It’s hard enough to get into a good workout groove, and staying in one can be just as difficult unless you know when to change things up and move on to a new routine.
Let’s face it: sticking with the same exercise routine year in and year out is not an option. After a while, everyone tends to get a bit stale on the same old same old.
Research shows that the human body almost invariably responds less to a well established training stimulus than a new one. In fact, many top athletes and coaches recommend changing your training every six weeks for maximum benefit.
Just think of our caveman ancestors, who used to move around regularly to take advantage of new game and new surroundings. Their routines were anything but settled.
On the other hand, switching up your routine too quickly doesn’t give your body a chance to adapt to the old stimulus before you begin something new. So how do you know when it’s time to change your exercise routine? Here are a few clues.
1. You’re bored – Usually the first sign that your workout routine is getting stale is that you’re bored. We all require variety and change from time to time, and if you simply can’t face another day at the same old gym doing the same old routine, it’s definitely time for a change. Those who focus mostly on strength training might hit the pool or the bike for some cardio, perhaps try a new spin class or take a fitness course in a totally new discipline such as martial arts or Pilates. It matters less what you do than that you enjoy it and look forward to it.
2. You’re not getting the results you want – This is a clear sign that your body has adapted as much as it can to the training stimulus you’re giving it. When you stop seeing gains from your routine, you need to add a different stimulus to make new progress in your fitness level.
3. You don’t feel challenged by your workout – If you’re used to jogging for 20 minutes per day, but now after your run you feel like you’ve hardly even steeped out the door, it’s time to go farther or pick up the pace or both. As the saying goes, if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get the same results.
4. You get injured – Frequent injury is a clear sign that you’re doing something wrong. If you find you’re getting a lot of minor aches and pains, particularly if your exercise routine involves a lot of repetitive motion, it’s time to change the intensity, duration or type of exercise that you’re doing.
5. Your circumstances change – Our exercise needs, desires and abilities all change over time. If you’re a dedicated long-term exerciser, chances are that you won’t be able to follow the same program you used 10 or 15 years ago. Similarly, if you’ve taken on a new job involving longer hours or more responsibility, you likely won’t have the time or ability to maintain the same volume and intensity in your workout plan.
When you plan your workouts, you have to take into account the amount of time you have available, your fitness goals and abilities, and any other aspects of your life that contribute to your overall stress level. Each of these aspects can impact your exercise capacity and each can push your physical and mental stress levels over the edge if you don’t prepare for it.
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