Doing the same old exercises time and time again in the gym can lead to a plateau…not to mention it gets really boring. Modifying exercises every 3-4 weeks keeps your workouts fresh and ensures that you’re constantly seeing progress. However, too much change can be a bad thing. Constantly changing exercises every workout can prevent your body from ever adapting to a stimulus and halt any progress. The key is finding the right balance to maximize your program.
Ideally, the modification or alternative exercise will still work the same type of motion or movement pattern but in a slightly different manner. This will ensure that your body still gains strength in a certain move, but the exercise is different enough to spur huge gains.
Each week, look for a new exercise alternative to spice up your favorites, prevent boredom, and mix up your routine to avoid plateaus. This week, we’ll switch out the traditional squat.
The Old: Back Squat
The New: Split Squat
How To Do It: Holding a moderately heavy dumbbell in each hand, place your right foot back on a bench or step about knee height. With your left foot out front (standing in a lunge position), bend your left knee and drop into a lunge without letting it go out over your left foot. Drive through your heel and stand back up. Repeat 6-8 times on your left before switching to your right leg.
The Difference: The split squat offers several benefits that you normally don’t get from a basic barbell back squat. First, the split squat presents a tremendous balance challenge. This will help recruit your glutes more for stabilization and develop balance and coordination that will carry over to sports outside of the gym. Also, the split squat is loaded by holding dumbbells in your hands rather than a barbell compressing directly on your back. This can give your back a break from heavy loads for a few weeks while still getting in a good leg workout.