When should we change our workout plan?

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How many times have you changed your workout plan because you thought it wasn’t working on you? Do you think you did the right thing or did you get ahead of yourself?
Your body needs weight-training or any other guided activity to promote the morphological and functional adaptation (strength, flexibility, reaction, etc). However, changing your workout is not as easy as it may seem. It takes time for your body to adapt to a new program and enjoy the benefits. The body’s adaptation goes through three stages when it faces a new physical stimulation.

The first stage concerns the shock it provoques: when the body faces a new stimulation, the “pain” (discomfort) develops and motivation decreases.
The second stage is the so-called adaptation to stimulation: the body adapts to a new workout stimulation and the performance increases.
The third stage is characterized by tiredness: the body has already adapted to the new stimulation and stagnates. It is likely that the performance remains the same or, in the case of many motivated athletes, the performance can decrease due to an extreme workout.

This means that some exercises demand more body consciousness, strength and flexibility to be performed, but can only be executed at the right time. If you change your program without having gone through the three stages, there’s a serious risk for injury. That’s why it isn’t convenient to constantly change the plan you already have. You need to improve your physical and motor skills and if you get ahead of yourself you will find it harder to reach your goal. You need to be patient because, at the beginning, the hardest exercises will not be part of your workout routine. When your body isn’t showing any results, that’s when it’s time to rethink your workout plan so you can keep improving it without facing muscular stagnation.

READ MORE: How to get back to your workouts after an injury?

HOW TO CHANGE IT?

Changing your workout plan doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be radical, mainly because you already know your body and you know which exercises suit you the best. You just need to do a few changes in your plan to keep reaching good results.

Tips to create new stimulation without having to change your workout plan completely:

– Increase the intensity of your exercises;

– Increase the amount of sets;

– Increase the number of reps;

– Change the order of execution of complex exercises;

– Increase the amount of exercises;

– Alternate your workout days;

– Define the days in which you train the same muscle;

– Redefine resting time between sets;

– Use variations for classic exercises (Ex: change from Barbell Bench Press to Dumbbell Press; perform a front squat instead of the normal one)

These tips may be enough for significant alterations to occur in your workout without having to change it radically. It’s a good way to gradually alternate your routine without having your body suffering great injuries.

WHEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE IT?

There may be many theories that defend the fact that you should change your workout in a specific period but, unfortunately, it is entirely up to you. Each case is unique and only you or your PT will know when it is time to change. Analyze your body and try to understand if it’s responding to the physical load that you’re putting into it and change it only when you are not getting the expected results. Avoid sudden changes/frequent changes to your workout plan, because then you’ll never know what’s really working. Do not change your workout routine for no apparent reason. Usually, your body takes 6 to 8 weeks to assimilate the effects that you want. However, each metabolism has a different rhythm, that’s why it’s not possible to establish a rule. What happens when you don’t change your routine for a great amount of time, for instance, 6 months, is that your body will adapt to the development and will stagnate.

Remember:

1. You can keep the same workout for as long as you find necessary, there’s no minimum or maximum limit. The important is that your plan is working.

2. Just working out won’t perform any miracles. If you don’t stick to a diet, there’s no workout in the world that will make up for that.

3. Patience is the key. It is impossible to know if a workout is bad for you with just a few weeks of experience. Give it time before you start changing things.

READ MORE:

12 effective strategies to overcome stagnation in your muscle development

Resting and Overtraining: Should I take a break from the gym?

How to prevent muscle imbalance?

References:

N/d, Quando devemos mudar o treino, September  17, 2013, aadaptation of the original version

Fabricio Fouraux, Quando devo mudar meu treino de musculação?, September 13, adaptation of the original version

Sandro Lenzi, Quando devemos mudar o treino?, September 21, 2013, adaptation of the original version

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