Training Variation - Exercise Variability

Joe Kenn | Vice President of Performance Education



“Variety is the spice of life.” I am not sure who deserves credit for this quote, but it is especially true when it comes to strength training and the body adapting to a stimulus over time. Programs that maintain a similar approach week to week, month to month, and year to year, often lead to athlete stagnation and a halt in improvement and development. Those that evolve with the athlete over a period of time usually see the greater overall results.




Variety in a strength program can come from sets and reps packages, exercise choice and order, daily session rotations, and yearly developmental sequences to name a few. One way that I have found success in keeping the athlete engaged and making things challenging is the manipulation of movement patterns for a single exercise. This is highly useful for independent limb work regardless of duration, short term (4 weeks) or long term (8-16 weeks).


A standard 4-week variation model is the subject of this month’s blog. The exercise choice is the Lat Pulldown with independent limb capability.



Week 1 – Standard Bilateral Pulldown

The prescription for week one is 4x10 with a standard tempo and the movement being done with both arms being active through each repetition. Technique is always critiqued for efficiency and if at any point of the set technical failure occurs before the goal rep is completed, the set is terminated.



Week 2 – High Low Alternate Pulldown

The prescription for week two is the same 4x10 with a standard tempo. The difference in week 2 is the movement is now done with an alternate arm action. As one arm is completing the repetition, the off arm is fully extended and the goal is to stabilize the arm in a controlled manner. This limb is not at rest and is not relaxed. The athlete is concentrating on stabilizing the muscles around the joint for protection. The set is completed when each arm has completed 10 reps. In total this is a 20-rep set. Technique is always critiqued for efficiency and if at any point of the set technical failure occurs before the goal rep is completed, the set is terminated.



Week 3 – Low High Alternate Pulldown

The prescription for week three is the same 4x10 with a standard tempo. Week 2 and 3 are similar as both weeks are done with an alternate arm action. As one arm is completing the repetition, the off arm is now at the midpoint of contraction and being held in a quasi-isometric hold in a controlled manner. This limb is not at rest and is not relaxed. The athlete is concentrating on contracting the muscles around the joint for protection. The set is completed when each arm has completed 10 reps. In total this is a 20-rep set. Technique is always critiqued for efficiency and if at any point of the set technical failure occurs before the goal rep is completed, the set is terminated.



Week 4 – Single Arm Pulldown



The prescription for week four is the same 4x10 with a standard tempo. The difference in week 4 is the movement is now done in 2 separates sets to complete. One arm performs the entire set of 10, before the second arm begins. The off arm is unloaded during the set. Without the counter balance of load in the opposite arm, the focus is on core stability and keeping the body in a solid neutral position without body lean or compensation. The set is completed when each arm has completed 10 reps. In this variation, the 20 total reps are done in 2 unique sets. Technique is always critiqued for efficiency and if at any point of the set technical failure occurs before the goal rep is completed, the set is terminated.


This modality can be adjusted based on overall length of the program. These variations can be done for multiple weeks before switching. In the case of a cycle being less than 4 weeks, my recommendations would be;

  • 3-week cycle – delete the bilateral movement

  • 2-week cycle – A – Bilateral Week 1/Single Arm Week 2 B – High Low Week 1/ Low High Week 2

This is just one movement example. Use your knowledge to develop similar plans when developing athletic based strength training programs. My favorite cycle with this format is with Dumbbell/Kettlebell Bench or Incline Presses. Creativity is one key to developing a sound program for the athletes and team.


WATCH ALL FOUR MOVEMENTS


SUBSCRIBE

Keep up on the latest and greatest:

Contact us directly:

2020 Prairie Lane

Eau Claire, WI 54703

Tel: 715-552-4454

Toll Free: 844-678-7447

Info@mydynamicfitness.com

 Join us on social media!

  • Dynamic Fitness & Strength Facebook
  • Dynamic Fitness & Strength Instagram
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White YouTube Icon

© DYNAMIC FITNESS & STRENGTH

Dynamic-Logo-Black.png