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Other/Mixed Why not vary exercises day to day?

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)

Rdodo

First Post
Beginner question... If it's beneficial to vary volume and intensity day to day/week to week, then why not completely vary exercises? (Like Crossfit WODs, for instance)

i.e.
M - Moving Target Kettlebell Complex (Clean - Press - Squat)
W - Naked Warrior (one arm pushup - pistol)
F - Quick and Dead (Swings - Pushups)
Or any day to day mix of very different exercises.

I've been geeking out on all these different programs lately and the kid in my wants to try them all. So I'm wondering what's the logic behind doing the same exercises weeks at a time as opposed to putting a huge variety into one week.
 

Steve Freides

Staff
Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
why not completely vary exercises? (Like Crossfit WODs, for instance)

Because part of strength and conditioning training - and it's a part we pay a lot of attention to at StrongFirst - is improving one's skill at specific lifts. Our approach is "an inch wide and a mile deep" - learn to really excel at a relatively small number of well-chosen exercises and enjoy the carryover to whatever else you do, not to mention the satisfaction of getting good at something other than just making yourself tired.

Welcome to the StrongFirst forum.

-S-
 

Justin_M

Level 5 Valued Member
Like Crossfit WODs, for instance
CrossFit is largely an energy system training methodology using multiple modalities. One of the cons to CrossFit is not revisiting movements frequently enough to cause adaptations in this movements.

At elite levels, athletes target specific training and use WODs less frequently or as a smaller percentage of training volume.

Many very good programs utilize conjugation to make progress and what you outline above looks just fine if consistently revisiting a few variants. I see your schedule as:
  • Press 3x/wk
  • Squat 2x/wk
  • Hinge 2x/wk
An issue that often arises with buffet style programming is conflicting adaptations. Be sure to target similar adaptations and use multiple methods to achieve it. For example don't try to target pushups to failure one day and 1RM overhead press another as they will likely not keep the same ball moving in the same direction.

Some strength skills simply require a lot of volume and only hitting that specific once per week won't move the needle. I think you may observe that with low volume Naked Warrior.
 

Bauer

Level 7 Valued Member
Beginner question... If it's beneficial to vary volume and intensity day to day/week to week, then why not completely vary exercises? (Like Crossfit WODs, for instance)

i.e.
M - Moving Target Kettlebell Complex (Clean - Press - Squat)
W - Naked Warrior (one arm pushup - pistol)
F - Quick and Dead (Swings - Pushups)
Or any day to day mix of very different exercises.

I've been geeking out on all these different programs lately and the kid in my wants to try them all. So I'm wondering what's the logic behind doing the same exercises weeks at a time as opposed to putting a huge variety into one week.
Varying exercises should not be an excuse to fiddle around. They should be more than "random acts of variety".

However, when pursuing mastery and still following a sensible approach it could be done.

The original Russian Kettlebell Challenge book has great guidelines for this type of varied training.

Here is an example from "Victor"
Here is a more structured approach from @JustinM:

And @Brett Jones uses different variations of Strength Aerobics for variety (saying himself that he has difficulties following pre-planned programming).

That being said: The goal is to keep the goal the goal - which is easier to do with a minimalist approach. For the variety approach to work you should stay with it long enough to let any meaningful adaptations happen.
 

Nate

Level 6 Valued Member
I struggle with minimalism as well, but another argument in favor of running one program at a time is the ability to have novel stimulus after adaptation. S&S gives you the TGU as a Push exercise & weeks of adding volume & heavier weight gives your pushing muscles a progressive stimulus. But you can't infinitely add weight to TGU, so at some point, you transition to ROP & presses become your novel stimulus for the push. Progressive overload cycles again until your body adapts & needs something unique. Q&D gives a chance at pushups & dips. Then maybe a different program or re-visit a previous. But the body adapts & needs novel stimulus to adapt again. While our individual program gets harder by the week, it can't always be heavier or more volume forever.
 

TimothyGander

Level 1 Valued Member
It's helpful to remember training (as opposed to exercise) is conducted in order to induce a change, or adaptation, in the body; and that the capacity for this adaptation is a limited resource. Therefore, you need some variance, but if you don't concentrate on anything specific, there will be not enough "adaptation capacity" available for everything you do and so there will be no progress. Or, put differently, you will end up doing many things poorly instead of doing little, but very well.

Crossfit WODs are the very opposite of the sort of things taught by SF: they're a form of exercise, designed to tire you out, entertain you and give you a feeling of having done something hard without actually advancing to any specific goal.
 

Nate

Level 6 Valued Member
To avoid generalizing, there is random acts of variety crossfit & there is intelligently programmed crossfit that use established strength & conditioning programs & principles. Neither are SF-like, but you'd recognize quality aspects from powerlifting, olympic lifting, calisthenics & endurance training, but usually on a compromised GPP scale, not world class (though the crossover between some does exist in the elite athletes).
 

Kenny Croxdale

Level 6 Valued Member
If it's beneficial to vary volume and intensity day to day/week to week, then why not completely vary exercises?

Varying Exercises

This method is one of the keys to increasing Maximum Strength and Increasing Muscle Mass.

Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength.

Abstract

This study investigated the effects of varying strength exercises and/or loading scheme on muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) and maximum strength after four strength training loading schemes: constant intensity and constant exercise (CICE), constant intensity and varied exercise (CIVE), varied intensity and constant exercise (VICE), varied intensity and varied exercise (VIVE). Forty-nine individuals were allocated into five groups: CICE, CIVE, VICE, VIVE, and control group (C). Experimental groups underwent a twice a week training for 12 weeks. Squat 1RM was assessed at baseline and after the training period. Whole quadriceps muscle and its heads CSA were also obtained pre- and post-training. The whole quadriceps CSA increased significantly (p<0.05) in all of the experimental groups from pre- to post-test in both the right and left legs: CICE: 11.6% and 12.0%; CIVE: 11.6% and 12.2%; VICE: 9.5% e 9.3% and VIVE: 9.9% and 11.6%, respectively. The CIVE and VIVE groups presented hypertrophy in all of the quadriceps muscle heads (p<0.05), while the CICE and VICE groups did not present hypertrophy in the vastus medialis and rectus femoris (RF), and in the RF muscles, respectively (p>0.05). The CIVE group had greater strength increments than the other training groups (Effect size confidence limit of the difference -ESCLdiff CICE: 1.41 - 1.56; VICE: 2.13 - 2.28; VIVE: 0.59 - 0.75). Our findings suggest: a) CIVE is more efficient to produce strength gains for physically active individuals; b) as long as the training intensity reaches an alleged threshold, muscle hypertrophy is similar regardless of the training intensity and exercise variation.

The Downside of Varying Exercises

The downside of Varying Exercises is that Technique is not developed in a movement or lift.

Technique Training

The key to developing Technique in a lift or movement is practice.

It is optimally developed when it is...

1) Practiced first or on a day set aside for it.

2) When performed with load of 85% of 1 Repetition Max for Single Repetition Sets.

3) The number or Single Repetition Sets are determined by Muscle Fatigue.

Once Muscle Fatigue sets in, the Exercise is terminated.

Continuing in a fatigued state reinforce poor technique.

The key to increasing Maximum Strength in a Lift is...

Auxiliary Exercises

Auxiliary Exercise that involve the same muscle group and movement pattern of a lift is the optimal method of increasing Strength in a lift that doesn't affect the Technique of the Lift.

Auxiliary Exercise are constantly changed; rotated in and out of a well written Periodization Training Cycle.

Bench Press Auxiliary Exercise Examples

1) Narrow, Medium or Wide Incline or Decline Bench Press.

2) Dumbbell Incline or Decline Bench Press

3) Dips

4) Swiss Bar Incline, Decline or Flat Bench Press Training. The Angled Grip Handle on the Swiss Bar turn it into a different exercise.

The Westside Powerlifting Protocol

The Westside Powerlifting Protocol developed (circa) 1980 is based on implementing Auxiliary Exercise Rotation as a mean of increasing strength in the Powerlifts.

The foundation of The Westside Protocol is built on...

Olympic Lifter Training

Olympic Lifter training revolves around performing performing Heavy Singles or sometimes Double in an Olympic Lift. Thus, it is primarily Technique Training.

Auxiliary Exercise are used to increase Strength in the Olympic Lifts.

Olympic Lifter do not perform high repetition, non stop Cleans, Jerks or Snatched.

Dr. Tom McLaughlin's Bench Press Powerlifting Research

At essentially the same time The Westside Training Protocol came out, so did McLaughlin's Bio-Mechanical Bench Press research.

Part of McLaughlin's research revolved around Bench Press Technique Training (the same concepts apply to all lifts and movements).

As per McLaughlin's research, the key to increasing strength in the Bench Press was in the use of Auxiliary Exercise; reinforcing The Westside Methods Powerlifting Protocol.

(Like Crossfit WODs,


The Workout of The Day

This approach does not allow Technique be learned and developed in any movement.

One of the cons to CrossFit is not revisiting movements frequently enough to cause adaptations in this movements.


Also, as Justin noted, performing different WOD's does not allow for training adaptation to occur.

CrossFit is largely an energy system training methodology using multiple modalities.

Energy System Training

The foundation of CrossFit that exactly, "An energy system" type of Metabolic Training.

It is essentially a GPP, General Physical Preparedness Training.

CrossFiters are a "Jack of all trades and master of none."

...what's the logic behind doing the same exercises weeks at a time as opposed to putting a huge variety into one week.

Kids and Sports

Kids should be exposed to other sports.

However, to learn and become better at something, they need to spend some time in it.

How well are they going to get in anyone of these sports if your approach is have them doing...

Monday: Football

Tuesday: Basketball

Wednesday: Baseball

Thursday: Swimming

Friday: Gymnastics

Saturday: Bowling

Sunday: Wrestling[/QUOTE]
 
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the hansenator

Level 6 Valued Member
I’m pretty sure Dan John has written that, for conditioning, you want to be as inefficient as possible. When you start getting good at one exercise then switch to another. Maybe this is a good place for variety?

Keeping in mind that this is for “cardio” in the generic sense done for health. It doesn’t count for things you want to improve at, like if you’re a runner the whole point is to get good at running.
 

Ronzi

Level 3 Valued Member
KBWOD by Geoff Neupert provides 52 weeks of training that progresses through all of the KB movements. It starts with basics like one handed swings and loaded carries, and it culminates with complexes including double kB snatches.

If you’re looking for variety this would be worth a look.

I just finished this program and I cannot recommend it enough.
 

Kenny Croxdale

Level 6 Valued Member
you want to be as inefficient as possible. When you start getting good at one exercise then switch to another. Maybe this is a good place for variety?

Good Point

The better you become at a sport or activity, the more Metabolic Efficient you are with it.

It all reverts back to the underlying mechanism for everything in life...

The General Adaptation Syndrome

Metaphorically, you "Adapt or die".

This is true with everything that is living, such as Covid. It continues to mutate in order to survive.

Thus, Chaotic WOD Training increases you inefficiency in a movements that your body has not acclimated to.
 
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Kenny Croxdale

Level 6 Valued Member
Many cross-fitters actually compete in cross-fit. That is actually a pretty specific goal.
It is a general goal rather than specific.

CrossFit Athletes have a general idea of what the competition movements will be but not a specific idea.

With Sports like Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, etc. you know "Specifically" what is required.
 
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Rumsmike

Level 5 Valued Member
KBWOD by Geoff Neupert provides 52 weeks of training that progresses through all of the KB movements. It starts with basics like one handed swings and loaded carries, and it culminates with complexes including double kB snatches.

If you’re looking for variety this would be worth a look.

I just finished this program and I cannot recommend it enough.
I just started this program this week and am super excited for some (sensibly programmed) variety after almost a year of mostly just double C&P ala the Giant and KB Strong slow and steady.

Interested to hear how much progress you made overall and if there are any tweaks you would make if you ran it again. I'm running it as written but thinking of bumping up the grind days in the first few months to 20 minutes.
 

TimothyGander

Level 1 Valued Member
Well I’m one of the biggest ‘anti-crossfitters’ around, but I can’t agree with this statements at all.
Many cross-fitters actually compete in cross-fit. That is actually a pretty specific goal.
From what I've heard, many if not most successful crossfit competitors actually don't use WODs as their main training modality.
 

Daniel Vintila

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
You could vary why not?
As long as you are training for GPP and don't have any goal in mind. Starting something like that might lead towards setting a goal.
GPP training is part of an athlete's training program in the early stages of their season in order to build work capacity, and kids should do a lot of GPP in the early stages of their physical development.
But to become really good as something more specific you need SPP ( sports specific preparedness) which could be any skill required by whatever you want to do.
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Too much variety robs you of movement specific strength. That said, if you had the ability to make subtle changes to basic lifting patterns of push, pull, hinge, squat you would likely get a pretty solid training adaptive response.

Eg. flat bench, next training day you do 15° incline, next day 15° decline, next day back to flat. But...that involves a lot of changes to get what is probably a very small improvement in motor unit recruitment.
 

Coach Louie

Level 1 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
In my understanding, it is better to change exercises every 8-12 weeks of your training cycle. For instance, single arm military press and deadlift for 8 weeks, the next 8 weeks maybe do barbell military press and deficit dead lifts, next 8 weeks double kb military press and back to conventional dl. “Same but different”, this way you are in the waviness of the movements. It prevents plateaus and sheer boredom. StrongFirst is more of a patient person’s protocol. You have to be focused and disciplined to follow the same thing straight through. I basically followed the Rite of Passage for nearly two years before I was able to press the 48kg and took another 6 months to prepare for the SFG snatch test, 100 snatches in five minutes with a 24kg bell. If you have a sport you will want to be able to dedicate as much time as possible to do that, not spend all of your energy moving weights. When I actively competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I wanted my weight training to be less that 45 minutes so I could have energy to train almost daily and I didn’t want to add size or weight so I didn’t go outside of my weight class which is possible when you follow the rule of 10. Seems very minimal but you can have sufficient strength without becoming too big.
 

Stefan Olsson

Level 5 Valued Member
KBWOD by Geoff Neupert provides 52 weeks of training that progresses through all of the KB movements. It starts with basics like one handed swings and loaded carries, and it culminates with complexes including double kB snatches.

If you’re looking for variety this would be worth a look.

I just finished this program and I cannot recommend it enough.
You did it for 52 weeks?
 

Steve W.

Level 7 Valued Member
If it's beneficial to vary volume and intensity day to day/week to week, then why not completely vary exercises? (Like Crossfit WODs, for instance)
Beside the point other posters have made about skill development and specific adaptation requiring a high degree of consistency, there is a false dichotomy between doing the same exercises consistently and a lack of variety.

First, the exercises in those "minimal" programs tend to be "big" exercises that involve the whole body and tend to have a lot of carryover to other activities. So even though the exercises may not vary, they still cover a lot of ground.

Second, just because a program focuses on a small number of exercises doesn't mean you can't do a lot of other things as well. It just means that you are focusing on consistently doing and/or systematically progressing those main exercises, while others may be done in a less structured and intensive way -- for the sake of developing or maintaining a variety of skills and abilities, mobility, injury prevention or rehabilitation, or just fun and entertainment.

Third, there's a big difference between random variety for it's own sake, and purposeful variety. Purposeful variety includes selecting exercises that supplement and complement the main exercises, or that represent "specialized variety," also known as "same but different," which are variations of the main exercises that are cycled in and out of a program to provide novel stimulus, emphasize different aspects of the main exercise, or address individual weaknesses.

For instance, in my current training, I am focusing on the double KB C&P, following Geoff Neupert's The Giant program. That's three sessions a week no matter what. But I also do 1-3 Q&D sessions each week, using snatches or double cleans. And I work in a bunch of other strength drills, including pullups, double KB front squats, rows, hack squats, sissy squats, and band pull aparts, and a large group of low intensity "movement play" exercises, ranging from club swinging, to OS drills. That's not even a complete list of things I do regularly (although certainly not all done every day).

But the point is, I'm focusing on the double C&P. So everything else gets worked in around that, with the frequency, volume, and intensity calibrated around my C&P sessions. At other times, I've focused on A+A snatches or double cleans, or done programs of complexes like Kettlebell Muscle, or focused on deadlifting or trap bar deadlifting. A lot of different phases over the years, but my most productive training has always been focusing on one or a limited number of things and supplementing variety around it.

To paraphrase Denholm Elliott in Trading Places, "Minimalism is a fine thing -- taken in moderation."

[In the movie, Denholm Elliott, disguised as a Catholic priest, pulls out a hip flask and offers a drink to Eddie Murphy, disguised as an exchange student from Cameroon. Eddie Murphy declines, saying, "I do not drink. It is against my religion." To which Denholm Elliott replies, "I always say, religion's a fine thing -- taken in moderation," before taking a swig himself.]
 
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