercises at a slightly faster pace during each set.[/quote]
What exactly is your current goal and your current routine - days, exercises, sets, and reps?

Depends a lot on experience and development. A beginner could, in theory, change their exercises every week for the first few months and still see progress because the basic stimulus of any regular weight training is enough to elicit results. This doesn’t mean that they should, though, because it will slow down their mid-to-long term progress due to irregularity in exercise frequency.

A more experienced lifter might be able to get away with changing things up very often (significant program changes more than once a month), along the lines of “muscle confusion”, but I’d say that the majority of successful lifters (bodybuilders and powerlifters) generally make as few changes as necessary to continue progress and try to squeeze as many results out of as few variables as possible.