When Should You Switch Up Your Workout?
Are you a self-proclaimed creature of habit? Do you do close to the exact same workout week after week? Or even day after day?
Perhaps you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum and constantly changing your workout.
Whether you switch up your workout too much or not at all, you’ll likely have difficulty meeting your fitness goals. So what’s the best practice?
The Basics of Exercise
And we mean basic here.
Suffice it to say that he best way to build muscle and get stronger is to lift a little more weight or add extra reps over time. Makes sense. So that means you have to do the same exercises in order to achieve progressive overload. By the same token, the best way to improve as a runner or a swimmer is to keep at it. As the lungs and heart get stronger, you improve your ability to go faster and farther.
But doing the same workouts everyday can get boring pretty quickly. And when you’re bored, it can be difficult to stay motivated and engaged. And soon you’re wondering why you even bothered.
The obvious solution seems to be to constantly change your workouts. Or is it? Sure, you’ll be more mentally stimulated and willing to put in the time and effort. But with so much variety, there won’t be any incremental progress you can note. And any changes you make won’t seem meaningful.
So what’s a fitness enthusiast to do?
Pick Your Indicator Exercises
Doing a variety of exercises will allow you to target many different areas of your body. But within that variety, it’s helpful to have a set number of exercises that stay the same. These are your indicator exercises.
What they are will depend on your chosen exercise routine. If you’re into strength training, for example, you’ll probably want to keep squats and deadlifts in your workout. Or if your focus is on Pilates, there are certain moves on the reformer that your instructor may advise you do each time to measure your progress.
No matter what you choose, keeping track of your progress (either in a notebook or on an app) is hugely motivating. Each time you check in, your goal is to lift more weight/do more reps/run a little faster or longer – always striving to make meaningful increases.
Then once you have those indicator exercises in place, consider switching up the workout you do around them every four to six weeks. You may want to keep within the same exercise category, but do something that’s subtly different. For example, switch out your regular pushups for tricep pushups. Or swap your current static stretching for a yoga class.
Clues That It’s Time to Switch Up Your Workout
There are several indicators that you may not be getting the most from your workout. The biggest telltale signs that it’s time to switch things up are when you:
1. Feel Unchallenged
Remember when you first started that weight training regimen and eight reps felt nearly impossible? Well, if those eight reps are a breeze now, then you need to up the weight as well as the number of reps. When you feel unchallenged by your workout, it means your muscles have adapted and need more of a challenge.
2. Aren’t Sore
You’ve probably had a fitness instructor at some point tell you, “You’ll thank me for your soreness tomorrow.” There’s truth in this. Especially during the first week or two of a new exercise. But as your muscles adapt to the stress and the new movements, you will stop experiencing that soreness. And that’s an indicator that you need to either increase the weights and/or reps, or add new moves altogether.
3. Notice a Low Heart Rate
Your heart rate will also tell you whether your body has adapted to your current routine. In terms of HIIT or cardio routines, you want to keep your heart rate in the 60-80% range to get the most out of the workout. If it’s consistently below this, it’s time to kick things up.
4. Don’t Feel As Hungry
During an effective workout, muscle fiber is broken down and needs to be repaired. The body needs protein and minerals to rebuild muscle protein strands and this shows up as hunger. So if your workouts are too easy and muscle fibers are going untouched, you’re not going to experience the same hunger as when you’re nailing that workout.
Interested In Trying a New Workout?
If you’re feeling that it’s time to switch up your workout, contact us today.
Our full service studio offers Pilates, GYROTONIC®, and GYROKINESIS® classes and private sessions – all under the guidance of highly skilled and experienced instructors.
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