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Stagnant Workouts: The Importance of Variations in Your Workout


Sticking to a routine in your fitness regimens is common, but variations in your workout hold equal importance. A recent PLOS One study explored exercise variations’ impact on strength, muscle thickness, and motivation in experienced resistance-trained men.

Social media discussions on this topic reveal divided opinions — half emphasize variation’s importance, while others favor progressive overload for muscle growth.

In this article, we will discuss the topic of variations in your workout and its importance in crushing stagnant workouts and a lack of progression with your physique.

Disclaimer: It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

What is Progressive Overload?

Progressive overload is a fundamental principle in fitness that involves gradually increasing the stress placed on the body during exercise to stimulate ongoing improvements. This can be achieved by manipulating factors such as intensity, duration, or frequency of workouts.

While proponents of progressive overload rightfully highlight its role in promoting muscle growth and strength, it is essential to recognize that exercise variation is intricately linked to this principle.

Introducing diverse exercises not only prevents monotony but also ensures that various muscle groups are consistently challenged. This variation contributes to a more holistic application of progressive overload, as different movements engage different muscles, promoting overall fitness development.

Incorporating exercise variation becomes a complementary strategy, enhancing the effectiveness of progressive overload and fostering a well-rounded approach to fitness.

The SAID Principle

This is a principle that is often overlooked when talking about progressive overload and variations. The SAID principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand) is fundamental in sports science. It highlights the body’s inclination to adapt to stress, enhancing its ability to withstand similar stress in the future.

The SAID principle is applied through various mechanisms, emphasizing the body’s general tendency to improve in response to specific demands. Examples include bone thickening in response to mechanical stress, as in the heel striking the ground or a tennis player’s dominant arm. Some similarly targeted strengthening occurs in tendons, ligaments, and muscles through activities like resistance training.

The SAID principle extends to sophisticated adaptations, such as learning new motor skills inducing structural brain changes. Exposing oneself to specific stress and ensuring both the right amount and specificity of training are crucial considerations to optimize performance.

Importance of Bringing Some Variation to Your Workout

Below are some reasons why you should consider variations in your workout routine.


When engaging in a repetitive activity, the body adapts and becomes highly efficient, resulting in a reduced calorie burn even with consistent effort. To counter this, introducing new challenges to the body becomes necessary.

Engaging in activities unfamiliar to the body compels it to work harder, leading to an increased calorie expenditure during workouts. It’s crucial to emphasize that maintaining a sensible diet complements regular exercise, leading to an overall approach to weight loss.


The integration of various exercises proves effective in addressing distinct muscle groups and engaging them through different modalities. Take squats, for example, with a primary focus on the glutes, quads, and hamstrings. Conversely, lunges not only emphasize these muscle groups but also involve the calves and gluteus medius, demanding a better level of coordination.

It’s important to do different exercises to work all your muscles and avoid imbalances. This not only makes your workout more complete but also helps improve muscle growth and can make you stronger in everyday activities.


When someone repeats the same movements over and over, they might end up getting injured (trust me, I know this firsthand) — it’s known as a repetitive strain injury. This kind of injury often occurs with activities involving lots of repetitive motions, like running, playing certain sports, or using the same swimming stroke.

Trying out different activities becomes important because it allows the muscles, joints, and ligaments that are overused to rest and recover before being used again. Even if someone does get injured, doing a different activity that doesn’t strain the same part of the body can help them stay in shape and heal simultaneously.


Research indicates that introducing exercise variations is more conducive to strength gains compared to consistently repeating the same exercise. Recognizing that mechanical tension serves as the primary stimulus for growth and it’s crucial to acknowledge that a stronger muscle can generate more force and endure increased tension, ultimately leading to greater long-term growth.

This connection is substantiated by studies revealing a significant correlation between muscle strength and size.


When many days go by and you start to feel the boredom creeping in while hitting the gym, it shows a signal for a change.

Discovering a new workout may involve some experimentation, but it is important to try new workouts, training methods, exercises, etc., until you find one that works for you. Then, change your routine by including many types of activities each week. This approach can improve results and enhance your overall enjoyment in the gym while training.

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