Variety in a workout can definitely be a good thing, but there are some fundamental exercises you should always include and improve upon.
If you've been working out for a while, you probably know there are a few exercises out there which offer the greatest return on investment when we do them regularly compared to other exercises. Whether we call them full body exercises, compound exercises, or functional training, these movements are generally made up of some form of squats, presses, or pulls. These types of exercises have been utilized for decades to help people get leaner, stronger, and more fit, and are still used today to train top athletes around the world.
The problem is—they're hard! Ask any trainer if they have a client who gets excited about lunges, for example. Odds are, aside from a few crazy weekend warriors, not a single exercise participant seeks these exercises out of enjoyment. Instead, many fitness enthusiasts seek variety in their training programs via newfangled exercises as a means to shake up a stale workout routine and to try and get around those awful lunges.
While including a diverse set of exercises in your regular rotation is beneficial, it's very important to maintain these top movements and strive to improve your performance in them. There's a very good reason every trainer on the planet forces his or her clients to do lunges; they may not be fun, but they work. In fact, any of the following exercises can be considered a fundamental movement that should be included in almost everyone's training schedule:
- Presses: With free weights, body weight, machines, or cables. Performed horizontally, vertically, or at varying angles.
- Pulls: With body weight, machines, or free weights in a vertical (pull-ups), horizontal (rows), or total body movement (deadlifts).
- All varieties of squats and lunges.
Training these large, multi-joint movements on a regular basis will help strengthen the body, build muscle, and burn fat, which virtually everyone wants!
Variety without Changing the Movement
Rather than trying to outsmart your body by jumping into the latest workout fad, I suggest keeping all these vital movements in your program and getting variety by changing how you train them. For example, is the only press exercise you ever perform the bench press? Why not try suspension trainer pushups? Warrior pose getting too easy? Try weighted walking lunges. Do you always stick to three sets of ten repetitions on every exercise? Why not spend the next two weeks training four sets of five reps, and the following two weeks training two sets of 25 reps?
As you can see, there are an unlimited number of ways to vary your program while still getting in these time-tested movements. Now, rather than skipping lunges in favor of something newer and, well, easier, let's get creative and get back to work!