T Nation

CT: Not Changing Exercises or Order?

Why does CT suggest not changing the exercises (or exercise order?) within each block of training?

Why not ask him?

I’m not CT, but keeping exercises consistent throughout a block of training is pretty standard.

It allows you to focus on progression (adding weight, reps or decreasing rest times) with clear cut standards to go off of.

After that block you change things up and go at it again. Theoretically it prevents your body from stalling out.

[quote]gregron wrote:
I’m not CT, but keeping exercises consistent throughout a block of training is pretty standard.

It allows you to focus on progression (adding weight, reps or decreasing rest times) with clear cut standards to go off of.

After that block you change things up and go at it again. Theoretically it prevents your body from stalling out.[/quote]

^

changing rep/set scheme, tempo, ROM, adding/removing intensity techniques (dropsets, partials, forced reps, sets to failure, etc), and adding variables (chains/bands) will be enough so that your body doesnt adjust…

there really is not need to change exercise selection if there is variety in the aformentioned areas.

Too frequent exercise changes actually messes up your progress. I does give the ILLUSION of progress because if you change exercise every 2-3 weeks then you will always feel like you are gaining, while in reality you are just becoming more efficient in the lift. The first week is you baseline, during the second you have fast progress because you either learned or refreshed the movement pattern (rapid neiural adaptation). The third week you still progress because you are now more neurally efficient (better motor unit recruitment and timing). But by the 4th week/workout the rapid neural gains have stopped, strength gains will now come from added muscle, which takes longer than the neural gains. It might take 3-4 weeks for the muscle gains from the exercise to lead to further increase in strength.

That’s why a lot of people (and even more coaches who want to sell you more programs) change exercises every 4 weeks or so: the guy who decides to do this never feel like he is stagnating, even though he never really gets the chance to stimulate actual muscle gains (at least not optimally) and the coach looks smart because you think that you are progressing.

Look at the most successful big and strong people: elite bodybuilders, powerlifters, olympic lifters, throwers, sprinters, football players, etc. They all stick to the same basic exercises pretty much year round. YES there are some variations from time to time, but mostly on secondary exercises or they use a slightly different variation of the same movement (pin pull instead of full deadlifts for example… which is the same pattern).

I do believe in variation. But I think it is smarter to change loading parameters (sets, reps, load), method or conditions of execution (range of motion, added chains, bands, from pins, etc.).

I do not want to argue against the benefits of using the same exercises for a given period of time and ive done that before and its work but

Ive been changing exercises almost every week since working with JM and ive seen great results doing so, too

Just throwing this out there

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Too frequent exercise changes actually messes up your progress. I does give the ILLUSION of progress because if you change exercise every 2-3 weeks then you will always feel like you are gaining, while in reality you are just becoming more efficient in the lift. The first week is you baseline, during the second you have fast progress because you either learned or refreshed the movement pattern (rapid neiural adaptation). The third week you still progress because you are now more neurally efficient (better motor unit recruitment and timing). But by the 4th week/workout the rapid neural gains have stopped, strength gains will now come from added muscle, which takes longer than the neural gains. It might take 3-4 weeks for the muscle gains from the exercise to lead to further increase in strength.

That’s why a lot of people (and even more coaches who want to sell you more programs) change exercises every 4 weeks or so: the guy who decides to do this never feel like he is stagnating, even though he never really gets the chance to stimulate actual muscle gains (at least not optimally) and the coach looks smart because you think that you are progressing.

Look at the most successful big and strong people: elite bodybuilders, powerlifters, olympic lifters, throwers, sprinters, football players, etc. They all stick to the same basic exercises pretty much year round. YES there are some variations from time to time, but mostly on secondary exercises or they use a slightly different variation of the same movement (pin pull instead of full deadlifts for example… which is the same pattern).

I do believe in variation. But I think it is smarter to change loading parameters (sets, reps, load), method or conditions of execution (range of motion, added chains, bands, from pins, etc.).[/quote]

CT are you talking in terms of muscle growth or performance? Curious to what some of the JM guys will say about this like zraw who claim to change up often.

[quote]Waittz wrote:

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Too frequent exercise changes actually messes up your progress. I does give the ILLUSION of progress because if you change exercise every 2-3 weeks then you will always feel like you are gaining, while in reality you are just becoming more efficient in the lift. The first week is you baseline, during the second you have fast progress because you either learned or refreshed the movement pattern (rapid neiural adaptation). The third week you still progress because you are now more neurally efficient (better motor unit recruitment and timing). But by the 4th week/workout the rapid neural gains have stopped, strength gains will now come from added muscle, which takes longer than the neural gains. It might take 3-4 weeks for the muscle gains from the exercise to lead to further increase in strength.

That’s why a lot of people (and even more coaches who want to sell you more programs) change exercises every 4 weeks or so: the guy who decides to do this never feel like he is stagnating, even though he never really gets the chance to stimulate actual muscle gains (at least not optimally) and the coach looks smart because you think that you are progressing.

Look at the most successful big and strong people: elite bodybuilders, powerlifters, olympic lifters, throwers, sprinters, football players, etc. They all stick to the same basic exercises pretty much year round. YES there are some variations from time to time, but mostly on secondary exercises or they use a slightly different variation of the same movement (pin pull instead of full deadlifts for example… which is the same pattern).

I do believe in variation. But I think it is smarter to change loading parameters (sets, reps, load), method or conditions of execution (range of motion, added chains, bands, from pins, etc.).[/quote]

CT are you talking in terms of muscle growth or performance? Curious to what some of the JM guys will say about this like zraw who claim to change up often. [/quote]

EDIT- didnt see Zraws post until after I submitted.

this is why i can do many things at a mediocre level, but none very well.

[quote]zraw wrote:
I do not want to argue against the benefits of using the same exercises for a given period of time and ive done that before and its work but

Ive been changing exercises almost every week since working with JM and ive seen great results doing so, too

Just throwing this out there[/quote]

It depends on the training style… when using the pump as your main growing mechanisms, changing exercise doesn’t matter much as long as it hits the right muscle… the pump techniques will get blood and nutrients in there and it will work.

The more neurally demanding a training-style is, the more stable should your exercise selection be

This is a question, when do you consider it a new movement pattern, for example there are the rack pulls powerlifters do which mimic the deadlift and then there is the type where you lift as much weight as possible with form that doesn’t mimic your deadlift. Is changing the stance, grip, or bar placement considered a new exercise to you? (versus the examples you gave which would be accomodated resistance variables and deadstop exercises from various range of motions)

For an example say there are deadlifts kept as a constant with a conventional stance, squats with a wide stance and low bar position, and comp/close/wide grips for the bench being touch and go with all of those as speed work at all times. Would bringing the stance in for squats from wide to medium or close be considered a new movement pattern versus if you were to do them as Anderson squats with the same stance/bar placement, or if you were to do them as pause squats?

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]zraw wrote:
I do not want to argue against the benefits of using the same exercises for a given period of time and ive done that before and its work but

Ive been changing exercises almost every week since working with JM and ive seen great results doing so, too

Just throwing this out there[/quote]

It depends on the training style… when using the pump as your main growing mechanisms, changing exercise doesn’t matter much as long as it hits the right muscle… the pump techniques will get blood and nutrients in there and it will work.

The more neurally demanding a training-style is, the more stable should your exercise selection be[/quote]

Agreed

I think both works and have their advantages too

But what about muscle confusion?

I have not worked with JM, so you (zraw) obviously have a better understanding of his principles. But doesnt he maintain some kind of “benchmark”? I remember an article he wrote saying he likes to keep the 2nd movement as a staple so lifters can assess progress through sheer strength and progressive overload. I also get the feeling from his monthly write ups on his site that theres a great deal of consistent movements and go-to exercises that will allow constant progress.

Yates never changed his exercises and he managed to make plenty of progress.

S

[quote]zraw wrote:

Agreed

I think both works and have their advantages too[/quote]

Totally… I believe that at some point it comes down to the style of training that better fits a person’s psychological profile and then optimizing that style of training

[quote]gregron wrote:
But what about muscle confusion?[/quote]

I cant tell you how much laughter that caused.

Recruiting fibers is recruiting fibers IMHO. Too often, trainers get caught up in new innovations and forget the road that lead them to their current physique. ‘cute’ exercises are fine periodically but, like Zraw and CT stated its all about what works for you. like upright rows work for some but not me. So for the most part, uprights are something I don’t do.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:
Too frequent exercise changes actually messes up your progress. I does give the ILLUSION of progress because if you change exercise every 2-3 weeks then you will always feel like you are gaining, while in reality you are just becoming more efficient in the lift. The first week is you baseline, during the second you have fast progress because you either learned or refreshed the movement pattern (rapid neiural adaptation). The third week you still progress because you are now more neurally efficient (better motor unit recruitment and timing). But by the 4th week/workout the rapid neural gains have stopped, strength gains will now come from added muscle, which takes longer than the neural gains. It might take 3-4 weeks for the muscle gains from the exercise to lead to further increase in strength.

That’s why a lot of people (and even more coaches who want to sell you more programs) change exercises every 4 weeks or so: the guy who decides to do this never feel like he is stagnating, even though he never really gets the chance to stimulate actual muscle gains (at least not optimally) and the coach looks smart because you think that you are progressing.

Look at the most successful big and strong people: elite bodybuilders, powerlifters, olympic lifters, throwers, sprinters, football players, etc. They all stick to the same basic exercises pretty much year round. YES there are some variations from time to time, but mostly on secondary exercises or they use a slightly different variation of the same movement (pin pull instead of full deadlifts for example… which is the same pattern).

I do believe in variation. But I think it is smarter to change loading parameters (sets, reps, load), method or conditions of execution (range of motion, added chains, bands, from pins, etc.).[/quote]

I get the basic premise of what you’re saying. I read in one of the articles on t nation that you SHOULD swap out at least 3-5 exercises per body part when starting a new block, however. So I am assuming that those 3-5 exercises are secondary exercises and not the bread and butter mass/strength builders then?

And if I wanted to “change” the primary exercises (i.e. Barbell Row) I should not necessarily switch them out, but instead employ tactics such as using a different grip/angle/rep/rep tempo/sets/weight, etc etc?

Please chime in if I don’t have this correct…

I am going to run a 4 week block, keep the same exercises, the same exercise order throughout the duration of the block, BUT change other variables such as volume/load for weeks 2 and 3 respectively. 4th week is de-load where I will either drop volume or weight, haven’t decided yet.

After that block is finished and I am entering a brand new block, I will then keep the same basic exercises I used in the previous block, BUT change my hand grip/placement/angle, etc. For the secondary exercises, I will swap out for other secondary exercises at my discretion.

I know this is a SERIOUS generalization, but I am trying to wrap my head around not changing out exercises as much as possible to continuously shock my muscles into growth