Let me ask you something. How often do you switch up your workout routine? Is it quite often or almost never?
Or maybe you are the one who doesn’t workout long enough to even have to switch up your workout routine.
Whatever the case, I’ll show you how to avoid plateau, how often to switch up your workout routine, and the benefits of doing so.
- Switch up your exercises (duh.)
- Change the sets and repetitions of your workouts
- Go in with more intensity
- Workout for longer or shorter
- Change the number of days you workout
Reasons to switch up your workout routine
Quite frankly, it says it in the title. It makes you a better athlete. If you are doing the same thing over and over, every single day, you are not getting better. That is not an opinion, that is a fact. Now, I realize, you can improve on certain exercises, but we want to not just work the same parts of the muscles every single time.
Take the biceps (wait, biceps is singular?) for example. Please don’t think that I am saying that biceps are more important the other parts of the body. In fact, I will say it. They are not. I am just using them as an example.
If we are doing a dumbbell curl, we are working the just the biceps, right? Well, it depends on the type of dumbbell curl. There is normal (supinating) dumbbell curl, supinating inner curl, supinating outer curl, reverse grip curl, neutral curl, and so many more variations. Sean Nalewanyj has an easy-to-read diagram that shows you the difference between neutral and supinating. My point is that there are so many different ways and angles to go at muscles, that we must switch it up to challenge ourselves.
If you want to know, here is a basic explanation of how the muscles react to stress put on them, based on the general adaptation syndrome, by Plateaus.
- First, they are alarmed when we do new workouts. So, as a beginner, this is why you start gaining muscle so quickly. Your muscles have never been introduced to these exercises, so they increase because of intramuscular, intermusclar, and neural adaptations.
- Second, the muscles start to adapt and resist. They get used to the same workouts, and now the stress that is being put on them isn’t enough to cause much change. This usually happens over a long period of time. Switching up our routines and nutrition patterns can fight against this.
- The final stage of GAS (haha, I said “Gas”) is exhaustion. This is where the muscles in the body can no longer take it. If you have heard someone talking about overtraining, this is what they meant. To combat exhaustion, add in a rest week. The frequency of the rest week varies, but the more advanced you are, the more often you should take them.
Isn’t that the goal, to challenge ourselves? That is what this whole website is about, improving and becoming the best at fitness we can be. We can’t do that if we don’t try new things and try to excel at them.
Who should switch up routines?
Anyone who wants to improve or get better. Now I realize some people are not working out every single day, every single week, every single month. I realize some people have busy schedules and lots of other priorities. If you only workout once a week, you probably don’t need to switch up your routine very often. I do, however, suggest that you do more than one workout per week.
Something that I suggest to people is- rather than working out once a week for an hour, trying working out five times a week for 15 minutes each. I like consistency, and even though you may be consistently getting those workouts in once a week, I would still prefer you are exercising daily. This keeps your muscles active and ready, and it lets them know that they need to stay awake throughout the day.
Working out more frequently will also give us an opportunity to switch up our workout routines. Do more…more frequently.
When/how often should you switch workout routines?
A rule I try to live by is I usually go until I am bored of a workout set, and then go one more week. If I just give up when I am bored of a workout set, that doesn’t show much discipline. In most cases, I switch up the cycle once every two months. If you want to more often, more power to you.
You can also do the sneaker attack (I made that name up). This is where you sneak in a different exercise every workout you do. Let’s say you are on a “chest and back” day, and you usually go back and forth between chest flies and lat pull-downs. So now, instead of doing lat pull-downs, you decide to sneak in one arm dumbbell rows. Now you will be able to tell how that one specific workout reacts with your body the next couple of days, without having to try to figure out which exercise it was that did the damage.
Ways to switch up the routine (the good part)
Now that we have covered the basics, let us get into the good stuff. I have already given ya’ll (sorry, I visited Tennessee a week ago and brought back some bad habits) a few examples of how to switch up your workout routine, but here are some more, just for you.
1. Exercises (duh)
I mentioned this several times. I will also add that just adding weightlifting exercises IS NOT ENOUGH (sorry, was that too loud?). You can add so many unique and fun exercises into your workout plan. Here are some ideas, but not limited to:
Running, yoga, stretching, balance, coordination, dancing, bodyweight, rock climbing, swimming, hiking, and so many more.
If you want to learn more about training your whole body to become a better athlete, put your name on my email list. I will be writing about all of those. Seriously, if you don’t believe me, I took a screenshot of my future article list:
So, just because you switch up your exercises frequently, doesn’t mean you will automatically improve. Let’s say you have reached your new personal record. You can now squat 180 pounds! “Well,” you say, “it looks like my work with squats is done, what next?”
Wrong. you can still improve on the squats, even if you don’t want to increase weight. Let me repeat that. You can still improve on the squats, even if you have perfect form, without adding weight! Try doing more squats. Like 10? No. 15? No. 25? Okay, that will do. Or if you want, do 10 reps for five sets. Or maybe even 10 sets, doesn’t that sound like fun!
Sometimes, we need a gut check. Are you half-butting it in the gym? If so, pump up the intensity. Go into the gym with a positive attitude. Get off the sugar, and get on the leg press. So many different things can effect our attitudes, and in return, effecting our intensity.
If you are crunched for time, this may be difficult. If not, why not give it a try. Instead of going in for the usual hour, try a 45 minute, high intensity workout. Or maybe try to make it for an hour and a half. If you really want a challenge, try to make it two hours. It will hurt, but boy will it feel good after!
5. Amount of days
And the final suggestion is to switch up the amount of days per week you workout. Usually, I don’t recommend to workout less days than you already are. I tell people to workout more days than they currently are.
Now, don’t do this every week, because rest days are important, but try going for seven days in a row. Do it not to be in better shape, but for discipline. If you can go for seven days in a row, you have just given yourself the confidence to go out and try new things at the gym. And maybe, just maybe, you will succeed the next time you try something new because you succeeded previously. That’s how the mind works. Use it to your advantage.
There you have it. If I missed anything, let me know in the comments below. If you want to enjoy fitness more, put your email below and I’ll send be sure to send more you enjoyable fitness content.