Training Variety
Not Always the Answer
by James Bullock

Training Variety

It seems that there are far too many articles which suggest people should add variety to their training. The primary reason listed is to stave off boredom, which shows me that the author is lacking in some essential training knowledge and common sense. It is not wise to throw new things into your training routine simply because you are getting bored or you hit a plateau in your training.

As far as boredom goes, I can understand it being a factor for those who are not training for athletics of some kind. When it comes to an athlete being bored, I simply can’t work up anything resembling sympathy. It’s called discipline: get some!!! The only athletes that ever come close to seeing a glimpse of greatness make it a habit to do those things regularly which others are not willing to do.

The cold, hard truth is that most athletes never become “advanced” enough to need a constant change in their programming. I find that the opposite is true: athletes are usually changing things far too much from the very start of their training.

A good athletic training program has planned purposeful changes within it. No one can expect to see results in any capacity if they are doing the EXACT same protocols every week. Conversely, results cannot be expected if EVERYTHING is being changed on a weekly basis.

One small change utilized correctly can further your progress: It can be as simple as changing the repetition range (reps per set) or adding sets in a protocol. Simple changes are all beginner and intermediate athletes need for a long time.

Hitting a plateau is not a signal of needing a complete overhaul of your training program. When progress halts, there is always an underlying reason. Finding the cause takes some deep introspection at times.

Some questions to consider before adding training variety:

  • How have my eating habits been?
  • How much sleep do I get on average?
  • What is my overall stress level?
  • What are my priorities at the moment?
  • Do I have a nagging injury?
  • Am I recovering from an injury?
  • How many training hours do I log each week?
  • What is my motivation level?

I know more questions could be asked, but that list is a very good start. Notice that none of them has anything to do with manipulation of a training program. It is easy to assume that it must be the training programs’ fault for the lack of progress, but I find that is rarely the case.

While training variety can indeed be a great tool to further your progress, it can also be the cause of your lack of progress. With all the training information available, it is easy to be tempted to add training variety before it is necessary.

Those who train consistently and intelligently using restraint and patience will continue to make progress.

Strength & Honor

James Bullock


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About the Author

James Bullock is the head coach for Irondom Performance Systems and Combative Sciences. He's written programs for athletes and non-athletes alike, including numerous world record holders in various sports. Combative Sciences was found in 1999 and is the culmination of decades of martial arts training. 

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