Routine vs Variety
● Benefits of routine training and exercise
● Benefits of variety in training and exercise
● Which works best?
This is a question that I get asked almost daily; which is better - regular routine or variation in exercise?
Both certainly have pro’s and con’s. The main determining factor is what is the OUTCOME goal of your training and exercise. For example, if you are looking to achieve muscle growth or a lean physique and you are a beginner to weight training from a fairly sedentary background, then a routine programme would suffice.
In this scenario, I would prescribe a full body resistance training programme that would be 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions at manageable weights for somewhere between 4-6 weeks; this would then be reviewed and then would be adapted based on the feedback received. If my client enjoyed this routine then I would adapt the exercises, sets and reps so they don't plateau (I.e. become used to the same exercises so they are no longer as effective).
The main benefit to routine training is it is very easy to follow and effective for tracking progress I.e. increase in reps, increases in weights lifted etc. It is also very feasible to gradually progress; this is known as progressive overload. Progressive overload is when you introduce slight adaptions to the programme to implement a change e.g. Bench Press 3 sets x 10 reps @ 40kg. Progressing to Bench Press 3 sets x 10 reps @ 45kg.
Personally I am a huge fan of variety in my exercise and training (called non-linear training). It is when you mix up your regime e.g. varying exercise, varying sets and rest times etc. I really enjoy this style of training as I never get bored and can really challenge my body with higher weights, longer sprints etc. I will always change my regime so it seems more freestyled whilst still tracking the programme I do on the day – this means that I can still monitor progress I.e. increases in weights, reps etc.
I find the top benefit to variety in training is that boredom doesn’t set in. I think this style of training suits the more experienced person who trains regularly, however it can be performed by all – non-linear training is much better than not training at all.
So which one works best? The answer is it depends on what level you feel you are at and your experience with training. Both are beneficial but if you are not sure which one you think might work best for you do consult your PT.