Why should I change my workout routine on a regular basis?
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. We see it time and time again, we register at the gym and we keep the same exercise routine for months and sometimes even years. Result; we hit a plateau, we stop seeing results, we get bored, unmotivated and we drop out.
Here are several important reasons why we should keep it fresh and change our workout routine regularly in 4 to 6 week intervals.
The physiological factors:
When working out regularly, whether it be cardio or strength training, the body’s response to the training stimulus followed by an adequate recuperative period will trigger what is called supercompensation. Simply put, this means a slight improvement of your fitness level since your last workout. This slight improvement will be reproduced with each workout for a period of approximately 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the type of workout. After this period, you will reach a plateau because your body has adapted to the repetitive training stimulus and the only way to continue progressing is to change the routine. When strength training, you can increase the load slightly while decreasing the number of reps. These changes will present a new challenge for your body and will restart your progression. On a cardiovascular level, it is possible to improve by introducing interval training . In other words, bursts of high-intensity work interspersed with periods of low-intensity work. For example, instead of a continuous 30 minutes at level 8, you can exercise in 1-minute intervals at level 10-12 interspersed with 3-minute recovery periods at level 6-8. You will then improve your cardiovascular capacity more efficiently than with a continuous workout.
The psychological factors:
Let’s be honest, doing the same exercises or the same routine becomes boring , affects your motivation and keeps you working inside your comfort zone, all of which impede your progress. Varying exercise routines can not only keep you physically challenged, but mentally stimulated as well. Furthermore, an intense workout carried out over a prolonged period of time, say 12 months, can produce overtraining. Simply put, overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness.
Finally, it is important to understand that it is not possible to train all physical qualities (strength, endurance, cardiovascular capacity, etc.) at the same time. There is a logical and structured process that must be respected. There are certain physical attributes that must be developed and improved before others in order to ensure a constant progression and avoid injury.
Here is a general example of a plan for the development of different physical qualities within the context of a weight loss program. It is important to point out that the following is just one of several possible scenarios.
This stage serves as an introduction to the program and to prepare your body for the demands of increased physical activity. The time and the intensity of the workouts are moderate. The strength training/cardio ratio is more or less equal. The improvement of your fitness level during this stage will allow you to be more active in your daily activities, therefore burn more calories.
This stage is dedicated the increase of muscle mass and strength. Without neglecting the cardiovascular workout, the emphasis will be on strength training. The time and intensity of the strength training sessions will increase while the cardiovascular sessions will remain moderate. You ladies out there need not worry, you will not develop « Hulk-like » muscles, but a minimum amount is required in order to get firm muscle tone.
During this stage, the roles are reversed. Cardiovascular training takes center stage and strength training is less prevalent. The objective here is to improve the cardiovascular capacity and endurance in order to maximize energy expenditure and fat burning while maintaining the muscle tone developed in the previous stage. The time, intensity and frequency of the cardiovascular sessions increase with the addition of mixed-interval training. One or two strength training sessions at a moderate intensity per week will help maintain muscle strength.
Finally, after having reached your target weight, you must maintain it and it is now time to set new goals. A half marathon perhaps!
By Martin Lacharité