Researchers from Brazil have found you should build muscle faster (about 2.47% in 9 weeks) if you swap in exercises you feel like doing when you work out (Rauch et al. 2017).
In that study, 17 strong males were randomly assigned to 2 groups:
- One group had a “fixed exercise selection” (they followed the plan exactly as prescribed)
- The other group had an “auto-regulatory exercise selection” (they had the same exercises overall, but could choose whichever one they felt like doing that day)
- Both groups trained 3 times a week for 9 weeks
- After 9 week, the guys who chose their exercises on a daily basis gained 2.47% lean mass; whereas guys in the fixed-order group didn’t gain any (their gains weren’t statistically significant, to be precise)
- Similar results were found for the bench press (1RM +6.48% in the auto-regulatory group vs. no significant gains in the fixed-order group)
- Both groups improved their squat 1RM in a similar fashion
Overall, these results suggest you can be flexible in your exercise selection and still make good (or better) gains.
A Word Of Caution When You Swap In Exercises
I’d recommend you stick to a few exercises, and come back to those time and time again. Don’t take this as a license to aim for “muscle confusion” and do new exercises you’ve never tried every time you work out. You muscles need some repetition to get bigger and stronger.
The best approach is to add new exercises in rotation, as I’ve explained in another article:
So, be flexible, but be smart about it.
On a personal note, to me, that’s mind-blowing stuff, because I’ve always been a little OCD about following my workout plans to a T. Looks like the guys who were winging it had something going for them, after all. Lucky me, now I can cut myself some slack. Phew!
How To Swap In Exercises In Dr. Muscle
We’re building this app to help you build muscle faster, so we got you covered. It’s easy to swap in an exercise you feel like doing when you work out with Dr. Muscle.
While in a workout, just tap “…” next to an exercise, and choose “swap”. You can swap exercises on the fly if the gym is crowded, or depending on what equipement you have available, or what you feel like doing that day. Just by doing that, you should build muscle faster (about 2.47% in 9 weeks).
Rauch JT, Ugrinowitsch C, Barakat CI, Alvarez MR, Brummert DL, Aube DW, Barsuhn AS, Hayes D, Tricoli V, De Souza EO. Auto-regulated exercise selection training regimen produces small increases in lean body mass and maximal strength adaptations in strength-trained individuals. J Strength Cond Res. 2017 Oct 7. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002272.