Altering your grip for variation

One thing that a lot of people find difficult with their training is working out how to balance variety and consistency, both of which are very important. One the one hand, you want to have a specific routine that is designed for you and that you can improve on during each session. On the other, you don’t want to find yourself plateauing and becoming bored with what you are doing. So how are you supposed to mix up your workouts without completely changing what you are doing?

Well clearly there are lots of ways that you can achieve that. But the way that I suggest you ensure that you include some variety is by making small subtle changes, not necessarily having a completely new workout every week. A brilliant example of this is grip. Not only are there a number of ways to adjust your grip when you are working out, but it also helps you train a wider range of muscles without having to incorporate too many different exercises.

A great popular example of this is with pull-ups. Adjusting where on the bar your hands go has a massive impact on which muscles you go on to develop. The two standard variations are wide-grip and narrow-grip, with the first having your hands way outside of shoulder width and the latter ensuring the opposite. What you will find is width is a commonly used tool for variation across the board. If it isn’t with your pull-ups then it can be done just as easily with push-ups.

Switching between overhand and underhand grips is another great way to add that little bit of variation. Obviously you have to make sure this is safe and that depends on which exercise you were doing at the time. Using this technique is perfect for something like tricep pushdowns for example.

The more frequently you try out different gripping techniques, the more normal it will feel. And what you will notice is that you will actually feel the difference even though you are completing the same exercise. This is where developing an ability to actually work out what your body is saying is essential. Once you can interpret exactly which areas of your body are being impacted upon by different exercises you can then start to tailor your workouts specifically for yourself.

Any alterations shouldn’t be implemented just for the sake of it and that is what I mean about trying to find that balance between consistency and variety. If you are happy with the work you are doing and, more importantly, the results you are seeing then you don’t need to feel bad about not changing your routine. And similarly if you aren’t seeing the results you wanted then that doesn’t mean that abandoning what you are doing now is the best idea.

Our results depend on far more factors than just the work we do in the gym and that is why it is about making healthy lifestyle choices that brings success, not just one particular workout.

Ollie Lawrence