You do NOT need to know hundreds of exercises to build a strong, jacked physique.

Truth is, you can hit all the targets with fewer than 20 exercises, and 80% of the ground is covered by just 10 exercises.

Ten exercises? For the whole body? Sheesh, I can rattle off 10 lifts for just the tibialis anterior.

Okay, so if only a few exercises are “required” to train the whole body, then is learning a variety of movements a waste of time?

It absolutely depends.

A beginner should focus almost exclusively on variations of pressing, rowing, squatting, and pulling, with maybe a few isolation lifts for the shoulders, arms, core (and calves) throw in for good measure.

Stick with those lifts and practice them like skills you’ll never quite 100% master. But still strive to progress as fast as competency (and confidence) will allow.

So when does exercise variety factor in?

  • when you stop progressing in strength (reps or load — and this assumes you’re on a decent program);
  • when you hit a growth plateau;
  • when you develop overuse injuries due to too many hard miles + too many laps around the sun;
  • when you get really fricken bored (within some reasonable limits);
  • when you are forced to train with limited equipment;
  • when your weaknesses MAY require subtle changes in force angles, modifying the strength curve and positions of flexion;
  • when you love to make a subtle shift in technique and suddenly everything feels exactly “how it’s supposed to.”

The following slides are just variations of the triceps pressdown and lying triceps extension.

Pretty much lifts you learn on Day 1 — except because this is my Day 100,000 or so, I’m changing things up:

Using a different pressdown setup for a more novel experience / better stretch:

Photo of Bryan using a slightly different pressdown setup for pressdowns

Using Fat Gripz for a stronger contraction and “feel good” wrist and elbow factor:

photo of Bryan using Fat Gripz

Using a Swiss Bar and pullover-style extension technique to avoid elbow issues:

Photo of Bryan using a Swiss bar

Adding chains (not done 100% correctly in this demo) to match the extensor strength curve:

Photo of Bryan using chains, attached to the bar

Sounds fancy, but it’s really not.

It’s just fun, smart work that accommodates my age, aches, needs, and station in life. And of course ADHD.

The only thing left is the most important thing: effort.

Without that, no amount of fancy exercise programming will accomplish a damn thing.