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Friday Five: Ways to Create Lifting Variations

1. Grip/Stance Width

Altering the grip or stance width of a movement changes two of its key elements: The range

of motion, and the input of the different muscle groups involved. For example, if you switch from a regular Bench Press to a Close Grip Bench Press, you have added a small distance to the range of motion, and placed greater emphasis on the tricep. You can play with stances and grips with many exercises and completely change the stimulus. These variations are particularly effective because of their similarity to the main movement. It creates a ton of overlap and overload in similar patterns your body is used to.

2. Angle

Another way to create variation is to change the angle you are performing an exercise. Using the Bench Press example again, adding an incline or decline to the movement drastically changes how the pecs are stimulated and can drive gains.

3. Range of Motion

Adjusting the range of motion of an exercise can also change the relationship of the muscles involved with the movement. By adding a deficit or shortening the movement, you can add or take pounds off the bar, and overcome previous sticking points.

4. Tempo

Intentionally moving the bar at different speeds can create an added layer to the tension on the muscle groups involved in any lift. This can mean slowing the bar down, intentionally speeding it up, or pausing reps.

5. Rest Interval

Shortening or lengthening your rest times can completely change the adaptation you are pushing for. At some level, reducing rest times increases cardiovascular benefits, and challenges your glycolytic systems to a greater degree. Longer rest times may allow you to move more weight, thus also changing your output.

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