These days, 4-week shuffle program seems to be a dogma. Most personal trainers focus on changing training programs every 4 weeks. It is a result of short sighted interpretation of sports science fact that after 4 weeks body gets used to the same training and stops adapting, so changing the program after fourth week is necessary. However, this interpretation is very wrong if you want to build a strong, muscular physique. Personal trainers who have no serious background in strength sports (personal trainer qualification is not enough) simply try to impress you by constantly changing exercises due to professional incompetence applying fundamental compound movements.
The short sighted justification of 4 week shuffle program
The first week, your performance is pretty lousy and uncomfortable, as you are learning new movements and exercises. The second week, you get more familiar with technique of the movements and working weights go up. The third week, your nervous system gets more efficient and muscle fibre synchronization improves. Barbell weights make a fairly big jump due to occurred neural adaption. The fourth week, neural adaptions are done and the training progress slows down.
At the end of fourth week, personal trainers, who are not familiar with the essence of weight training periodization, are forced to change the program with new exercises. The same 4 week process starts again from scratch. Time pass by but neither you are able to lift serious weights nor actually gain any significant muscle mass. Your personal trainer blames genetics, points out to the use of steroids in bodybuilding as the only reason for bodybuilders’ size and that’s that. You get disappointed and stop training “knowing” that it is impossible for you to get physique transformation.
This is how weight training really works
In natural bodybuilding, neural adaptations for a particular training program completes at the end of fourth week. From fifth week onwards, the real deal starts. To build muscle mass, you will have to exhaust rapid neural adaptations so that when you keep on putting stress on body, it will be forced to build muscle tissue as the only reserve left to carry on the further progress. To gain muscle mass you will need to stick to the fundamental compound movements and just keep training hard.
NPA British vice champion Rolandas Malinauskas sticks with the same movements and keystone lifts. Keeping variations of squats, dead lifts, presses, rows etc. at all times, months after months, is the key for gaining real muscle mass.
Remember, repeating the same exercise in same manner all year round also will not help, as your body will get accustomed and desensitized to it. The golden middle is to use smart variations of compound movements, periodize training intensity and change loading schemes (reps, sets, rest etc.).
Don’t replace irreplaceable, keep up your progress lifting heavy weights. Contact RolandasPT4U in London if you need help to overcome your plateau on compound exercises.