Strength Training Variables

When you strength train a muscle, the training breaks down the muscles to some degree which then causes the body to rebuild that tissue stronger.

The body adapts to a particular exercise quickly. In order to provide the necessary stimulus to elicit continued change, we need to throw a variety of demands at the muscles.

To do that, we can manipulate any of the variables listed below. Read through the list and consider how you might adjust your strength program.


Switch the order of exercises - Do the same exercises you typically do, but put them in a different order.

Change the number of exercises - Add on one or two more exercises to your routine.

Change the actual exercises you do - Naturally different exercises will use the muscles differently.

Change the amount of reps – If you typically do 12 reps, you can switch to 15 reps, or even 10 or 20.

Change the amount of sets – Add in another set of the same exercise.

Change the speed of the movement – If you always do the movements fairly quickly, try going slower and taking several seconds to complete each repetition.

Change the weight used - Use a lighter or heavier weight than normal.

Change the amount of time you rest between exercises - Try going from one exercise to the next with less rest between.


All these variables are interwoven, and changing one will often affect another.  You can change many of the variables every couple of months, or you can change one variable every couple of weeks.

In the end, the idea is that you provide some variety to the muscle so that it has to adapt in various ways.


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