Variety in training changes your BRAIN


This post is to elaborate on Dylan's video on the benefits of variety in your exercise routine:

I'm pretty positive most of the users on this forum are well versed in the virtues of alternating their resistance exercises. However, I'd bet at least some of us aren't aware that the brain actually changes when we master different exercises.

Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer or a professional bodybuilder, nor do I recommend carrying out any new learnt exercises without the proper guidance of a professional. This editorial simply stands to elaborate on how elite bodybuilders restructure their CNS (Central Nervous System) when alternating their routines.

Muscle memory is a term bodybuilders are intimately familiar with. Performing an exercise in repetition multiple times within a routine causes the muscles to somehow “remember” their motion. This is one of the tools a bodybuilder employs regularly. Learning and practicing alternate routines actually powerboosts your CNS and can facilitate a higher bodybuiding potential. This is how.

How does muscle memory work?
We'd like to think we have 5 senses in our body. Neurologically speaking this isn't true, we have more than five, but here I'll actually talk about a very distinct one. The sense of proprioception.
Proprioception is a sense that allows you to resolve the location of your joints in space, it actually comes from specialized receptors (a.k.a. Muscle spindle receptors) located within the joints in the human body, more precisely – tendon attachment points within the joint space[SUB](1)[/SUB].

How is proprioception a sense?
Close your eyes and bring your finger to your nose. Of course you can do it, but how? You don't see, touch, smell, taste or hear the location your your finger or nose. That is the sense of proprioception. Your joints are constantly mapping the location of your body in space. This is how you can actually walk in total darkness without falling[SUB](2)[/SUB]. Now let's throw the CNS into the mix.

Proprioception and the Cerebellum
The Cerebellum is a small structure in the lower (or caudal) part of the brain, that amongst other functions, carries out the capability to systematically replicate motions done in a repetitive fashion in a quicker and more precise way, with each repetition[SUB](3)[/SUB].
What does it mean? Any complex motion such as playing the guitar, delivering a jumpshot or washing dishes – requires collaboration between the CNS and your musculoskeletal system. That means that if you want to make a jumpshot, your senses deliver the distance to the hoop, your CNS processes it, and then delivers the proper signal to elicit muscle contraction to perform a jumpshot.
The cerebellum says “well, we've done this so many times, I'll just store it over here for quick access” - that way performing movements repetitively allows formation of muscle memory[SUB](4)[/SUB]. The cerebellum is actually accessed quicker than the higher functions of our brain, that is why it's more effective. Such quickly accessible information can be stored potentially for life. Ever heard of “it's like riding a bicycle”? That's the cerebellum.

Basically, what bodybuilders classically call “muscle memory” is a long standing romance between the proprioceptive receptors throughout the tendons in the body, the cerebellum and the musculoskeletal system[SUB](5)[/SUB]. The more muscles you regularly work = more tendon receptors activated = more romance. Amazing.

Yes, that means that if you systematically learn proper form of a deadlift over time, you'd be able to do it with your eyes closed, 30 seconds after being woken up. Now the bodybuilding part.

Changing your routine changes your bio-mechanical functional anatomy
Biomechanical = muscle contractions yielding movements along a mechanical axis (joints);
Functional anatomy = parts of our anatomy that dynamically respond to bio-mechanical changes (muscle, ligaments, even blood vessels)
So what does it mean? When you change you routine in a systematic fashion (e.g. Changing the angle of a bench press), more "highways" are created between your proprioception receptors, cerebellum, and musculoskeletal system; You create different patterns of stress in different locations of ligament and tendon insertions (recall that is where those specialized receptors are). Those signals result in increased connective tissue synthesis in the tendons' microenvironment in different angels with respect to the muscle fascicles, as well as regional hypertrophy[SUB](6)(7)[/SUB], resulting in the long lasting dynamic ability of that joint to carry more tension in that particular range and direction[SUB](8)[/SUB]. That allows the muscle more flexibility to react to active and passive stress in different directions, and favours slight reshaping of the muscle belly[SUB](7)(8)[/SUB] to accommodate stress in that direction.

Simply put – each highway created by repetitive “muscle memory” imprint – results in a microphysical long standing change in the joint attachment points with respect to muscle contraction dynamics. You essentially become more versatile the more highways you form, you create life long education imprinted in your brain, with each movement you perform systematically. Even if you hadn't done it in years - it's still there.

How does this help me, as a bodybuilder?
Avoiding injuries: We know that the mechanism underlying injury to muscle always and forever involves a joint, this is because the joint is the recipient of the muscular tension. One of the factors preventing joint injury revolves around small receptors detecting stress, causing quick and rapid changes in the muscle tension. Those receptors also work via these same highways. The more highways you form – the more likely those stress receptors are to elicit small micro contractions that stabilize the joint while producing stress near the joint's biomechanical limit, preventing injury.

Faster rehabilitation: It's a well known method in physiotherapy that incorporates forming new highways to accelerate repair. It seems, that increasing activation of these specialized tendon receptors within the joints increase the regenerative capacities within the joint space, and the joint-muscle connection. More highways = faster joint healing potential[SUB](9)[/SUB].

Essentially - training your brain turns you into a better bodybuilder.

Thank you for reading.

References follow in the immediate post.


(1) Textbook of Medical Physiology/ Guyton & Hall; Unit IX; General principles of medical physiology; (2) Functional neuroanatomy of proprioception/ Johnsons EO, Babis GC; Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances; 2008; PMID 18851800; (3) Review of Clinical and Functional Neuroscience, Chapter 7A: Somatosensory Systems/ Swenson RS ; (4) Predictive Modeling by the Cerebellum Improves Proprioception/ M.P.Boisgontier, S.P. Swinnen; Frontiers in human neuroscience; 2014; (5) Feldenkrais Method Balance Classes Improves Balance in Older Adults/ Connors, Karol A, Galea, Mary P., Said, Catherine M. (2011); (6) Heterogeneity of rectus femoris muscle architectural adaptations after two different 14-week resistance training programmes/ Matt TT., Nascimento FX.; Clinical Physiology Functional Imaging (2014) PMID: 24750784 ; (7) Inhomogeneous architectural changes of the quadriceps femoris induced by resistance training/ Ema R., Wakahara T; European Journal of Applied Physiology (2013); PMID: 23949789; (8) Anatomy and Physiology of Proprioception and Neuromuscular Control/ S.M. Lephart, C.B. Swanik (1998); Neuromuscular Research Laboratory – University of Pittsburg; (9) Science, Movement and Health, Vol. XVI, ISSUE 1, 2016 January 2016, 16 (1): 69-73


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Great piece of info here bro! It's extremely important to overcome adaptation to always create a new stimulus for progression and growth

(PM me for a price list for Biotech Labs and 10% discount)


Active member
Fucking outstanding read as I am a long standing advocate of muscle memory and the mind/muscle connection. Great read and nice to know that my beliefs are more than personal opinion. I honestly think some people can go years without ever coming to this realization. Shame, but hey everyone can be a genius.


Active member
Fucking outstanding read as I am a long standing advocate of muscle memory and the mind/muscle connection. Great read and nice to know that my beliefs are more than personal opinion. I honestly think some people can go years without ever coming to this realization. Shame, but hey everyone can be a genius.

I agree, I think some never realize it.


Founding Member
Super Moderator
you literally NEVER disappoint...

i want everyone to take note of this... blue shine is one of the most intelligent people i have had the pleasure conversing with... truly insightful and a damn good person on top of it... i can't say enough about him... we ALL truly appreciate all of these detailed and thorough articles and studies you provide... all i ask is that you keep them coming! LOL it is truly appreciated