Something every fitness fanatic is likely to wonder at some point is, when should I switch up my workout routine? Once you’ve found a workout regime that suits you, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut. Who likes change, right? But there are many important reasons to regularly switch up your gym workout routines, and some experts recommend adjusting your exercise schedule as often as every 6-8 weeks.
If you’re not sure when to change your fitness plan, it’s best to listen to your body and your mind. Here are ten signs you might need to change your workout routine.
You’re Not Seeing Results
Unless your main fitness goal is maintenance, you should ensure that you’re always seeing progress. So, if your workout routines aren’t giving you results there’s no point in continuing with them.
Many athletes find that by sticking with the same exercise routine for long periods of time, they hit a plateau and stop seeing the improvements that their workout once gave them. Depending on your personal fitness goals, that might mean that you see less progress in your endurance, speed, mass, or weight loss. For example, if the only workout routine for abs in your gym schedule is crunches, you’re likely to stop seeing increased definition and strength after a certain period of time. But, by adjusting your workout regime to include another core-building move like Russian twists, you’ll engage new muscles and find yourself being challenged in new ways.
You Have New Goals
If you work out it’s likely that you’re trying to achieve something in particular. And, when you achieve one goal, it’s likely you’ll set yourself a new one. But, are you adjusting your workout routine to fit your new targets? If not, you’re never going to reach your maximum potential.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re aiming to lose weight. Once you hit your target weight, workout routines for weight loss should no longer feature in your regime. You’ll need to look at your gym exercise training routine and adapt it accordingly to fit your new goal.
Certain Exercises no Longer Work
Say that you bench press every time you hit the gym. The first time you did it would probably leave you with a decent amount of aching for a few days after the workout because your muscles hadn’t been used in that way before. But, after a couple of weeks, you’d probably find it easier and easier to add more weight, and that the after-effects are non-existent. This is a phenomenon called adaptive resistance, and it’s the reason that certain exercises simply stop working after a period of time.
So, once you’ve stopped feeling the burn from bench presses, switch to dips or push-ups to work a different set of muscles in a new way. This will help ensure that you get the maximum benefit from your workout while minimizing the risk of injury.
Your Exercise Routines are too Easy…
Instead of one exercise in your gym regime becoming too easy, this is when your entire workout stops being challenging. If you’ve hardly broken a sweat when your exercise routine is complete, that’s a clear sign that it’s no longer working for you.
If your workouts tend to be cardio-focused but your current gym circuit is no longer getting your heart rate up, add in some HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sessions. If you tend to stick to the weight room but you’re not feeling challenged during your workout, increase the resistance and/or reps for your entire routine.
You should never be completely beat after a gym session, but you should definitely be able to tell that you did some exercise. So if you never feel sore or you don’t get that post-workout buzz anymore, it’s time to change your workout routine.
…Or, Your Exercise Routines are too Tough
If every gym session leaves you aching and lacking in energy, you’re pushing yourself too hard. This can have a negative effect on your overall health, and if you’re feeling run down it’s much more likely that you’ll quit your workout routine.
Ease up on your current routine, either by dropping a session from your gym schedule or adapting your workout regime to be more manageable. By giving your body time to rest and recover, you’re likely to see quicker gains than you would by punishing your body with a too-tough workout.
Much like everything in life, if you’re bored you’re much less likely to do it. So, if it feels like a chore to put on your workout gear, it’s a clear sign that your workout plans are no longer working for you. Experimenting with your schedule until you find a routine that fits will make it much more likely that you’ll stick at it.
To keep your motivation up, make an effort to try a new activity or class every couple of weeks. Enlisting a friend or hiring a trainer can also help eliminate boredom. And, if you do your workout routine at home you could find that adding a group class or two will reignite your enthusiasm. It might even be as simple as making a new workout playlist or alternating the time of day that you head to the gym.
Weak Points have Become Strong Points
When you first embarked on your fitness regime you probably focused your efforts on your biggest weaknesses. That might have been by zoning in on a specific muscle group during weight training routines, or by fixating on a broader fitness goal like endurance during cardio. If so, it’s likely that those weaknesses are now your strengths, so there’s less of a need to focus on them.
Your strengths and weaknesses are constantly evolving, so your fitness routine should also be. That’s not to say you have to completely ditch any exercises that focus on your quads, for example, once you’ve hit your goals in that area. Instead, it might simply be time to broaden your attention to include the entire lower body.
There’s no Variety in Your Workouts
If you have a favorite sport or activity, it’s likely that it dominates your workout schedule. But if all you’re doing is running, you might want to consider switching up your routine to include strength training or other forms of cardio.
The key reason for this is that if you know exactly what’s in store for you in a workout, your body does too. There will be no challenges in your workouts, which can lead to laziness and slow progress. Keep things fresh by changing one session per week for something new and exciting, and you’ll likely find that your workout routine becomes much more fun and rewarding.
Your Body Doesn’t Feel Good
If you find that you’re constantly getting injured, you need to change your workout regime immediately. Sticking to the same moves for a prolonged period of time can leave you vulnerable to damage, so if you’re suffering from a reoccurring injury that’s a sure sign that you need more variety in your workout.
An imbalanced workout can also leave you at risk of injury. For example, if you’re working on your shoulders and neglecting your chest you run the risk of overcompensating. Or, if you’re only running but you aren’t putting any effort into strengthening your upper body, this could have the same effect. Full body workout routines are the only true way to ensure the proper balance that will help protect you from injury.
A good gym routine should leave you feeling strong, balanced, and energized, so if that isn’t the case, it’s not working for you. And, if you do an exercise for the first time and it instantly causes you pain, don’t try and tough it out. Instead, trade out that move for an alternative that’s gentler on that area.
Certain Exercises don’t fit Your Current Training Block
If you’ve changed your workout for any of the above reasons, it might be that your new training block now feels disjointed. For example, if you’ve hit your weight loss goals and muscle building workout plans are now your thing, you might want to consider substituting some machine exercises with more dumbbell drills. The aim is to keep things balanced, so keep tweaking your workout until you find the sweet spot.
Should You Change Your Workout Routine?
Most people find that changing 50-100% of their workout every 4-8 weeks is what works best for them. But, as we said at the beginning of this article, it’s really down to your individual physical and mental state.
To avoid slumps and frustrating plateaus, be mindful of how you feel before, during and after workout routines. Keep an eye on progress and check in with yourself regularly to see whether your goals have changed and whether your workout routine needs the do the same.
How often do you change your workout regime? What is the main trigger for you to do so? Let us know in the comments.