How Much Variability is Enough?

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Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Hi all,

My current goals are pretty tightly focused on some bodyweight goals revolving around basics (chins, dips and hover lunges).

In terms of programming, I am wondering if just varying grip, volume, effort (same but different) is enough variability over the course of the training year or if I should look to switch out exercises more often.

I like a stripped back and minimalist approach and trying to refine my performance on a small pool of exercises is enough to keep me interested. Just wondering if experience here shows it is optimal.

Thanks.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Good to test your progress two to four times a year. Picking dates on the calendar for those tests will bring some clarity to your program design.

-S-
 

Marc

Level 6 Valued Member
In my experience it is always best to have as few variables as possible.
In terms of exercises one arm pushups and pistols suffice. Add pullups to that and you are good to go. Within the exercises use slight variations. Dead stop oapu, oapu on fist, airbourne lunges, pistols standing on a sturdy book or plate with your toes looking over the edge, l-sit pullups and various grips.
For strength use heavy variations, multiple sets and 1-5 reps (maybe rather 1-3) and liberal rest periods.
For conditioning use lighter variations and combine the exercises in a circle using ladders or higher reps and shorter rest.
If you want to add kettlebells go for swings and/or snatches.
If you want to add another bw exercise go for (weighted) crawling.

So there you have it: 5 exercises max that you could use for the rest of your life and still get strong
 

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks Marc.

I'm a way off the OAPU and have a preference for dips at the moment but can use the recommendations.

I do utilise/rotate swings and farmers carries to top off sessions and a few bw iso holds (l sits and hip raises) but the focus is my version of a BW big 3.

I agree, chasing too many goals is not a good idea but also mindful of overuse potential and/or plateauing a move.

Thanks again for the suggestions.



In my experience it is always best to have as few variables as possible.
In terms of exercises one arm pushups and pistols suffice. Add pullups to that and you are good to go. Within the exercises use slight variations. Dead stop oapu, oapu on fist, airbourne lunges, pistols standing on a sturdy book or plate with your toes looking over the edge, l-sit pullups and various grips.
For strength use heavy variations, multiple sets and 1-5 reps (maybe rather 1-3) and liberal rest periods.
For conditioning use lighter variations and combine the exercises in a circle using ladders or higher reps and shorter rest.
If you want to add kettlebells go for swings and/or snatches.
If you want to add another bw exercise go for (weighted) crawling.

So there you have it: 5 exercises max that you could use for the rest of your life and still get strong
 

Carl

Level 5 Valued Member
Thanks Steve.

Yes, I try to be process focused, treat my sessions as practice (as Pavel would encourage) and let the PRs just come but I also have to unlearn many years of trying to force them.



Good to test your progress two to four times a year. Picking dates on the calendar for those tests will bring some clarity to your program design.

-S-
 

Debbie Hayes

SFG Team Leader, SFB, SFL, Iron Maiden, Sinister
Elite Certified Instructor
Like Steve said, test out to see how your program is working for you. With training, it is very effective to wave the load. Change the variable of your training by doing your sets and reps with more weight, by completing your sets and reps in less time, or increasing the number of sets and reps. In my weekly training, I will have a heavy, medium and light day, usually revolved around the 2-3 main focus exercises I am training to improve (pull-ups, deadlifts, snatches, etc). Notably, you need to be able to recover from your training. If you notice you're not making any gains, it could be an indication you need more recovery.
 

305pelusa

Level 6 Valued Member
In terms of programming, I am wondering if just varying grip, volume, effort (same but different) is enough variability over the course of the training year or if I should look to switch out exercises more often.
Changing sets/reps/effort is good enough for about one macrocycle (about 3 months). A year is a lot with the same exercises. Why would the body adapt to the same movement pattern after so many months of work?

With weight training, you deal with this by adding weight. You can add weight to your exercises. But most calisthenics practitioners will simply select harder variations (Dips > Straight bar Dips > Korean Dips > Ring Dips for instance) as a way to maintain continuous progress. Some of these are more than just a change in grip. Really, they're different exercises with similar focus.

So in the short term (weeks and months), changing effort/volume is important for progress. In the long term (half a year and more) you should be looking to tackle ever more complex movement patterns or add weight.
 

Marc

Level 6 Valued Member
I can only echoe Debbie Hayes! Make sure to recover properly!
Simple rule: if you always finish your training feeling better tgan before and making progress you are doing everything correctly.
If you finish feeling better but not making progress turn up the intensity a little/volume
If you finish feeling worse and not making progress turn down the intensity/volume

Sadly many of us get so neurotic about training that at some point we just keep pushing even though we know exactly that we should not. I am guilty if that myself. So do not do that!
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
Simple rule: if you always finish your training feeling better tgan before and making progress you are doing everything correctly.
If you finish feeling better but not making progress turn up the intensity a little/volume
If you finish feeling worse and not making progress turn down the intensity/volume
Brilliant! Wow, I love that.
 

Kozushi

Level 7 Valued Member
Dips and chinups/pullups put the same kind of stress on the same parts of the shoulder socket it seems. If your shoulders can handle this in the same workout then great, but if not, that's something that has to be considered. I like dips because they take about zero mental energy as there is so little movement involved, at least it feels like this to me, yet they load all your weight onto your arms. Chinups/pullups seem to be a better exercise because there is more range of movement and the grip is strengthened too. The pistol is an amazing maybe best bodyweight lower body exercise, but I pursue this one a bit more weakly than the others because I do a lot of walking and martial art training and my legs are getting a good workout already. As a combat athlete at my current stage of thinking, the one arm pushup is more important than the dips because of how it strengthens up the whole body and not just the arms, and because it is a forward pushing thing which is a movement used a lot in martial arts as opposed to pushing downwards which is not so useful. I'm still not sure what to think exactly though.

The problem with this bodyweight stuff is just that it's hard to get cardio out of it. This is why I can't imagine quitting S&S ever.
 

Sergej

Level 3 Valued Member
@Kozuchi:
Sprints, running, rope climbing, burpees, higher reps of easier exercises, decreasing rest periods, crawling, jump rope, combining all of the above...
or look for Ross Enamaits "Never Gymless"! Pretty good ideas!
 

JeffC

Level 7 Valued Member
Take PTTP, with only two exercises. A Press and a Deadlift has a ton of variability:
- rep protocols
- rest between sets
- intensity
- tempo of the lifts,
- variations of your chosen Press or Deadlift
- implement used
- stance
- Grip type
-grip width

From more obscure lifts to a Standard Flat Bench and Deadlift. If you want you could PR everyday of the year, or at least five days a week. You can select variety to target weaknesses or goals. I don't think of variation just in terms or changing exercises.
 
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