I read multiple times that the body gets used to certain exercises and will adapt to them, so the training effect for doing the same exercise minimizes. And although two quite similar exercises will often train the same muscles, they use them in different ways.

At the moment I have basically two groups of exercises that I switch weekly. I do the first groups of exercises in one week and the next groups of exercises in the other week. There are some exercises I do in both weeks.

I wonder if it is a good approach to reduce adaption. Should I switch in another cycle; every exercise day, only every two weeks or even less?

  • 1
    I think I will strip the question down to its core. seems to be a case of TMI.
    – Baarn
    Jan 6 '13 at 18:56

I am sorry but after reading your post I couldn't understand what your current goals are. For example do you want to gain muscle mass, or muscle strength, or maybe perhaps endurance?

I am not familiar with the hundred push ups program and the dips program, that might be the reason why I don't get it.

However in my training I usually target a specific gymnastics' strength move on the rings(let's say). Which means that I will dedicate all of my training to it which sometimes might be several months. Excluding the deloading phase I would train the same muscle groups(which are being involved in that move) for 3 to 4 times per week. Doing bench dips with bent knees or with your heels on the floor is pretty much the same exercise, slightly varied(I would consider the one with the heels on the floor more advanced and harder). So instead of doing bench dips on both workout days, instead, try something that is still going to target your triceps and shoulders but differently.

It is not impossible to keep training the same muscle groups and continuing making progress(in any direction you desire) if you vary the exercises well. The more the exercises differ from each other the easier your progress.

If you tell me your current goals and which muscle groups you wish to target we can build a program together. Also do you do weights or do you depend on body weight exercises only?

edit Regarding your question about the intervals between two similar exercises. The interval could be no longer than the appropriate amount of time your body will need to recover fully after your last workout. In my case that would be around a day.

  • I added another paragraph to my question to make it more clear. I think my goals shouldn't matter, as I see possible applications for all of my exercises (be it with dumbbells or bodyweight or maybe even for cardio).
    – Baarn
    Jan 6 '13 at 16:18
  • I gotcha! The body will adapt to a certain exercise if you never vary it or your workout routines. If you do chin-ups today and rest for a day then do weighted chin-ups on your next workout, then that's going to be a different experience for the body. If you rest for another day after and on your next workout add resistance bands to challenge yourself with the chin-ups, it's still going to be something different for your body. This is how you can use one exercise but vary it in many different ways.
    – Arthlete
    Jan 6 '13 at 16:42

While it is a good idea to work a particular muscle or muscle group with a variety of exercises, you need to keep a couple of things in mind:

  • Volume: If you are doing multiple exercises that target the same muscle, effectively you are doing more sets. Therefore, you'll either need to decrease the weight, or decrease reps/sets of the individual exercises.
  • Rest: The issue with doing the 100 Push-ups and 100 Dips program on alternate days is you will never let your muscles rest to recover and gain strength.


  • If you are only doing the 100 Push-ups/150 Dips programs to monitor other improvements, I don't think it really matters whether you alternate weeks, or not, as long as you are rested before.
  • I like the idea of using a basic functional exercise such as a push-up or pull-up as a benchmark. I will periodically see how many consecutive push-ups/pull-ups I can do before a workout, I track this number as I think it is a better indicator of my overall strength than the number of lbs I can do on a specific exercise. Overtime I may change from barbell bench presses to dumbbell presses to using a machine, but a push-up is a push-up so it gives me a basis for comparison.
  • I think you misread the question. I alternate weekly, not daily. One week push ups, one week dips. My questions wasn't specifically about the programs, I only use them as a benchmark for my improvement.
    – Baarn
    Jan 6 '13 at 18:56
  • I put in a huge edit to my question to make the core of it more clearly. You might want to revise your answer.
    – Baarn
    Jan 6 '13 at 19:07
  • I saw that in the second paragraph that you are alternating weeks. In the first paragraph, it looked like you were doing both. I'll edit the Recommendations portion of my answer to fit your question better.
    – BillN
    Jan 6 '13 at 19:08
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    I tend to give too much preface when asking questions, sorry about that and thanks for your effort :)
    – Baarn
    Jan 6 '13 at 19:10

It seems that you've reduced the size and information content of the question and are basically looking for a higher-level answer.

To cut to the chase, there are different ways to incorporating variety:

[1] One day heavy weights with low reps and longer rest periods between sets; the next day lighter weights with higher reps and less rest in between

[2] Stripping: start with a higher weight and after some reps reduce the weight and go on like that for a number of sets

[3] I go you go: with a partner, you do some reps, they do some reps, then you do some reps, without ever putting the weights on the ground

[4] Pyramid system: incrementing the weights with every set upto a point

[5] Working the rack: just do the same exercise with all the weights on the rack one after the other

[6] Some days work with dumbbells, some day work with barbells, some days with bodyweight, some days with exercise bands

[7] Try HIIT: high intensity interval training which is timed and much more intense

[8] Try sprinting on a treadmill for intervals

Good luck!

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