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I just started lifting weights. Am I better off sticking with the same routine for each workout or mixing things up from week to week? — Gina Atkins, Clay, AL
“To sculpt muscle while increasing strength, there is a benefit to having variety in your routine,” says Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., director of the Human Performance Lab at Lehman College. Rotating in different exercises with each workout lets you hit more target muscle fibers and better develop the entire muscle group. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found exercisers who did a variety of lower-body exercises had better quad development and greater strength gains than those who focused on doing only squats.
But you can mix things up too much, warns Schoenfeld, especially in the early stages of a workout. “Repeating exercises over time helps ingrain motor patterns, so your form will improve,” he says. Better form equals better results.
Do you have a diet, fitness, or training question you want a Hers expert to answer? E-mail us at AskTheEd@muscleandfitnesshers.com and we may answer it in a future issue of the magazine.