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  1. #1
    Registered User GruntKC's Avatar
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    Alternating exercises every week. Good/Bad/Neither?

    My current routine has me training for 8 weeks using certain exercises, then taking a deload week, and when I come back most of my exercises change. For example, I'll do Flat bench for 8 weeks, take a deload week, then do Incline bench for another 8 weeks. Then it just keeps alternating like this every 8 weeks.

    The problem I've been having recently is that once I switch to a different exercise, I tend to be weaker with that exercise than I was the last time I used it. According to most things I've read online over the years, people tend to be STRONGER after a deload week, yet it's the opposite for me. My diet doesn't change whatsoever and I consume the same amount of calories during the deload week.
    The only thing I can think of is that it is due to neural adaptations being lost in a specific exercise, having not used it for 8 weeks. It usually takes me 2-3 weeks to regain the strength I lost in a specific exercise once I start using it again, which again I assume is due to neural adaptations.

    To prevent this from keep happening, what would you guys think about alternating exercises every week instead of every 8 weeks, so that the neural adaptations don't dissipate? For example, Flat Bench for 1 week, then Incline Bench for 1 week, and then back to Flat Bench, with this cycle ongoing week after week... Basically alternating the two exercises week after week instead of spending 8 weeks with one, then dropping it and spending 8 weeks with another. Surely this would allow my strength in a specific exercise to stay more or less consistent as I don't have such a huge length of time between dropping it and using it again?


    TLDR: Stick with an exercise for 8 weeks, then switch to another for 8 weeks or... Stick with an exercise for 1 week, then switch to another for 1 week, and keep alternating like this?
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  2. #2
    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    You're weaker because your CNS needs to remember what you're doing for a few sessions.
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    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    I wouldn’t swap exercises after set amount of time, I’d swap out an exercise after I hit a wall I can’t get over
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    Registered User GruntKC's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    You're weaker because your CNS needs to remember what you're doing for a few sessions.
    So is there nothing to worry about then and it's normal? Just wanted to check as it's really been playing on my mind recently.

    Thanks.
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  5. #5
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    This is an open question as far as I'm concerned. In the meantime I think you should run a particular set of exercises (or at least keep the main compounds the same) for sustained period of time.

    'directed adpation' vs. 'variation to overcome repeated bouts effects'

    I think there are downsides to switching too often as well as too infrequently. Where the 'optimal' point might be as up for debate. Your 8 week mesocycle might just be close to that theoretical optimum so I wouldn't mess with it...

    Tommy may well be on to something in that your efforts are initially directed at improving your motor pathways and the stimulus to hypertrophy might not be as strong at this time (because you are moving less weight than you are capable of). On the other hand, if you are detrained, perhaps you are more sensitive to a stimulus... so we aren't really sure. The mesocycle thing is a construct which might just find a reasonable compromise between the two.
    Last edited by SuffolkPunch; 09-07-2021 at 12:42 AM.
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    Registered User jk202's Avatar
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    That sounds like an excellent way to just spin your wheels. I think swapping exercises every 8 weeks is way too often.
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    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Can you do multiple variations within the week, instead of swapping entirely after 8 weeks? I recently had good results doing 4 bench variations within 1 week.
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    If the exercise is efficient for your goal and doesn't have a high injury risk, i'd keep it. Maybe change something about how you do the exercise, like rep range, adding weight, rep speed, supersetting, pyramiding, dropsetting, etc. Personal preference but I like to keep the exercises cause I get better with them the more I practice the movement, I don't want to lose the neuroadaptation by starting progression over with something else.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I wouldn’t swap exercises after set amount of time, I’d swap out an exercise after I hit a wall I can’t get over
    Agreed. When I could flat bench, I got a lot of mileage out of kicking over to incline when my bench stalled hard.
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    Originally Posted by ECGordyn View Post
    Can you do multiple variations within the week, instead of swapping entirely after 8 weeks? I recently had good results doing 4 bench variations within 1 week.
    More to this point, since the individual exercise selection won't necessarily make a major difference within the same movement pattern, I'm not entirely sure what OP means by "switching exercises."

    You still obviously need to train every movement pattern, so even if you substitute dumbbells for a barbell on the bench, say, it's still fundamentally a press at the same basic angle.
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