Words by Darren Croft
Performing the same workouts every time you hit the gym won’t allow for consistent progression. Switching up your routine should be a part of your overall workout plan.
Getting too used to specific exercises means things can get stale and progression slowed down or even halted.
When is the best time to do this, and what telltale signs tell us it’s time to switch?
Switching too soon or too late can be disastrous if we’re working to a deadline, so let’s look closely at what our bodies need and what they can tell us about how we need to plan our workouts.
Why do you need to switch up your workout routine?
To put it simply, your body gets used to the same exercise, day in, day out. We must take ourselves out of our comfort zone and try something different to progress.
It feels great when we get comfortable with weight training exercises and can perform them without much effort. But if you’re looking to progress, you need to change it up and becoming too comfortable in the gym is like jogging on the spot for an hour.
Yes, you’ll maintain a certain fitness level, but you’ll do exactly that- you’ll stay in the same place you started from.
Performing the same workout program over and over won’t increase your muscle mass, strength and endurance. Whether lifting weights, cycling, or running, you’ll need to vary your routines occasionally if you want to get better at it.
There are certain times when you need to “plateau,” for example, if you’ve set a plan of progression for a few weeks and achieved your target. In this instance, a couple of weeks of maintaining your fitness level is a good idea as it will reinforce your strength for a while, reducing the risk of injury when you decide to move on again.
Adapting your workout often means bringing new muscles into play. Working new muscles means taking your body to a new level and becoming fitter and more robust.
Variety is also essential. Yes, we want to build muscle, but it’s game over if we lose interest in working out. Even if we haven’t leveled off, it’s still a good idea to change things up a bit to avoid things getting stale. Instead of going to the gym, go for a run or a cycle; try some pilates or circuit training. If we want to stick it out for the long haul, it’s vital that we don’t get bored.
Signs you should change your workout routine.
Knowing when to change is about knowing your body and how it responds to exercise. If you’re following a particular workout routine, you can check in at various points and see if you’re progressing in the right direction.
If you’re comfortably performing exercises you used to struggle with, it’s time to change up. Overloading your muscles is an integral part of strength progression. You have to challenge yourself and your muscles to achieve muscle growth, and if you feel that you can handle more weight or reps, it’s time to step it up a gear.
If you’re losing interest in working out, it’s time to change. You may not have plateaued, but you are frustrated at your lack of progression. Take a day off and do a different exercise to get your mind back in the game. When you don’t feel mentally strong enough, it’s time to change it up.
How can we alternate workouts to avoid adaptation?
There are many ways to change your workout, and what you do will depend on where you’re at with your workout plan.
If you feel the weights are too comfortable and you’re looking to bulk up, it’s time to move to heavier ones. If you’re looking for leaner muscles, consider increasing the number of sets and reps.
Working a different part of your body each day is a great way to alternate, and it’s particularly effective as it will give the muscle groups in that part of the body time to repair in between workouts. Add some cardio to the mix one day, too, just to spice things up.
Change your location
If you can get out of the gym and train outdoors instead, it’ll be great for stimulating your mental health and the perfect way to boost your senses to avoid things getting stale. Too often, we get over-comfortable in a particular environment, and a change of scenery can work wonders with the senses. Train from home, outdoors, a friend’s house, or even work. Don’t let things get stale.
Workout with a friend
Being in a friend’s or colleague’s company is a great way to ease the pressure of your workout and make it more fun. It can change your mood significantly, giving your brain a slightly different focus.
Some mental stimulation courtesy of social interaction can work wonders and even lead to you over-performing on your workout.
Change Your Exercises
Repeating the same exercises daily will wear a bit thin sometimes, so it’s a good idea to try some new ones occasionally to keep things fresh and potentially work different muscles. For example, you could try a hammer curl instead of a biceps curl, stimulating your muscles differently.
Progressive overload should also be a part of your routine. Or in other words, when things start to get easy (or manageable), you should add more weight or more more reps to make things harder.
Change Your Method of Training
There are many different types of training, and it’s easy enough to switch to another method, but make sure it’s something you can handle. Don’t switch to a training method you’re unfamiliar with or comfortable with, or you may risk injury. You can try many different routines, such as pyramid, drop sets and circuit training. Remember, when things are getting stale, variety is the key.
Time to switch things up?
If we want to progress and get stronger, we need to switch up occasionally, though it’s important to note that we shouldn’t do this too often. We need to have achieved the fitness and strength we’re working to before moving on up; otherwise, our bodies won’t have the power and stability to cope with heavier weights.
If you’re struggling to do the required number of sets or reps, or the weights you’re lifting are too heavy, you have moved on too quickly. Don’t be afraid to step back to a lighter weight until you can move back up again.
Use your body to determine when to change your workouts, and keep pushing the boundaries and progressing!
When it comes to switching up your workouts, listen to both your body and your mind. Are things getting too comfortable? Are you mentally stimulated enough? Are you progressing with your workouts?
When it’s time to change, keep things interesting to ensure you’ll have what it takes mentally and physically to move onto the next level.