When to change a routine?

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When to change a routine?

Post by bjwuk » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:28 pm

Hi,

How frequently do you change your routiune? By this I mean the exercises themselves rather than the weight etc.

I do a full-body weights workout every other day and up until recently have religiously changed the routine every month. I wonder whether being too strict with this means I sometimes change a routinue that is still providing gains and sometimes stick with a routinue too long that isn't working.

Are you best to just be guided by how your feeling and change the routine when you start feeling stale?

Regards,

Ben


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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Proper Knob » Thu Apr 07, 2011 12:32 pm

bjwuk wrote:Hi, How frequently do you change your routiune? By this I mean the exercises themselves rather than the weight etc.Ben
Dave Tate touched on this in his recent article at t-nation.com

The more I read and the more I "learned," the more I changed programs. As a result, rather than "fine tuning" or "tweaking" my progress, I made no progress. In hindsight, I would've been better off just picking a decent program and sticking with it until mastering it.

I see people making this mistake all the time, especially the young guys coming up in the information era, where every lifter and his mother have their log posted online.

These guys leap from program to program like frogs leaping from lily pad to lily pad. They're following a solid program until some other frog croaks about a new Conjugate Eastern Bloc hybrid that they're making great gains off of, so they ditch what they're doing and leap to the next lily pad.

Jumping from lily pad to lily pad is okay until you miss. When you do, you better know how to swim.

I tell guys that the smart frog ignores all the other frogs and just swims underneath the lily pads to the other side. Pick a good program and follow it to the letter until you master it. So when you're on the other side of the pond happily eating bugs, the rest of the frogs will still be jumping from lily pad to lily pad.

Sure, some of the pad jumpers will make it over to eat bugs beside you, but most will just keep missing, and all you'll hear is the "ribbit ribbit ribbit" of a pond full of frogs blaming everything but themselves for still being stuck on the pads.

This guy had better gear, that guy had better drugs, that federation had messed up rules, ribbit, ribbit, ribbit.

During my first phase of training I used the same program for basically five years and it was tremendously successful. When I finally got to Westside, I did that program for 12 years – and learned it from a guy who was using it for 20 years before I got there.


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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Oscar_Actuary » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:02 pm

if this is a survey, I haven't gone 2 weeks on the same "routine" yet. But the general structure and lifts are similar.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by KenDowns » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:39 am

bjwuk wrote:How frequently do you change your routiune? By this I mean the exercises themselves rather than the weight etc.
I've only been at it 8-9 months, but for what its worth:

1) I started with a push/pull split taken from exrx.net.

2) For some time I would add/remove one exercise about every two weeks. Calf raises gave me shin splints, I was gradually buying new equipment, it was one reason or another.

Somewhere in there I gained enough experience to get from "Untrained" to "Bare Basic Beginner" but just that little bit of experience, plus reading these forums, caused me to make the first major permanent change that stabilized my program:

3) Dropped everything but the "big 6" and kept with that for 6 weeks

But I was pushing the weights very hard and ended up with a stiff neck and multiplying aches and pains, so I took a few days off and resumed yesterday with:

4) Stonglifts 5x5, which the author claims you can maintain as a beginner for 6-12 months, depending on where you're starting from.

Having now gone from "Untrained" to "Bare Basic Beginner" to "Mid-experienced Beginner" I have enough experience to understand that sticking with this program for several months will be very productive and rewarding.

One last thought: having added and removed lots of exercises, some of them only for one day, I no longer worry that I'm missing something. There are basic compounds and isolations, they both have their place, and as a beginner going for strength I've been taught basic compounds are my best foundation, so that's what I'm sticking with.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Jungledoc » Fri Apr 08, 2011 10:01 am

At first you may need to change some while finding the program that's best for you. At first you'll probably be doing a linear program, and when that plateaus change to a basic periodized program. After that, don't change the program much. Change your accessories as often as you want--when you're bored, when you don't think a lift is contributing to your progress, etc. The main exercises should be changed less often. Usually this will represent switching to a variation of the main lift--high-box step-ups in place of squat, GMs in place of DL, etc.

Some programs have more variation built in, like Schuler and Cosgrove's NROL. They give you several 12-week mini-programs, and you cycle among them.

I'm a bit hypocritical here. Over the last several months I made a lot of changes, none of which proved to be particularly useful to me. I'm now back to a straight, by-the-book 5/3/1. I'll probably still make small changes in my accessories every 4 weeks or so.


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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:11 am

Proper Knob wrote:
bjwuk wrote:Hi, How frequently do you change your routiune? By this I mean the exercises themselves rather than the weight etc.Ben
Dave Tate touched on this in his recent article at t-nation.com

The more I read and the more I "learned," the more I changed programs. As a result, rather than "fine tuning" or "tweaking" my progress, I made no progress. In hindsight, I would've been better off just picking a decent program and sticking with it until mastering it.


Training Age

Training age has to do with how long you have been training...12 months, 3 years, etc.

Training age means the longer you have been training the fast you body adapts to change...a new workout program. Thus, those who are new to training will continue to progress much longer than those who have been training longer.

Younger Training Age = Less Frequent Program Change

Older Training Age = More Frequent Work Program Change

Undulating/Non-Linear Periodization

Some of the latest data indicates more frequent change provides the best stiumlate for making progress. "Undulating Periodzation"/Cosgrove http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/alwyn3.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

How Often To Change?

When you STOP making progress...the the Cliff Note Answer.

With that said, like most things, it a debateable topic with many schools of thought.

One school is:

DAILY Undulating Periodization

Each training session is different.

2-3 Week Blocks

"Both Poliquin and Zatsiorsky recommended alternating 2-3..."
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/traini ... art-1.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Thus, exercise program are changed every 2-3 weeks.

My Personal Experience

My program has revolved around using one program for 3 weeks and then chaning it. What I've found is that my progress stops after three weeks on a program.

MY Experimention With DUP/DAILY Undulating Periodization

Like Paperclip, I ended up losing ground when chaning my program up each workout. However, I did learn from it.

What I found was combining both (a 3 week block with a DUP) was elicited a more effective training program.

The Combo Workout.

1) A 3 Week Block of Peridozaion for "...specific biomotor capacities (i.e. strength, power, endurance) would be emphasized"...Poliquin and Zatsiorsky

That mean a 3 Week Block of Periodization for my core auxiliary powerlifting exercises. Two complex training exercises for each of the powerlifts.

2) DAILY Synergistic Undulating Periodization Exercises

Performing 1-2 completely different Synergistic Exercise (exercises that would enhance my squat, bench press, or squat) each workout.

Squat Synertgistic Exercise Example:

Workout 1: Leg Press, 3 Sets X 20 Reps

Workout 2: Safety Bar Squats, 5 Sets X 3 Reps

Workout 3: Belt Squats, 3 Setx X 10 Reps

Disposable Synergistic Exercises

These exercises are disposable. That means you can pretty much train them as hard as you want because you the following week, you'll be performing a different exercise with different sets and reps.

Mentally Fresh

I found/find chaning the Synergistic Exercises up to be mentally refreshing as much as physically.

I see people making this mistake all the time, especially the young guys coming up in the information era, where every lifter and his mother have their log posted online.

These guys leap from program to program like frogs leaping from lily pad to lily pad. They're following a solid program until some other frog croaks about a new Conjugate Eastern Bloc hybrid that they're making great gains off of, so they ditch what they're doing and leap to the next lily pad.

Jumping from lily pad to lily pad is okay until you miss. When you do, you better know how to swim.

I tell guys that the smart frog ignores all the other frogs and just swims underneath the lily pads to the other side. Pick a good program and follow it to the letter until you master it. So when you're on the other side of the pond happily eating bugs, the rest of the frogs will still be jumping from lily pad to lily pad.

Sure, some of the pad jumpers will make it over to eat bugs beside you, but most will just keep missing, and all you'll hear is the "ribbit ribbit ribbit" of a pond full of frogs blaming everything but themselves for still being stuck on the pads.

This guy had better gear, that guy had better drugs, that federation had messed up rules, ribbit, ribbit, ribbit.


Funny and great analogy

Fear

The primariy factor that drives individuals to change their program so often like that is:

1) Lack of Confidence

2) Lack of Knowledge

3) Unrealistic Expectations

They fear they are going down the wrong road because they are not seeing immediate results. They lack the knowledge to know what works and doesn't work. Also, if they don't see results in a week, they believe they are going down the wrong road.

Afraid of Change

The other side of the coin are those who NEVER change their program. They are afraid of losing ground and going backwards.

My guarantee

With individuals like that I guarantee them that they are initially going to lose ground/go backwards with any new program. It is just part of the learning process.

"One Step Backwards, Two Steps Forward"

However, what ends up happening is that the one step backward lead to two steps forward with a well planned program...most of the time.

Kenny Croxdale

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by bjwuk » Sat Apr 09, 2011 10:32 am

Thanks everyone,

I think from now on I'm going to be guided much more by if I feel I'm still making gains and feeling the benfit of a particular routine, rather than being rigid and thinking I must change every x days or y weeks.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Ironman » Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:49 pm

Disposable Synergistic Exercises

These exercises are disposable. That means you can pretty much train them as hard as you want because you the following week, you'll be performing a different exercise with different sets and reps.
Kenny, I've seen you mention this once before. I'd be interested in hearing more about that. I tend to loose strength in the squat fairly quickly if I am cutting, or if I do a different quad exercise for 3 or 4 weeks. Much more than any other lift. So I train it fairly hard after that, quickly regain my strength, and then after a few weeks, It seems like I lose strength. Usually I do a 5X5 with an increasing load, with one or 2 sets near maximum, sometimes the last set I'll even do 3 reps near maximum. I do this once a week.

My legs are definitely stronger than glutes and lower back. So should I take it easy on the squat, and train something else hard?

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Stefan 93 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:31 pm

bjwuk, but don't expect that you can increase weights with every workout! If that was the case, then for ten years, you would lift tons in squats. You should work in cycles.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Jungledoc » Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:34 pm

Stefan 93 wrote:bjwuk, but don't expect that you can increase weights with every workout! If that was the case, then for ten years, you would lift tons in squats. You should work in cycles.
Increasing weight every exercise is linear progression. Nobody suggests that you do that for 10 years! But one should do it for as long as one can keep making progress. With an initial stall, one should probably reset and run at it again. If you can go higher but stall again, you can still reset and run at it again. But when you reset and can't go beyond the previous stall, then it is time to, as you say, "work in cycles". That's periodization, and that has built-in changes, but that's not really "changing programs". A program for an advanced lifter should include planned changes, but that's not what Tate was criticizing. He's talking about changing radically from one type of program to another without good reason.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Stefan 93 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:08 am

I know that Jungledoc, but I had an impression that everything sounded like he should progress in every workout, and then change exercises.
I think it is the best to stick with the same compounds because their technique is the hardest to learn, and that we should do whatever we want with isolations (if we need them).

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by bjwuk » Sun Apr 10, 2011 5:28 am

Stefan 93 wrote:bjwuk, but don't expect that you can increase weights with every workout! If that was the case, then for ten years, you would lift tons in squats. You should work in cycles.
I appreciate that there is a limit to what you can lift, I only mentioned weight in my original post beacuse I wanted to make it clear that when I was talking about change I was talking about the exercises themselves not the weight being lifted.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Matt Z » Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:19 am

I'm a little weird in that I made up my own program after trying both bodybuilding style splits and Legs/Push/Pull. I've made pretty good gains on this program and seem to be progressing well. I varry my rep-ranges often, but only rarely change exercises, although recently I've been substatuting Barbell Box Squats for regular Barbell Back Squats ... Not sure yet how this will effect my progress.

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Kenny Croxdale » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:41 am

Ironman wrote:
Disposable Synergistic Exercises

These exercises are disposable. That means you can pretty much train them as hard as you want because you the following week, you'll be performing a different exercise with different sets and reps.
Kenny, I've seen you mention this once before.


Ironman,

Yes, I posted some inforamation on it at http://www.exrx.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=7359" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

KPj, utilizes some of the same protocol in his lifting

I'd be interested in hearing more about that.


Disposable Exercises

Dispoasable Exercise is my terminology for changing your Prime Assiatance Exercise out with every cycle.

Prime Assiatance Exercises

These are exercises that are similar in nature to the movement your want to build strength in.

Squat Example: Belt Squats, Step Ups, Front Squats, High Bar Squats, Wide Stance Squats, Zercher Squats, etc.

Change It Up

Changing an assistance exercise may be as simple as simply changing your stance in a squat or deadlift, changing your hand position in a bench press or lat pulldown, or chaning the angle...performing a delcine press one cycle and then an incline press the next cycle.

Genearal Adapataion Sydrome (Muslce Confusion) Exercises

Changing your Prime Auxiliary Exercises up each cycle is performed for the same reason as changing your sets, reps, rest sets, ect. Your muscles and nervous system has to adapt and grow.

I tend to loose strength in the squat fairly quickly if I am cutting,


Everyone, for the most part, loses strength when dropping weight. That is why they have weight classes in many sports.
or if I do a different quad exercise for 3 or 4 weeks. Much more than any other lift. So I train it fairly hard after that, quickly regain my strength, and then after a few weeks, It seems like I lose strength.
Ebb And Flow

That's true with strength and everything else in the world. What you can squat one week isn't usually the same what you can squat the following week.

That is the point of a training cycle. You want to be your strongest in your final training cycle week.

Four Week Taining Cycle Example.

Think of the first three weeks as "Warm Ups Sets" for your max set (your fourth week).

Let's say you want top set of Squat to be 350 X 5 Reps. Your "Warm Up Weeks" might look like this for your tops set each week.

Week 1: 275 X 5

Week 2: 300 X 5

Week 3: 325 X 5

Week 4: 350 X As many as you can push out.

Week 5 becomes Week 1 of your new training cycle.

Usually I do a 5X5 with an increasing load, with one or 2 sets near maximum, sometimes the last set I'll even do 3 reps near maximum
.

Clarification

I just want to make sure I understand this. My Undersatanding is that your "5X5 with an increasing load" would look something like this in a Squat.

Set 1: 135 X 5

Set 2: 185 X 5

Set 3: 205 X 5

Set 4: 225 X 5

Set 5: 275 X 3 plus.

Would that be correct?

While that works, I'd advocated performing them differntly with an:

Inverted Pyramid

Set 1: 135 X 5

Set 2: 185 X 3

Set 3: 205 X 2

Set 4: 225 X 1

Set 5: 275 X 5

Warm Ups

The purpose of a warm up is preparation for you top set. The top set is the one that really counts.

That means you want to save EVERYTHING for the top set. That is best accomplished by doing little as you can in the warm up...saving it for you top set.

The Inverted Pyramid accomplishes this.

I do this once a week.
Squatting heavy once per week usually works best for someone like you who has been training for a while. Also, larger muscles require more recovery time.
My legs are definitely stronger than glutes and lower back.
Weak Link Training

As you know, you need to increase your glute and lower back strength to improve your squat.

My Squat Problem

Unlike you, my legs and abs are my weak link. My lower back is my strength.

That means I have to work a little hard on leg with exercises like Belt Squats and Step Ups that put the workload on the legs and take it off the back.

I also have to do more ab work.

So should I take it easy on the squat, and train something else hard?
Ya gotta Squat

To get good at squatting (anything) you have to practice it. However, as Vince Lombardi said:

"Practice Doesn't Make Perfect. PERFECT PRACTICE Makes Perfect."

This is one of the things that many of "my own people" (powerlifters) don't understand. (Any powerlifter who can string together in a coherent sentence is a genius).

Technique Training

The focus on technique training is just that...focus on doing the movement right. It NOT about getting stronger, per se.

This is best accomplished for lifters by performing heavy loads (85% plus) for single repetitions.

What Research Show

A brilliant piece of work is Bench Press More Now by Dr Tom McLaughlin (PhD Exercise Biomechanics and former powerlifter). It $20 at http://www.crain.ws/books_powerlifting.html#top" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

McLaughlin's Research

As McLaughlin states, "Technique is EVERYTHING!"

What McLaughlin's research demonstrated is that technique is best developed in the bench press by performing heavy single in the bench press.

That because muscle invovement changes with the percentage of the load. While the same muscle are involved in bench pressing with any percentage, the firing order changes.

Tug Of War

One year, I was on a "Tug of War" team for a charity event. We had some big, strong guys...much stronger than the opposition.

However, we got beat.

Success of The Other Team

The other team succeeded in beating us because they had practiced. They ALL pulled TOGHTER at the same time.

We lost because NO one pulled together at the same time.

Team Effort

Thus, part of what technique training with heavy singles does is "teach" the muslces to fire together as a "team unit."

How Many Singles?

Fatigue is the determinate factor of how many singles to perform.

Once your technique falls a part (fatigue), STOP. Continueing reinfoces technique...BAD Technique.

McLaughlin's Recommendation Exercises

McLaughlin recommends the most effective method of increasing strength in the bench press is by training exercises that are similar to the "competition lift" or movement. (Westside advocates this, as well).

Thus, performing heavy Dips, Incline Press, etc will build strength for the bench press.

"Method Change, Principles Remain The Same." Cosgrove

The same applies with your squat or any other movement.

1) Perform Auxiliary Exercises Similar To Your Lift Or Movement.

2) Change The "Disposable Auxiliary Exercise" Up Every Cycle. Again changing the exericse can be as simple as going from a wide high bar squat to a narrow low bar squat.

The beauty of "Disposable Auxiliary Exercises" is that you can pretty much train them into the ground/overtrain them. That because the next cycle your going to be starting over using a different Auxiliary exercise and starting over the next cycle.

Recycling "Disposable"

Just as with recycling platic containers, you can recycle "Disposable Exericises" after a few weeks or months.

Kenny Croxdale

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Re: When to change a routine?

Post by Ironman » Sun Apr 10, 2011 1:25 pm

Thanks, that helps a lot. Yes, the 5x5 I was doing is a exactly like what you have there. I do two warm ups before the 5, mainly just to get the my legs loosened up and get the blood flowing. So I'll do maybe 8 to 10 with the the bar, and then 5 or 6 at 95 lbs. Then I feel ready to go. As a matter of fact my personal best was exactly what you have there. I just barely got three at 275. The next week I was hoping to try a single at 315, but my knee started acting up. So I had to take it easy for a couple weeks until it stopped bothering me.

I just got done with cutting not quite 3 weeks ago, I got 3 at 205. I'm down to 192 (at 5' 9"). I'd guess 12 to 13% since I can faintly see my abs and I'm getting a little muscle separation in my back. But who knows for sure.

I'll try your pyramid. That sounds like a plan. Then I'll pick an assistance lift to do afterwords too. Maybe a more hip/glute dominant version of the squat.


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