T Nation

How Often Do YOU Change Something?


Looking through KingBeef's thread I noticed he mentioned changing the routine he was on a few times and just from reading a few other logs and whatnot I'm interested, how often do you guys personally change your routine and what changes does that include?

I know a few bodybuilders who keep a few things constant for 4-6 workouts while changing the lighter lifts every workout (whether that be swapping in new ones or changing intensity techniques). This may be with or without the same split (one of the guys I'm thinking of has done the same split for 10 years or so but changes a lot within that). Others do a pre-set routines (5/3/1, BBB, DC, etc.) for one or two runs through then change it while others will stick to the same thing for a long time only changing something when a lift stalls for awhile and even then they change only that exercise (I think SteelyD does this). Some guys recently doing these John Meadows Mountain Dog workouts seem to change things every workout. It seems like it would be tough to track progress that way but then again it's not like advanced trainees can count on solely weight progression anyway.

Anyway this isn't to ask for advice about what I should do, just curious as to what some of the bigger guys here personally do.


I keep my heavy compounds consistent and change isolation and accessory work every workout. No two workouts look the same. I focus on hitting PRs on the big exercises and care more about working the muscle on the secondary exercises that weight and reps really don't matter all that much. I don't need to track progress on lat pulldowns or concentration curls or skull crushers, I'd rather be satisfied feeling the muscle work. I know something is going wrong if the big lifts stagnate or begin to go down..


Thanks for your input, you're one of the guys I had in mind for this thread. Nice new pic by the way.

I like that idea and it's what I'm seeing more and more guys doing. It also makes things more fun (I just changed a few things at the end of my workouts this week since I'm getting a little bored doing the same thing for so many months). Lat pulldowns is a "big lift" in some routines but the same point holds. I was looking through Akuma's log and saw him curling what I was curling and thought wtf is this lol, but he's rowing 3-4 plates, squatting 4-5 plates, pressing 120's for reps, etc so there you go...


Yes. I have my core lifts that will probably stay forever: bb bench/incl, db press/incl, db shoulder presses, fr. squats, db rows, leg press, dips, pr. curls

Everything else is isolation or machine. I don't have to worry about 'thinking' about changes because I visit so many different gyms during the year (work travel) that really whats available dictates my lifts for the week. I think it's been beneficial.

Sound's like a lot of change, but it's really not-- just variations on a theme, so hitting the same bodyparts slightly differently.

I don't think my 'core' lifting scheme has changed much in 4 years.

** Edit to add: On any given day, I may change up reps or sets just based on how I feel that day. Listening to body ALWAYS trumps "training schedule".


I have certain basic exercises I do and like for each bodypart. and I rotate them each workout. Since I work each bodypart 2x per week, i have to use more variety. Take chest, I love using the power rack when doing inclines. I don't really do regular benches anymore. 1 chest workout, i will do some heavy inclines in the power rack. then followed up with machine bench presses. next workout, i might start with dips, then do some hammer strength inclines.

What seems to be constant with me is: my body doesn't seem to tolerate alot of volume. I recently tried mixing it up by doing more volume, but cutting back on the intensity a bit. all that did was make me feel flat with no pump and feeling like shit.


While changing these things have you been on the same split? I guess you stick with one main movement for awhile, switch it out after it stalls for a few weeks, then when the new one stalls you switch back, etc.?

I'm doing well working with someone now so I won't be changing anything besides what he tells me for the time being but in the future I think I may do a bit more "instinctual" training with the first half being my core lifts and second half being more "bodybuilding" stuff (for lack of a better term) like squeezing every rep, slow eccentrics, super sets, etc.. although its been my experience 90% of growth just comes from getting stronger on the main lifts.

How long do you keep the same split/workout?


Yea man, it's not all about the weight lifted...Just from form alone and squeezing reps, holding contractions and controlling the negatives you can make things that seem like "light weight" really heavy.

I like the variation too because it keeps things interesting.


The exercises vary from training day to training day. You always want your body adapting to new situations, new movements.

Rep/sets are usualy program oriented. I go in with a game plan that usualy changes every 5 or 6 weeks. Like right now I'm doing advanced gvt ( 5 reps of 10 sets on the big lifts )

On occassion, middle cycle I will do the opposite for 1 week, almost like a deload? But not? Say my program is based around high volume, for a week I will run low volume higher intensity. Almost as a deload? But not? Like when I did gvt 10x10 on the third week I did 5x5. Just experimenting with stuff.

Every 5 or 6 weeks is good in my opinion, unless the program calls for more like 8 or 12 weeks.


Same basic split, yep! Exception is that I'm getting more arms now (2-3x per week) and try to hit things 2x week.


once you reach a certain strength level, its tough combining certain muscle groups together. I could never combine chest and back. by the time im done with chest, even though my volume is low, I use a decent amount of weight and come close to failure during the set. So, I wouldn't have the necessary energy levels to properly do my back. So i normally always do tris after chest. its easier on my elbows and joints this way. combining a large muscle with a smaller muscle seems to work well. ie.... chest-tris, back-bis. I'm always changing the order of the exercises as well.



On a related note when you guys stall on a lift do you take a week (or a few weeks) and start lighter with the new movement? That seems a bit more traditional in powerlifting (i.e. deadlift stalls, start new "cycle" with a lighter weight building back up to a higher weight then you previously got to, etc..) or do you just start blasting away as hard as you can on the new exercise?

I tried front squats today for the first time in 8 months (switching out split squats) and hit a slightly lower weight than the last time (going pretty much all out right away) but given my strength increases on the split squat I'm sure I could blow past my old PR within a few weeks. It seems going lighter would make more sense when sticking with the same exercise (as mentioned with the deadlift example)...not that that always works though


Yea Back/Chest together can suck. Depends on the exercise selection I guess, I know a few big guys who like the split of Back/Chest, Legs, Shoulders/arms rotated so you hit the gym 4-5 days per week usually.

I tend to avoid changing exercises/order much because its annoying not knowing if you beat your last workout, but I suppose that becomes less possible the stronger you get.

Guys like John Meadows get me though....when they never do the same workout but apparently continue to grow just switching things up all the time and pushing themselves (I say apparently because I haven't seem before and after pics where he/someone is significantly weaker but bigger)


I definitely agree with this, when I started I could do chest and back no problem but now both muscle groups take so much out of me it would be extremely counter productive for myself to do this still. As for myself I keep the main lifts the same for the most part but I do change the rep and set ranges often. I used to change things every week and this turned out to be a good thing because Ive now found the exercises that work the absolute best for me which is an extremely valuable thing training wise.


What about a guy like Arnold who could bench press over 500lbs, deadlift 7xx and would train chest, back, arms and shoulders all in the same day? I train chest and back together and love it.


Not sure where you got he could bench press 500lbs, but thats alot more than he ever benched. Plus, he did alot of volume, true, but he didn't go all that heavy. he did have those days where he did power days, but for the most part, he just did alot of reps and alot of sets, but not going to failure.


Im not saying that no matter what if your strong you have to train back and Chest on different days, I was simply saying for myself after doing back with the volume I like to use, would not be able to give chest the attention it needs after.


I had no idea Arnold could bench 500 and deadlift 700


Also how about those days when things just go poorly and you end up missing lifts, do you guys personally just stop the workout, go lighter with some volume stuff instead, change exercises, etc? And when it happens during a cut, do you just accept that that's what happens? Weird thing happened today, I was down 2 reps on my first bench exercise then hit a PR on my 2nd :\