Tip: Challenge Yourself With a "Changeup"

Baseball pitchers use a changeup to shock and confuse the batter. Apply the strategy to your training and make the basics even more brutal. Here's how.

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Pattern Interruption

Ever heard of the "changeup" pitch in baseball? It's meant to confuse the batter through pattern interruption. The changeup is just a different way of throwing a pitch. The pitcher uses the same mechanics for a fastball, but alters the tempo. And it's this speed that shocks a batter, which is exactly what the pitcher is after.

So why not throw yourself a changeup in the gym? Instead of boring yourself with the same 5 sets of 8 on bench, or trying to completely "mix it up" by doing single-leg balance exercises on a vibration platform, take what you know works and just alter the pace and tempo.

If you've hit a roadblock, don't throw out your staples, just give them a changeup. Add a pause on your front squat and push-up. Push and pull the sled. Use some lateral moves on your shuttles instead of plowing straight ahead. These kinds of changeups will make familiar exercises tougher and hit your motor units (and your mind) in a whole new way. Here are a few ways to do it.

1. Triple Pause Front Squat and Push-Up Challenge

  • The Changeup: Take classic exercises and add some pauses. You'll increase time under tension, increase the eccentric, and learn what the saying, "Jell-O legs" really means!
  • Directions: On both the front squat and push-up, lower down then get a one-second pause at the bottom, go halfway up, pause again, lower back to the bottom, pause, and then return back to the top. This three-pause sequence is one rep. Do 5 sets of 5 reps of each exercise. If you can make it under 6 minutes your confidence will grow almost as much as your quads and triceps!

2. Shuffle Slam Challenge

  • The Changeup: Train your body using different planes. Although we do most things sagittally (like bench and deads) it's good to throw in some frontal and transverse plane work as well.
  • Directions: Get on a field or area with at least 35 meters of room to move with 7 cones and a med ball that you can slam. Side shuffle 5 yards, place a cone down and side shuffle back. Perform 10 side slams. Then repeat a 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 yards with the slams after the side shuffle. Do it in 5 minutes or less as either a good warm-up or finisher.
  • Safety Note: Stay as low as you can during the changes of direction on the shuffles. Touching the ground is a good way to force better form.

3. Push-Pull-Sprint Challenge

  • The Changeup: Sleds aren't just for heavy pushes anymore. Instead of seeing how much you can load on it, use this changeup to work your back and heart. All you need is a sled and a couple ropes.
  • Directions: Tie two lengths of rope equaling 30 yards to a sled. Begin pulling the sled the entire 30 yards back to you. You can alternate over or underhand grips if you like. Then push the sled back to the original position, sprint back, and repeat. This one is more about speed than weight. Keep the sled light depending on the surface and know the rope will make it tougher as you get farther out. Do 8 total sets in 10 minutes or less.
  • Safety Note: Since there are different sled styles and surfaces, choose an appropriate weight you can keep moving for the whole 10 minutes. The sled should feel relatively light in the beginning and don't worry, it'll get tougher as you go.