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Default Are frequent program changes necessary ?
by Carl1174 02-23-2011, 04:29 AM

Stupid Myths: Frequent Changes Are a Necessity
by Christian Thibaudeau - 02/21/2011

Another very commonly accepted idea is that to progress you need to completely change your workout very often (authorities recommend anywhere between changing every 2 to 6 weeks). If you listen to them, if you do not do that, you are an idiot doomed to a life of stagnation in the gym. As you might tend to believe, I do not agree with them. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Look at some of the most successful athletes and bodybuilders; they stick to the same program for very long. Oh, sometimes they might change the number of reps or sets that they do (within reason) but most of them stick to the same lifts week in and week out.

All elite olympic lifters only do the snatch, clean & jerk, squat and front squat (a minority will throw in a few assistance exercises) and most of them don't vary their reps much. Yet their strength goes up.

Dorian Yates stuck to the same training program for all his Olympia wins, except for some minor changes because of injuries.

Ed Coan and many top powerlifters from the 80s and 90s used the same exercises year round, only varying the reps.

2. Often times frequent training revamping is (like the 1-hour rule) a way for trainers to make more money. Since it's good for business, it is in their interest to promote the myth that you need to change your training (and thus BUY a new program) frequently. When a lot of people say the same thing, that thing eventually begin to be seen as factual, even if the guys doing the talking have an interest.

3. When you first start a program it takes you a week or two to get used to it, learn the exercises and master them. Even if you know the exercises, if you've been away from them for a while you have quick "progress" for 2 or 3 weeks. That progress isn't due to better muscle stimulation, simply to an improved coordination and efficiency on that lift.

After 3 weeks or so, the "quick" gains (neural adaptations) stop and your progress slows down. You then change your program completely and you start improving your lifts again... not because you are getting stronger or bigger... because you are getting used to the new lifts. It gives an ILLUSION of progress but in reality very little growth will be stimulated.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't vary your training, far from it. I include a lot of variation in my own training. But these are micro-variations... doing a few more or a few less sets... varying the reps a bit ... adding or removing an assistance lift, etc. I stick with the basic movements for a while. It is not until you are very efficient at them that your body will need to build more tissue to adapt. If you change these exercises too often then they will not give you their full benefits.

I always stick to the same movement "core"... for me these are the push press, bench press, power snatch, squat and a form of pulldown. These will stick with me almost year round. The assistance work is then adjusted daily on a need-to basis.

from T NATION | Training Lab LiVESPILL

Remember only DOING A LOT OF HARD WORK will bring real muscle growth... frequent changes (complete revamping of a program) only gives the illusion of progress.


Carl.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:16 AM   #11
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I wish I knew where this idea came from that you have to change programs every 8 weeks or you will die. In a general sense (AAS), I know, but as a lifting rule...
Muscle confusion! (j/k)


I assume it's more aimed at the bodybuilder who finds he's not making gains, whereas a strength trainer won't make gains by dropping the lifts he's trying to improve on, or at least not if the lifts are dropped for too long.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:26 AM   #12
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I wish I knew where this idea came from that you have to change programs every 8 weeks or you will die. In a general sense (AAS), I know, but as a lifting rule...
When you read logs on other sites, you can clearly see that they people who are getting bigger and stronger are using the one program for a LONG time (tweaking reps, sets, weights). Guys who complain of not getting bigger or stronger and swapping 531 for Texas for SS for Westwide almost monthly, it seems.

People have this idea the once you are comfortable in the routine, that you need to change it up. No, I think once you are comfortable, you need to step it up.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:35 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by *MC* View Post
When you read logs on other sites, you can clearly see that they people who are getting bigger and stronger are using the one program for a LONG time (tweaking reps, sets, weights). Guys who complain of not getting bigger or stronger and swapping 531 for Texas for SS for Westwide almost monthly, it seems.

People have this idea the once you are comfortable in the routine, that you need to change it up. No, I think once you are comfortable, you need to step it up.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by *MC* View Post
When you read logs on other sites, you can clearly see that they people who are getting bigger and stronger are using the one program for a LONG time (tweaking reps, sets, weights). Guys who complain of not getting bigger or stronger and swapping 531 for Texas for SS for Westwide almost monthly, it seems.

People have this idea the once you are comfortable in the routine, that you need to change it up. No, I think once you are comfortable, you need to step it up.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:40 AM   #15
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People have this idea the once you are comfortable in the routine, that you need to change it up. No, I think once you are comfortable, you need to step it up.
That's the quote of the day right there.

This issue is much bigger than we think. I get many, many questions each day from beginners asking what they should change to after 8 weeks. It's really sad that they believe they must swap out core, essential lifts.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:53 AM   #16
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That's the quote of the day right there.

This issue is much bigger than we think. I get many, many questions each day from beginners asking what they should change to after 8 weeks. It's really sad that they believe they must swap out core, essential lifts.
You guys are awesome. I mean, I used to think I needed to change things drastically to see progress. And while there is something to be said about not becoming bored with a routine, I think being consistent and pushing yourself (even if its just a little some weeks) is vastly underrated.

Once you know the lifts you do, feel good about them, and understand the limits of your body (to avoid injuring yourself each week), that is when you can really take off.

I've done the same basic split since Jan 2010 with some modifications based on (too many redundant lifts, too much/too little volume, my shoulder injury, etc.). Once I got my eating nailed in, things really took off. I feel like I'm proof that you don't need to change.

I've never been bigger or stronger than I am today, even when some of my lifts were heavier than what I lift currently. My form is far better and I know the limits of both my back and shoulder like never before.

I feel like all programs need to say" "Run for 6-8 months at a minimum. And EAT."
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:54 AM   #17
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That's the quote of the day right there.

This issue is much bigger than we think. I get many, many questions each day from beginners asking what they should change to after 8 weeks. It's really sad that they believe they must swap out core, essential lifts.
I see this all the time....

People saying they are making gains, but have been doing a 'beginner' routine, with the 'basic' lifts. But then because its been 6-8 weeks they want to 'change it up' and start complicating things...

IMO the best routines are 'basic' with 'basic lifts'

If you are gaining, why change... Cant really get my head around that tbh...

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Old 02-23-2011, 10:58 AM   #18
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I'll be honest I was one of those people always changing things because thats what I read I had to do and even had trainers at my old gym tell me I had to change my routines to shock the muscles
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:58 AM   #19
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IMO the best routines are 'basic' with 'basic lifts'

If you are gaining, why change... Cant really get my head around that tbh...

Carl.
One thing I do know is this...once the weight on squats and bench, etc., becomes relatively heavy, form becomes more critical for me. It's hard enough remembering proper form essentials as it is, but removing one of these lifts from rotation would only make it more difficult. And for me, more dangerous.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:05 AM   #20
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I'll be honest I was one of those people always changing things because thats what I read I had to do and even had trainers at my old gym tell me I had to change my routines to shock the muscles
Me too Tim, the guy I worked out with preps guys and used to say we had to swap things about every 4 weeks to keep the muscles guessing and he lives in BB'ing circles... juiced ones admitedly...

I swapped around all the time though thinking that i would make better gains with different programs etc, always looking for that elusive 'wonder routine' that would have me spouting 18" arms within a fortnight....

All i really needed to grow, was a 'beginner' fullbody, with 'basic' lifts and a ton of good food

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