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NEW: Does Varying Resistance Exercises for the Same Muscle Group Promote Greater Strength Gains?

Costa, Bruna Daniella de Vasconcelos; Kassiano, Witalo; Nunes, João Pedro; Kunevaliki, Gabriel; Castro-E-Souza, Pâmela; Sugihara Junior, Paulo; Fernandes, Rodrigo R.; Cyrino, Edilson Serpeloni; Fortes, Leonardo de Sousa

Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: November 2022 - Volume 36 - Issue 11 - p 3032-3039, doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000004042


To compare strength adaptations between a resistance training (RT) routine that maintained the exercises fixed (N-VAR) and another that varied the exercises for the same muscle group during the weekly sessions (VAR).


Twenty-three young men were randomly allocated to N-VAR (n = 11) and VAR (n = 12) conditions. RT was performed 3 times a week for 9 weeks and consisted of a whole-body routine @ 3 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions to muscle fatigue.

Maximum dynamic strength was assessed using the 1-repetition maximum test (1-RM). Isometric strength was assessed using an isokinetic dynamometer before and after training.


Both groups increased the 1-RM values in all exercises without significant differences between them.

In contrast, a greater increase in isometric knee extension strength was in the N-VAR group (+12%) compared with VAR (+7%).

There was no significant increase in both groups for isometric knee flexion strength.

The findings indicate that maintaining or varying the exercises for the same muscle group promotes similar adaptations in the maximum dynamic strength.

In contrast, for the isometric strength in knee extension, maintaining the fixed exercises seems to be more interesting.


So much for “muscle confusion” as it has been recommended in the past. As long as one trains hard and trains with progression, the same exercise can be used to build strength. Changing the exercise prescription in terms of using different exercises in different sessions and rotating them (i.e., for the lower body implementing a squat in session 1 (S-1), dead lift in S-2, leg press in S-3, and single-leg DB squat or leg press in S-4) is nice to offer variety to the program so hard training does not become monotonous.

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