I have wasted far too much too much time in my life being unknowingly stuck in a routine with weightlifting. When not paying attention, or going through a rough time mentally, it is easy to monotonously go through the motions of the exercise for a few weeks a time. Not varying the weight, reps, or exercises at all. Then once you decide to go through your log you realize you have been doing the same thing nearly every day. Which doesn’t work for progress. I was really frustrated that I realized I made such an idiotic mistake when I flipped through my pages.
This is one reason I went from doing a push/pull/legs routine to a full-body one. When having a day doing a specific set body parts, there are more exercises that must be repeat. For example, when I did a back and biceps day, I did about eight exercises for my back and four for biceps. Doing that twice a week for several months, it is easy to get stuck doing the same isolation exercises over and over again. When doing a full-body routine, I am forced to switch it up often. I focus on doing a compound lift of 5×5 for my back, then two isolation exercises to push to utter failure. I can push myself to exhaustion, while being able to have more variation the next day with a different set of exercises. This is why I also love throwing some amazing Crossfit at the end of my workout. It’s a few exercises taxing my muscular and cardiovascular limits in throw functional movements.
Progressive overload is the key to continuous growth, and it doesn’t include a routine.
The famous fitness researcher, with his own PhD, Bret Contreras, wrote the “Twelve Rules of Progressive Overload.” Progressive overload is a general term for increasing the intensity of a workout to continue having muscle growth. Progressive overload can include increasing the range of motion for an exercise, using better form, doing more reps (volume), increasing the weight, more sets, and extending pushing past technical failure. I sum this up as being a badass each and every single time in the gym.
When I go to the gym, I go to make those weights my b*tch. I demand my body to pick up that barbell for a new deadlift personal record. When my deltoids tighten from an overhead press, I tune it out so I can force a few more reps. I expect the best from myself, so I perform. I just make sure not to be stupid by going too far and ending up with an injury.
Doing progressive overload every single work is testing yourself. When setting up a routine, it is important to think of how progressive overload can be done. It does not involve settling into a routine like I once did.