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Variety is.....

Variety is the spice of life.

In the training environment it is a topic with some controversey.

On the one hand there's the both the "constantly varied" CrossFit and the "muscle confusion" whatever they are.

And on the other hand, there's the strict plan types.

And if we're honest, non are really wrong, assuming they are operating in the right context.

There are several lenses we can look at whether variety is helpful or harmful.

In terms of general fitness, or GPP to the cool kids, I see absolutely no problem with variance.

If the goal of GPP is to build a broad base of fitness, then a level of variance is pretty much a necessity. In fact, this was the origin of CrossFit back in the day. Where it loses traction is when we start looking at the competitive athletes or the specialists. As we specialise, our training and exercise selection needs to specialise.

I've trained a great many athletes across several sports, and to a person, the highest performers come from the least specialised backgrounds. In the research we can see how the athgletes that came up from a multi sport (crosstraining) background suffer fewer injuries on average than those who came up from early specialisation.

The broader the base, the greater the movement vocabulary, the wider the range of stimuli the nervous system can cope with , the more robust the body becomes.

At WG-Fit we specialise in that varied GPP. But even so, we work from a formula.

We use the basic global movement patterns that top strength coach Dan John talks about in his work. That is to say:

Upper Body Push Upper Body Pull Hip Hinge Knee Bend Everything else

So long as each of these patterns is covered through the week, we get a well rounded training effect.

Let's take the Upper Body Push as an example/

It can be a military press with one or two kettlebells. It can be floor presses with one or two kettlebells It can be one of umpteen variations on a push up It can be high rep, low rep It can explosive, it can be slow or even isometric

A Knee bend could be: Back Squat, Front Squat, Overhead Squat, Goblet Squat, Jump Squat, Skater Squat, Pistol Squat, Heels elevated squat, Belt Squat, Lunge, Reverse Lunge, Lateral Lunge and so on and so forth

All our GPP workouts tick all the categories Dan John suggests. Simply doing one pattern over an over may get you strong in that pattern, but potentially makes you fragile outside of that pattern.

And while muscles can't be confused, that's a silly idea. We can stimulate the CNS in a number of ways, hopefully leaving the fewest holes in our armour. Armour that is strong. mobile and enduring and just ripe to put into a more specialised plan, say 12 weeks or so, to get ready for an specific event.

It's good to go through periods of specialisation, but it's best to have the broadest base to jump from.


Dave Hedges

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