I’ve mentioned before my semi-masochistic tendency to frequent the Bodybuilding.com forums. Here’s something you see all the time – people asking for critiques of their workout routine. Here’s a direct cut-and-paste of one poster’s routine:
Bench press BB heavy
Incline Bench BB
DB shoulder press heavy
Standing BB Rows
Narrow grip BB bench press
Dead lift Heavy
Bent over DB rows Heavy
lat pull down
Now aside from the terrible formatting and the odd groupings of exercises, there’s another more sinister problem.
He does this same routine every week.
If you’re trying to get your body to grow – and let’s face, we all are – giving it the same stimulus week in and week out is not the way to do it. Our bodies are huge fans of homeostasis, a stable environment where everything is in balance and life is good. The body does not want to add muscle, because it’s hard work. You have to kick its ass a bit to make it happen.
Also, the body is very adaptable. It learns quickly what you’re trying to do it and responds by getting stronger, adding the necessary muscle, or whatever it needs to do to re-establish homeostasis. And then it’s happy again. If you don’t continually change the stimulus, you plateau.
So having a routine like above where you can spell out day by day what every week looks like is evidence of a pattern, and one that your body will adapt to quicker than you might think. At a minimum, this guy should write these exercises on piece of paper, put them in a hat, and draw out 5-6 at random and make that his daily workout. At least the mixing of bodyparts and muscle groups will change things up somewhat.
More ideally, new exercises would be introduced, taken away, and switched up regularly. This is where exercise logging is a great idea – you can look back over your last few leg workouts and realize “hey, I haven’t done a hack squat in a month!” And then you’ll see exactly what weight and reps you did last time, because you sure as hell won’t remember it after a month.
And in my Figure Bootcamp, no 2 workouts from week to week are going to be the same. Your body has no choice but to keep playing catch-up trying to adapt the new exercises, combinations, rep schemes, supersets, and modalities that are constantly being thrown at it.
For someone looking to enter a bodybuilding or figure competition, variety is the key. Very few people will say ‘no’ to extra muscle, so introduce some variety into your routine. In fact, let’s stop using the word ‘routine’ altogether.