How often should you change your workout routine?
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Once you have found your rhythm with your exercise routine, the thought of changing things might make you feel uneasy – if you are seeing results then why mess with the process?
What if you change something and it does not work for you? Or worse, what if it rolls back your progress? It is natural to want to stick with what you know, but to reach your weight loss or muscle gain goals, you will need to get out of your comfort zone.
Many studies have shown that if you want to get faster, stronger and train more efficiently, the best way to do it is to change your workouts and not stick to the same fitness regime.
Why do you have to change your exercises?
Our bodies are incredibly adaptable and will quickly learn how to perform activities more efficiently.
This was to our advantage back when work was intensely manual and people roamed around on foot, but nowadays everyday life is much easier – we move for the sake of exercise and we want to get the most out of the shortest session.
Stalled progress: the hidden enemy to weight loss and muscle gain
This is why it is important to change up your exercise routine. Over time, our bodies adjust to activities and minimise the energy loss or strain required to perform them. We call this ‘stalled progress’.
If your goal is to lose weight, then there are a few things you need to consider when planning your workouts. The first is something we have mentioned countless times before, you need to do a combination of cardio and strength training to lose weight effectively.
While cardio burns more calories in-session, strength training builds muscles mass that requires more energy to preserve and so increases your basal metabolic rate (aka the rate at which you burn calories day-to-day)
So, instead of smashing 4-5 cardio sessions a week, mix things up with 2-3 cardio sessions and 2 strength sessions. Switching between the two will give you an overall more effective workout structure.
Arnie says: Shock your muscles
There’s a really interesting interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger, where he describes how change was such an important part of his training. Whether or not you want to be the size of a barn, as Arnie was in his hay day, his way of thinking of training is intriguing; that your muscles will come to expect what’s coming next in your workout. So you have to be sneaky and shock them!
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Can you do the same cardio every day?
Next, you need to think about the type of cardio you are doing. Repeatedly knocking out 45-minute treadmill sessions will burn calories and promote weight loss, but it is not the most efficient pathway to success.
It is better to have a handful of cardio activities to pick from and to change things up frequently. Spinning, cross-training, rowing, dance fitness, and swimming are all effective forms of cardio that engage different parts of the body.
How often should you change your cardio routine?
We find that going with the seasons can be a good rule of thumb and.
- Getting outside and enjoying a springtime jog
- Taking a cooling swim on hot summer days
- Opting for exercise classes in the autumn and winter fit with how we naturally want to workout.
How often should you change your weight training routine?
If your exercise goals are about building muscle, then you need to be attuned to what you are doing and how often you are doing it.
To build bulk, focus on using heavier weights for short intense sets. Perform moves slowly, using your power to lift the weight up (or pull it down, depending on the equipment).
This will challenge your muscles and encourage them to grow. However, it is not good practice to continuously push yourself to lift heavier and heavier weights without giving your new muscles a chance to recover and settle.
Muscle building tip: Always hold the weight in place and squeeze your muscles at the end of each rep. This tiny change to your movement can make a huge difference to the effectiveness of your workouts if your goal is bigger muscles.
When you can successfully perform a set of 15 reps on a weight, rather than moving onto the next bracket, you should aim to develop your lifting endurance.
You can do this by increasing the number of reps, performing more sets and by shortening the rest times in-between sets. Essentially, you do not want to be able to just lift a weight, you want to feel entirely comfortable with it.
It is also important to maintain a whole-body balance, i.e. not to focus your training on one part of the body. While your eyes might be drawn to your arms or chest muscles when you look in the mirror, everyone else sees you as a whole person. Being noticeably stronger in one area can result in an odd body shape.
Can you lift the same weight every day
When you have reached your fitness goals and are working out to maintain your weight loss or strength, you might think that sticking to a routine will be okay because, after all, you are not trying to progress any further. Do not fall into this trap!
You still need to mix things up to prevent your body from sliding backwards because, as we have already said, it will adapt to performing activities. And anyway, a lifetime knocking out the same routine would be very dull, which makes maintenance harder from a motivation perspective.
Final thoughts: Changing your workout is good for your mind too
One of the other reasons to change up your workout is that it helps to keep your mind engaged. Throughout this difficult period of dealing with the monotony social restrictions and lockdown, you need to create your own novelty.
Adding new moves into your home workout and changing up the muscle groups you focus on in each session are ways that you can add a bit of variety into your routine. It all helps!
References & Further Reading
- Menno Henselmans – Fixed or varied exercise selection: which is better?
- NCBI – Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength
- CDC – How much physical activity do adults need?
- AceFitness – Why is it important to vary my workout routines?
- Time – 13 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Workout, According to Research