A Few Words on Exercise Variety

I spent a little bit of time last week uploading videos from this past summer’s training. I’m not caught up by any means, but I received a comment on one of them (gotta love the You Tube critics) that got me thinking about a few things that I think are worth mentioning.

The video was of supinated grip inverted rows. In a normal inverted row using suspension straps, you’d normally start with an overhand grip and supinate them during each rep, moving from internal to external rotation. The ability to do this is actually why I like doing inverted rows with the straps so much, because it’s more shoulder friendly than using a bar and supinating actually allows you to get a better contraction in your back.

If you hold that supinated hand position throughout the entire rep and don’t let yourself pronate at the bottom, it will emphasize the biceps a little more. The straps will naturally want to rotate, so you much use your biceps to resist that rotation. I don’t do these very often, but I received a question about a good arm exercise so I decided to show this.

Anyway, the comment I got was “when are you gonna show something different?” I can only assume this guy was referring to the fact that I do a ton of inverted rows.

I’m a little torn as to how to answer. On the one hand, he’s right; I do a ton of inverted rows. On the other hand, I was a bit taken off guard because I have showed so many different variations. This brings up a few points I want to touch on.

1. Change is important, but not too much change. I think it’s important to switch exercises from time to time, but not all the time. I know this doesn’t really give you anything definitive to go by, but that’s sort of the nature of the beast. I would rather see people focus on a fewer number of exercises and get really really good at them as opposed to being mediocre at a whole bunch of things. Most people (save those with an advanced training age) would be better served picking 6-8 key exercises (and I mean total exercises, not for one bodypart) and just hammering away and getting strong at them. Using myself as an example, for the past 18 months, my back training has been comprised entirely of chin-ups and inverted rows.

2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Change for the sake of change doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If what you’re doing is working, stick with it. Right now, I’m getting good results from chin-ups and inverted rows. Who knows, maybe I’ll come to a point where they are no longer getting the job done, at which point I’ll switch them out. Until then, there’s no need.

3. Some change is necessary. I know this may seem like a contradiction, but hear me out. What I’m trying to say here is that small changes can go a long way. While I’ve done chin-ups and inverted rows almost ad nauseum, I’m always making minor adjustments with my grip, tempo, rep ranges, etc. It may not seem like much of a change (hence why the You Tube commenter assumes I’m always doing the exact same thing), but those slightly modifications change the entire dynamics of the movement, which is important to stave off overuse injuries and boredom. This is more important the longer you’ve been training and the more advanced you are, so if you’re new to lifting, you can ignore this point for now.

I’ll cut it short here, but these are all important lessons will go a long way if you take them to heart. I’ve got to run now though and go do some more inverted rows.

If you missed yesterday’s Good Reads, be sure to check that out too.

Also, like I mentioned, I’ve been uploading a bunch of new videos, so be sure to subscribe to my You Tube channel by clicking the nifty little tab over on the right of this page, underneath the newsletter (as you can probably tell, I’m digging the new site).