How often should you change your workout plan?
One of the most frequently asked questions is that how often should you stick to a workout plan. Some people never change anything – they do the same exercises from training to training, while others doesn't even have a plan, as they keep changing everything. We'll tell you when you should, and when you shouldn't change your workout.
Let's start with this: the rate of changing your workouts depends on how fit you are at the moment. Let's see what tactic beginners and advanced weight lifters should use when it comes down to changing their workouts.
When beginners first try the gym – without the assistance of a personal trainer – they usually try out every machine, because they didn't develop muscle memory yet, and they can't feel that their muscles are working. There are plenty of fancy machines to try out, and they can't resist the temptation. That is why beginners should focus on learning the basic exercises (bench press, squat, deadlift, pulldown) first, not on the variety of exercises.
Why? Because it's impossible to learn how to do every exercise as a beginner, and the less movements you have to learn, the more effective you will be in executing them.
For advanced lifters
Advanced lifters are – hopefully – already good in doing the exercises, they can perform them in the proper way. They have to do the exact opposite of what is recommended for beginners, which is varying the exercises (but not too often!).
This is needed because the human body adapts to changes in a very fast way, in other words, it is very easy to get used to a workout plan, which ultimately leads to a plateau. The more you do an exercise, the better and the stronger you become in it. And we, weight lifters just love this, even if this sensation has a downside: some people only do exercises in which they feel they are good at, and that could be problematic.
In fact, as an advanced lifter, you should aim to do as many hard exercises in the gym as possible. It's easy to see why: because you hate to do them, you are not used to them, therefore these are the exercises that will give your muscles the impulse they need in order to grow. Take note that under the expression "hard exercises" we don't actually mean exercises which cause pain (do NOT do these!). We call an exercise hard, simply if you don't like it because it makes you feel uncomfortable. Switch one of your favorite exercises (let's say: bench press) to a hard one (dip for example). After a while you can do bench presses again, you haven't done it for a while, so it will give a new sensation for your muscles, even if your brain is still familiar with the exercise :).
For both groups
Do NOT change your workout plan if it gives you results – it is not written in stone that when exactly to switch your workout. Nor for beginners, nor for experts. But don't worry, we'll give you some help about when to change your plan:
- if you're unable to keep adding more weight to the exercises
- if your body is not changing anymore
Probably the most important thing is not when, but how to change your workout:
- do more reps
- lift heavier weights (step by step!)
- change your tempo (do it faster!)
- increase the intensity
If your goal is to squat with 250 pounds, and you start training with lighter weights two weeks of heavy weight training, you're not giving your body the time it needs to adapt to changes and to help to reach your goal. So make sure not to change your workout plan completely. Make smaller steps: first just do 1 more rep with a certain weight. Then next week do 2 more reps with the same weight. After that stay in the new rep range, but increase the weight by 5 pounds. You get the idea.
If you change everything n your workout plan in the same time, you won't confuse the muscles, you will just confuse yourself. You won't be able to track your progress.
Last, but not least, if your body is not changing no matter how smart you train, take a look on your diet. Do you give your body everything it needs in order to grow? Do you take the right amount of supplements (vitamins, protein, carbs, creatine, BCAA, L-glutamine)? If not, solve that problem first.
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