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Variability

The variability principle is a fundamental concept in strength and conditioning that states that to continue making progress in strength and fitness, one must continually vary the types of exercises and training stimuli used. This principle is closely related to the concept of progressive overload, which is the gradual increase of stress placed on the body during exercise in order to continue making adaptations and improvements.


The body is incredibly adaptable and will quickly adjust to any given stimulus. When a person first starts an exercise program, they will see rapid improvements as their body adapts to the new demands being placed on it. However, as the body becomes more accustomed to a given exercise or training stimulus, progress will begin to slow or plateau. This is where the variability principle comes into play, as it states that in order to continue making progress, one must continually change the exercises and training stimuli used.


Progressive overload is an important component of the variability principle. It involves gradually increasing the stress placed on the body during exercise in order to continue making adaptations and improvements. The only problem is that progressive overload has its limits and eventually the amount of weight required to induce the desired amount of stress becomes too great for the body to withstand.


This is where the variability principle comes into play. By making changes to your training you can continue to make gains while dramatically reducing the risk of overtraining or injury. These changes can include varying your rep schemes, the order in which lifts are performed, rest times between sets, style of training, and replacing primary lifts which similar movements.


Examples of this are woven throughout The Lift League training blocks.


The variability principle and progressive overload are important because they allow the body to continue making progress and adapting to new demands. They also help to prevent overuse injuries and burnout by providing a varied training stimulus. Additionally, incorporating the variability principle and progressive overload can help to prevent boredom and improve overall adherence to an exercise program.


The best training program is one that allows for sufficient time to progress and a carefully prescribed amount of variability and The Lift League does just that.



 

Charles I. Staley, B.Sc., MSS, “Various studies, as well as in-the-trenches observations, show that varying aspects of the training load (character, volume, intensity, density, etc.) tend to allow the client to make more progress before accommodation sets in."

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