Using different and novel exercises can be both very motivating and enjoyable, improving the overall training experience. Not only that, but it can also help us build consistency over time, enabling us to progress our physical performance in the squat movement pattern. Let’s look at 6 different squat variations you can add to your next workout.
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Adaptive resistance is the theory behind the exercise rotation that is used when designing training programmes. Adaptive resistance is when we use an exercises, in this case a squat variation, too create a desired adaptation and eventually we become resistant to this exercise and begin to adapt less to the training volume as we are accustomed to the exercise. This makes changing the exercises we use on a regular basis is important to our long term adaptation.
This is for me the most important part of variety and using different variation, performing the same exercises on repeat can become very boring and take all the pleasure away from the training experience. Even elite athletes who train for powerlifting and weightlifting will have cycles of training post competition when they are not putting emphasis on their competition lifts. Changing things up, experimenting with new exercises, all while remaining consistent in the gym and your movement out put is a really positive part of a long and sustainable health practice.
Finally, constantly performing the same movements and increasing both load and volume on them overtime can increase the risk of injury. That is why pulling back, using a slightly different movement, with a slightly different range of motion can be a great idea for mitigating injury.
I personally like to write training cycles that last between 3-6 weeks long. This will allow me to see some progress on the exercises that I have been using, but never feel that my training is becoming mundane or boring. I think this could easily be prolonged to 12 weeks, this is just based on personal preference and what works for you.
Differentiating between primary and secondary exercises here is very important, for a primary exercise like a Back Squat, I might stick with for 6-9 months running periodised cycles. This is a much longer time than a secondary exercises like a B-Stance Squat, which I would typically change every 3-6 weeks to a difference squatting variation. This allows long term improvement of the main lifts we are trying to improve, whilst also allowing us too try fun and novel exercises every 3-6 weeks.
As described above, changing the secondary exercises from cycle to cycle is a great way to use a lot of different exercises to target the squatting movement pattern. This constant cycling of exercises allows the body to continuously put pressure on a movement pattern without risking injury or stagnation, it is a very effective technique for long term success and training enjoyment.
Another way to successfully add variety into your training, using a variety of different squat variations is to have multiple squat variations in your training week, you could have two different bi-lateral squats and one uni-lateral squats for a total of 12-16 sets, this would provide ample volume to see a great deal of progress, while keeping training both fun and novel. This is just an example, you can try multiple different types of squat within the week and see what works for you, just make sure you are staying within your recoverable volume.
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This resource was written by Sean Klein. Sean Richard Klein has thousands of hours of coaching experience and a BSc in Sports Science with Management from Loughborough University. He owns a gym in Bayonne France, CrossFit Essor, which runs group classes and a Personal training studio.