Variety is the Spice of Life (Part 2 – The Un-Routines)

In part one of this article, we talked about the need for change in our fitness routines in order to spark new progress as well as keep motivation and enthusiasm at a high level. Let’s create some simple plans that will allow us to randomize our workouts a bit. I’ll tell you some of the things I have done and perhaps you can incorporate some or all of these ideas into your own approach.

1. Create 4 to six different strength routines and then alternate them regularly. We’ll call them A – B – C – D-etc.


On week one you will do Routine A on Monday, B on Wednesday and C on Friday. On week two do Routine D on Monday, A on Wednesday and B on Friday. During the following weeks just keep rotating the different routines in and out of your schedule. Never do the same routine two times in a row.

2. “Run the numbers”. This is a really simple way to inject much needed variety into your strength routine.

Let’s say you have about 10-12 exercises in each of you’re A-B-C-D routines. Instead of always doing them in a specific order say 1 through 12, or always starting with Squats, each time you go to the gym you start with the next number in the order. So the first time you do Routine A you go from exercise 1 to exercise 12. The next time you do Routine A you go from exercise 2 to exercise 1. This way you are always starting your workout with an emphasis on a different movement. This coupled with the fact that you are already rotating through 4 separate routines will keep your body guessing for quite some time.

3. Try varying your rep ranges and or rep cadence.


If you always train the classic 5 x 5 (five sets of five reps), keep things spicy with some different rep ranges. Week one do sets of 4-6 reps. Week two do sets of 6-10 reps. Week three do sets of 8-15 reps. You can also vary your rep cadence, (the actual speed that you raise and lower the bar) I recommend 3-5 seconds to raise the weight and 3-5 seconds to lower it. If you are used to always moving the bar as fast as possible this decreased speed can really up your intensity and provide your muscles with a new and different challenge.

4. Cycle your intensity

At Hybrid Fitness we believe in training intensely. We also recognize that to avoid over training and reap the rewards of long term progress one must remain keenly aware of when it is time to push hard and when it is time to back off a bit. Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of over training so you can cycle effectively and make uninterrupted progress from month to month.

5. Change the order and or intensity or your “Cardio”.

If you always do Cardio training before strength training, then try doing them in the opposite order for a nice change of pace. Also as stated in part one of this article, you’ll get far more from your cardio training if you up the intensity instead of adding to the duration. So remember to challenge yourself.

6. Change the days you train.

Too many of us are stuck in a rut that is run by the calendar. If you have some flexibility, add it to your workout routine. If you always train on Monday-Wednesday and Friday and are feeling bit burnt out, train once every three days instead. If you are feeling extra fresh and want to step it up try three days on, one day off. Do a different routine or class each day that you go to the gym but just keep to this three on, one off, approach. Example:

Train on Monday doing a long cardio session. On Tuesday do some heavy weights and some sprints. On Wednesday try a Total body conditioning class. Take Thursday off and on Friday start the whole cycle over again.

The ultimate randomization tool.

As you can see at Hybrid Fitness variety is a key component to how we help our athletes stay fresh and continue to make progress for long periods of time. If you are looking for a simple tool to help you add fun and variety into your training routine check out our “Card P.T.” program. To find out more go here.

Well, there you have it. Hopefully by now you not only recognize the value of adding some variety to your fitness plan, but have gained some simple ideas about how to make changes that will not only see you making new and continued improvements but will add some much needed spice to an otherwise dull routine. As always if you have questions or feel you need more help with this or any other subject you find here please feel free to contact me at

*Example Strength Routines A-B-C-D

For each workout below, do one set per exercise. Vary reps as needed, for desired results. Rest 30-90 seconds between sets.

Routine A

1. Leg Curl

2. Leg Extension

3. Squat

4. Calf Raise

5. Overhead Press

6. Pullover

7. Dip

8. Bent over row

9. Triceps extension

10. Biceps Curl

11. Bent kneed sit-up

12. 4-way neck

13. Shrug

Routine B

1. Bent Over Row

2. Negative Pullover } Giant set

3. Pulldown

4. Incline Press

5. Bent armed Fly } Giant set

6. Push-up

7. Negative Chin-up

8. Negative Dip

9. Shrug

10. 4-way neck

11. Leg Curl

12. Leg Extension

13. Hip adduction

Routine C

1. Leg extension } Pre-exhaust

2. Leg Press

3. Deadlift

4. Leg curl } Giant set

5. Stiff-Legged Deadlift

6. Calf Raise } compound set

7. Seated Calf raise

8. Hip Abduction } Compound set

9. Hip Adduction

10. Lateral raise

11. Pullover

12. Bench Press

13. Biceps Curl

Routine D

1. 1-1/2 rep Dip

2. Triceps Extension } Giant set

3. Negative Dip

4. 1-1/2 rep Chin

5. Biceps curl } Giant set

6. Negative Chin

7. Wrist curl

8. Reverse Wrist curl

9. Leg Press

10. Leg extension

11. Leg Curl

12. Lateral raise

13. Hanging Knee raise



2 Responses

  1. Great to read other fitness blogs. I agree with variety and keeping motivated is the key. I am not a big fan of leg extensions, but I will keep coming back to your blog to see what you are up to. If you ever want to discuss things that would be great.

  2. Hi Diane,

    Thanks for taking the time to voice your views. Yes, leg extensions are certainly not required for success. They are just one of many choices one might make. The workouts listed are (as always) just examples of 100’s one might create.


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