In 2006 Charles Staley and Keats Snideman wrote an article for T-Nation called Pulling Your Chain For Massive Gains! Same But Different, Volume I. This article did a great job of summarizing part of my philosophy of strength training. Here’s an excerpt:
Ever notice how two supposedly inviolate principles of resistance training are basically contradictory?
On the one hand, the Principle of Specificity states that in order to realize a specific adaptation (or response), you need to perform a specific type of training to elicit that response. For example, if you want bigger biceps you’ve gotta do curls. If you want maximal strength, you’ve gotta focus on heavy loads. If you wanna raise your estrogen levels, you’ve gotta watch Oprah every day.
On the other hand, the Principle of Variability predicts that the same type of training, performed week-in and week-out, will lead to habituation, which is just a highbrow term for nervous system boredom. Eventually your body gets so accustomed to the training that you get zero results. Is this phenomenon sounding intimately familiar to any of you?
At Staley Training Systems, we actually think of these two principles as opposite extremes along a single continuum. The most successful trainees are those who manage to find the “sweet spot” in this specificity-variability continuum. The process of finding this sweet spot is the “same but different” concept.
Essentially, it’s all about finding the “best” exercises for your particular objectives, and then finding jillions of different ways to perform these exercises, so that 1) you’re always doing the best movements, but 2) you’re not habituating to your training sessions because every time you do one of your best exercises, you’re doing it in a different manner than last time.
Variations at BCSC aka Bret’s Garage
low box squat
high box squat
safety bar squat
cambered bar squat
manta ray squat
squat against chains
squat against bands
trap bar deadlift
snatch grip deadlift
negative accentuated RDL
deadlift against chains
deadlift against bands
We also do tons of:
Single leg work: Bulgarian squat, high step up, walking lunge, reverse lunge, single leg RDL, single leg hip thrust, single leg back extension, pendulum quadruped hip extension, pendulum donkey kick
Bilateral posterior chain work: Hip thrust, barbell glute bridge, Skorcher hip thrust, good morning, back extension, 45 degree hyper, reverse hyper, pull through, glute ham raise, Russian leg curl, gliding leg curl
Then there are explosive lifts, sled work, plyometrics, ballistics, strongmen drills, EQI’s, etc.
Finally, we have upper body and core work!!!
As you can see, it’s quite advantageous to possess a huge arsenal of exercises. It prevents habituation and stagnation and makes lifting more fun! By rotating lifts yet sticking to the same basic movement patterns, we get really strong at what matters while still keeping safety in mind.