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How to Rotate Exercises for Continuous Gains


In this video and article I share my thoughts on exercise rotation: When to change exercises and why.

Should you be changing your routine all the time?

First of all I want to address Muscle Confusion.

In short: It’s bullshit.

The idea that you should change exercises often so your muscles don’t adapt to them is completely backwards.

The whole point of training, is adaptation. You want your muscles to become more efficient at doing a certain exercise so you can lift more weight. After all the main driver of muscle growth is progressive overload.

In addition to this, weight training is a skill. If you constantly change exercises you don’t practice the movements enough to learn them properly. This will negatively affect your maximum strength potential and the amount of volume you can do which means you’ll get less muscle growth.

Changing the order of the exercises is also bad because it makes tracking progress very difficult. You will always be strongest on the exercise you perform first. If you were to move the exercise you usually do first at the end of your workout you’d naturally be weaker but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost muscle or strength. It’s because of fatigue.

The muscle confusion idea is wrong on many levels. What you actually want to do is stick to the same effective exercises for long periods of time in order to make strength gains on them.

I believe the best training philosophy you can follow is focusing on gaining strength on a few key exercises. Strength will always lead to muscle growth so getting strong on a few specific movements will naturally develop your physique.

For example if you get to the point where you can shoulder press your bodyweight your shoulders can’t be small. If you can do chin-ups with 80 pounds hanging from the belt, your back can’t be small. It’s the same with any other muscle group.

With that said, there comes a time when a change is needed.

When changing exercises is helpful

If you watched the video you hear me talking about how today I started doing dumbbell shoulder presses instead of standing press. The reason for that is because for the last 5 workouts I couldn’t increase the weights I was lifting. actually I started to lose strength.

And the last year of training has thought me an important lesson: trying to progress a movement that has stalled and you no longer enjoy, almost never works.

I believe most of it is psychological because you fear that exercise and you are no longer confident in your abilities. But there may be a physiological component to this as well.

In the book The Max Muscle Plan, dr. Brad Schoenfeld talks about a maladaptation of the neuromuscular system that appears when you’re doing the same exercises in the same fashion for long periods of time. It’s called monotonous overtraining.

In this situation it’s useful to change the exercise with a very similar variation. No need for a drastic change, just to provide your nervous system and mind with something new.

Here is my recommendation for when you should be changing exercises:

1. When you are plateaued (obviously, no need to change the exercise if it’s going well)
2. When you no longer enjoy the exercise

I think you shouldn’t change the exercise if your situation only fits one of these points. The reason for that is because if you are plateaued but you still enjoy doing a certain exercise and you are excited for it, then you should be able to solve the issue only by changing volume.

Eric Helms shared an awesome flow chart that explains this. Here is what you need to do:

eric helms flow chart

My Guide to Exercise Rotation

If you concluded that you need to change exercises, here is my guide to exercise rotation:

  • Weighted Chin-ups – Weighted Pull-ups / Neutral Grip Weighted Chin-ups / One Arm Chin-ups / Towel Assisted One Arm Chin-ups
  • Barbell Incline Bench Press / Flat Bench Press – DB Presses
    * I don’t feel that the dumbbell bench presses can fully substitute the barbell bench press. When your bench stalls I recommend you do this:
    If you’re doing only one of the bench presses exercise, change the flat with the incline or vice-versa.
    If you’re doing both the incline and flat in the same workout, change the order. Put the exercise that is stalling second and use dumbbells instead of the barbell.
  • Standing Press – Seated DB Shoulder Press / Military Press
  • Back Squats – Front Squats / other variations of barbell back squats
  • Deadlifts – Sumo Deadlifts / RDLs / other deadlift variations

I consider the exercises written in bold to be your main exercises and the other ones to be temporary variations.

The exercises in and of themselves don’t matter much of course. Progress does. You’ll find that if you make progress on the variations you’ll also gain strength on your main exercises.

You can find another great guide to exercise rotation on Kinobody: How to Bust Through a Strength Plateau

The Program I learned all this stuff from

Exercise rotation is a key feature of the Greek God Program. Because the routines include only a few exercises and high intensity, changing the variation of the exercise every 2-3 months is essential.

And it works!

You can see my one year transformation following the GGP here.

If you want to read more success stories, click here.


  1. Matt on November 26, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Hi Radu, firstly thank you for all the great content, been following you on youtube for a while and you’re hands down my favourite channel.
    I’m currently following the 2 day split (A/B) on the Greek God program however, I have hit a plateau on my pushing movements (Shoulder and Incline press).
    I’m 5″9, 65kg (143lbs), approx. 12% body fat and have been at a consistent plateau (46kgx4-OHP, 65×4-incline) for 2 months as of this morning!
    I finally decided to switch from OHP to dumbbell shoulder press and am tempted to do the same with incline since I’m actually slowly getting weaker on both movements but want to maintain some barbell exercises to take advantage of micro loading.

    However, I’m unsure whether this plateau might be down to my nutrition instead. I’m following the lean bulk protocol and am currently eating 2500 a day with IF. I’m not cycling calories as I have previously experienced an eating disorder and would prefer to stay consistent for the psychological benefits (i remember you mentioning this in another video). My waist measurement and weight for the last two months have also stayed the same so I think this plateau could simply be down to not eating enough.
    Basically my question is, should I add in an extra 100 calories and stick with the same movements or do both-add calories and switch exercises?
    It’s got to the stage now where I’m actually a little fearful going into workout A that I’m not going to hit the required reps/weight and naturally am starting to dislike both pressing movements!
    Sorry for the long comment and thanks in advance for any help you may provide!

    • Radu Antoniu on November 28, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Hey Matt!

      Great questions and lead-up.

      Yes I think you should increase calories and change the exercises.

      Another option is to drop the weight on both incline and OHP with 10% and work your way up again. What worked really well for me when I did that was avoiding failure at all costs. I would increase the weight only when you were 90%+ confident that you could keep the reps the same.

      • Matt on December 3, 2015 at 10:20 am

        Thanks Radu, that’s really helpful. I’ll definitely try and be more mindful of stopping a rep short of failure as well as increasing my calories moderately and rotating the exercises as suggested.

        Keep up the great content!

        • Radu Antoniu on December 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm

          Awesome Matt!

  2. Chester on December 20, 2015 at 3:23 am

    Hi bro! What you are doing is very appreciated by many people, me as well. Keep it up 🙂 I always follow you and greg.

    • Radu Antoniu on December 22, 2015 at 12:00 am

      Thank you Chester !

  3. Emil on January 4, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Hi Radu!
    I have been reading a lot of our articles, and i couldn’t have agreed more with you.

    Im just wondering what your PRs were when you first started, and how much they were after about 3 months, 6 months and 12 months.

    Keep up the good work! 🙂

    • Radu Antoniu on January 5, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Hey Emil!

      Hmm I think when I first started I could lift around 40kg on bench press and I could do 2 or 3 chin-ups. I didn’t do any shoulder or leg exercises in the beginning.

      After 6 months I was around 70kg for bench press and I could do 12-13 chin-ups. I still didn’t do shoulders or legs.

      For 12 months I really don’t remember exactly

  4. Borna on January 10, 2016 at 1:43 am

    Hey Radu,

    Recently my weighted close grip chin ups have halted. I’m going to switch to neutral grips during my lean bulk. I have a couple of questions. If I am doing 55lbs on weighted close grips, how much should I expect to do on neutral grips? Also, after my first week of bulking, my weight has gone up 1.5 lbs. Should I lower calories or is it normal to jump that much in the beginning of a bulk?


    • Radu Antoniu on January 17, 2016 at 6:55 pm

      Hey Borna,

      I’ve actually never done neutral grip chins, I did pullups instead. But from what I’ve seen neutral grip chins are actually the easiest, so you should be able to lift just as much weight.

      A jump in weight in the beginning is normal. Keep monitoring your weight, from now on it should go up slowly, as expected.

  5. Dave on January 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    Hey Radu. ..

    How do you feel about rotating from incline bench to a slight incline close grip bench?

    I would do dumbbell incline bench but I don’t have heavy enough dumbbells and I hate working out in gyms…

    • Radu Antoniu on January 28, 2016 at 10:16 pm

      Personally I’d do Flat Bench instead for a while. In my opinion it’s a better substitute than close grip bench.

      You can do your warm-up sets on incline in order to maintain good form for when you go back.

  6. Dave on April 12, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    I’m so sick and tired of benching the same exact amount of weight on my incline bench. I am going to get over this number or I’m going to die trying lol.

    What I plan on doing is not changing the exercise but increasing the volume. In this article you mention Eric Helms flow chart explaining to increase volume 10-15%. So I was doing 5, 6, 8 reps before for a total of 19 reps. Is it as simple as deloading and working in a higher rep range (7, 8, 10)? Try to microload in this rep range and increase strength in this rep range? Or should I stay in the 5, 6, 8 rep range but just add one more set so it will be 5, 6, 8, 8? Do I still microload? How do I progress with the added volume?

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:57 pm

      Hey Dave!

      Check out the last question on this page. It explains everything.

  7. Ruben on April 22, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    In re: to plateauing. How many workouts stalled out should it take before we say, alright we’re plateaued. [ I mean obviously after 5 workouts where you’re stalled out it’s time for a change. ] But sometimes I get the feeling other factors may come into play, such as lack of sleep/rest.

    • Radu Antoniu on April 26, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Good question Ruben.
      I think 5 workouts is enough, no matter what is causing the plateau.

  8. Ruben on May 9, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Hey Radu,

    Thanks for the response. I definitely have plateaued and am either going to alternate or reduce the volume. I read in your article and Greg’s of a 15% reduction for higher rep ranges. How does that work for weighted chin/pull ups? Do I add bw and the weight then multiply that by .85? (I weigh 147 at 5’10 and steadily progressed to 60 lb weighted chin ups) 147 + 60 = 207 * .85 = 176 lbs – 147 = 29 lb weighted chin ups. Intuitively that doesn’t seem to make sense to me because I think I can hit 30 lb weighted chin ups for over 10 reps, which I think is too high of a rep range since that would lead to well over 12 reps by my third set. So am I supposed to reduce 60 lbs by 15% so 60 – 9 lbs = 51 or 50 lbs and do that for 6-7 reps, then reduce accordingly using (bw + weight) * .90 for the second set which would be 30 lbs, etc then do this for a couple weeks. I am going to take an extra couple days off just to see if this should be enough since I am still no where near my genetic peak.

    Look forward to hearing from you.


  9. vincent on May 26, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    how bout the you do one of the leg exercises, deadlift or squat, can you alternate those 2???

  10. Jamie on December 29, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Hey Radu,

    If you were to change from weighted chin-ups to weighted pull ups, what would you do with the weight?

    I doubt I could do as much with weighted pull ups as I can with weighted chins…

    Also same for the Bradford press in place of over head press, as you are doing double the work and using a lot more muscle for stabilisation…How to recalculate your starting weight for that???


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