T Nation

EXPERIENCE REQUEST: Change Reps or Exercises

Hi there,

As we know there are general 2 changes someone can take advantage of to enter adaption again or to periodize his training:

Quantitative Changes (reps,volume,weight etc)
Qualitative Changes (change the exercises)

In the training community both concepts are present:
Like Wendlers 531 who favours point 1 or Dante Trudels DC who favours point 2. Or westside who uses both: Exercise rotation on ME day and exercise/volume/rep rotation on RE day.

My question is, how you periodize your training. Which method has been proven for you to be superior for Hypertrophy?


MY take:

Still fan of the HLM system I tried 2 variations:

Rotating the reps but remaining the same exercises on all days.
Rotating the exercises and Reps.

In my case I didn�´t noticed any difference. No method was superior as long as the reps were mixed up.

Now I want to try to remain my rep and volume paramters but switch the exercises between each other.
So when the bearbell bench was trained heavy and the dumbbell press light the last cycle, the next cycle it will get flipped. Dumbbell heavy, barbell light.

I change almost everything. At first it was getting out of hand, as i was doing this to avoid boredom more than anything else. I got results from it, so i kept it up with confidence. Everything usually consists of changing exercises (my fav), workout days, the order of the workouts, switching the muscles in the split, changing the split and maybe hitting a muscle x2 a week, now i have been trying out the changing of reps- these have been the ones i have been using mostly.

It been scientifically proven that more work in less time equals more muscle. Paraphrasing it would be a Endurance athlete who does more total work but less work per second compared to a sprinter who does less total work but more work per second. Obviously the sprinter has more muscle mass. Therefore, I feel reducing rest times is the most beneficial way to increase hypertrophy. Increasing weight is a close second. Pair both together while only raising the weights every 3 weeks or so in order to keep decent form has worked best for me.

Like Reg Park, I believe there are 1 or 2 good exercises for each muscle group and the rest are just for variation from time to time so I stick with 2 or 3 exercises per muscle group that I have found work for me. I change up the reps from 6-15 but my favorite recently has been Gironda’s 4 sets with 10-8-6-15 reps. I hit everything twice a week with either 3 or 4 days of rest since the last workout

Both work, for me rotating rep ranges works slightly better.

I think following is really important:

Progressive Overload

But here I think it gets blurry and someone should distinguish between Progressive Overload and Progression.


IF you do 3x8-this is your progression overload stimulus which leads to progression. After each session you notive you get stronger and CAN increase your reps, weight whatever.

If you stall out at some point with 3x8 and thats not because of overtraining or diet-you-as you noticed right-have to increase the demands on the body.
The principle of increasing loading demands.

So WHAT IS an increased demand for the body?

Switching from 3x8 to 5x5 is from the worload perspektive.
But so is switching to 2x20 regarding the metabolical demands, or decrease rest time.
So is to switch to an exercise the body is not used to. A new pattern the CNS has to learn and adapt to.
So is to increase ferquency.
So is to increase volume.

Zatjorski mentions the point of diminishing returns-after a point (which will vary upon lifters) an increase in work will not yield more results but will lead to a diminished effect. You can´t add exercises or sets forever.
Thats why he advocates qualitative changes.

So were is the difference between VARIETY and INCREASING DEMANDS?
In my examples all points mentioned above are increasing demands from different views.

Is a different stimulus a more demanding stimulus?

I say: YES. look at my examples.

LEts make them more specific:

-For strength switching form 3x8 to 5x5 seems logical.
-For sitze switching from 3x8 to 5x5 OR 2x20 might be an option.
-For improving bench switching from barbell bench to close grip bench might be useful to increase triceps strength in your lift. Thats weakness training but also variation. You vary the grip. You change the exercise.
-For improving “chest” switching from barbell bench to dumbbell bench might be an option for this goal.

What I want to say:
The principle of increasing loading demands and principle of variety work close together.That results in Progressive Overload. This allows you to break out of ACCOMODATION and allows again for PROGRESSION.

BUT the new demanding/different stimulus has to be carefully chosen to meet your goals.

Here’s what has worked best for me, for strength and size. I do pretty much the same thing every time, but add more weight when ready, or decrease time in between sets. For instance:
Tuesday’s Chest- warm up, empty bar, pyramid up to
5x225, 5x235, 5x245, 5x225, 5x225 about 3 mins in between sets
sets 2 and 3 were up by 10#'s each from last week
Incline db press 5 sets of 10 w/75#ers, 1 min in between each set
drop sets machine fly…blahblahblah…
Friday will be 5x5 with the 225 bb bench, decline db flys (55’s?) into db press 10 each, 4 sets
It’s always a slightly different version of the same thing, the main lift being the same.
For me, too much variation=not so good at anything. Jack of all trades kinda thing…
If it’s legs I only squat or do RDL or walking lunge with a plate over my head. It’s simple but hard.
Like my brain.

haha. I liked the last sentence.

Other opinions.
What do others change when diet and rest is in line?

Training Variables:
*Rest Interval
*Exercise Selection
*Method Of Execution

Understanding how manipulating each one effects results is critical.

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:
Training Variables:
*Rest Interval
*Exercise Selection
*Method Of Execution

Understanding how manipulating each one effects results is critical. [/quote]

Man you look good in the avatar. You remind me a bit of randy savage. (elbowdropcomin)

True this are the possible paramters. When do you know which to change?

I train HLM.
H 2x5,1x5-8 reps
M: 3x10

As mentioned i want to remain the paramters but rotate the exercises.
I would have no good idea how to change the set rep schemes, because they already are different from each other and represent the main three reps schemes (heavy,medium, light reps)possible.

How would you handle that?