How To Deploy Forced Variance| BeneFIT Medical Apparel

By Justin Culver, Co-Founder BeneFIT Medical Apparel

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Forced Variance

Have you ever been on track following a workout routine, nailing it perfectly for weeks only to have your favorite gym equipment captured by someone else?

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Here you are, you’re on track to hit all your perfectly planned workouts and meals for the week. And then you walk into the gym and see this sloppy, window-licking newbie camping out on your peck deck machine while playing on their phone. Or maybe it’s your specific squat rack, or that one row machine with the perfect angle. Or maybe they’ve hijacked your favorite cardio machine, or even the exact dumbbell poundage and adjustable bench you need. We’ve all experienced this.

While all my Type A’s and OCDers (if that’s even a word) out there likely want to strangle these newbs and reclaim their rightful piece of the gym, there’s really no practical reason to get all territorial about it and freak out.  So, don’t stress out or hover around the newbie like some gym creeper or meathead bully. There’s no need for you to make their gym experience unpleasant just because you have your quirks or an ego issue.

Besides, if this newbie is out of shape, don’t they need the gym more than you do? So instead of interrupting them with the ole, “hey, how many more sets do you have?” bit, you could instead find a different piece of equipment or a machine and do something very similar to your originally intended exercise modality.

Like the manipulation of training principles such as volume, intensity, frequency etc., you can also manipulate the principle of variation, aka variance, aka variability. Hence the term, “Forced Variance”. Or another way to say it, is the variation of planned exercise modalities forced upon you by the random window-lickers of life. God bless them. You see, these window-lickers (like skillful trainers) will always find a way to force variability into your routine. Best part of all is that you don’t even have to pay them.

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For instance, if you’ve chosen to hit chest on a Monday (which is basically international chest day for dudes) somewhere between 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM, you’re going to have a lot of competition for the bench-pressing equipment. But what if you’re program calls for starting with bench presses but there is no such equipment available? Instead of wasting time waiting for a bench to come open, why not grab some dumbbells and hit some dumbbell presses and some flyes?

Or, let’s say you plan on using dumbbells for presses, and you need the 75s for 4 sets of 8. But if those 75s are taken, just grab the 65s that are free and hit 4 sets of 10 or 12 reps instead. Here’s another bonus to forced variation, strong evidence exists that variability in training helps prevent overuse injuries. Just Google, “Overuse and Repetitive Motion Injuries” if you don’t believe me. I didn’t make this stuff up, it’s science.

But what if you’re trying to hit some deep squats but someone has stolen your favorite squat rack and is doing some weird back, shoulder and bicep super complex thingy in the middle of it? Well, instead of waiting around or getting frustrated, why not just hit some leg presses or even do some loaded lunges?

Again, while helping to prevent overuse injuries, this forced variation in your workout routine will also add elements of randomness that will help you break through training plateaus and boredom. So, go get you some Forced Variance today, and thank that newbie for forcing a little variability in your life.


There are a few exceptions where Forced Variance is not ideal. For example, if you’re a professional athlete and training for competition, any variation to your programming may violate the laws of specificity. Forced Variance (in this case) may even activate the interference effect, thus degrading the athlete’s ability to function at the highest level in their specific sport.

In short, if you’re training for competition, find a program or coach to train you accordingly. Moreover, if you’re training for competition, perhaps training in a commercial gym packed full of newbies is not the best environment for you anyway. But if you’re just training for general fitness or health, then the concept of Forced Variance can be you friend and ally.

So, are you ready to up your diet and fitness game? If so we have the perfect book for you!

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