When you find an exercise routine that you like doing and are able to do may take a lot of time and dedication and you may think this routine will help you reach your target. But with the repetition of the same type of workout, your body will get used to the exercise routine and will consume less energy.
If you change the exercise routine, your body will be continually challenged and it will change, resulting in a more successful target hit. In addition, you can avoid repetition and boredom. The change can be made in the intensity of the workout or in the type of workout. You may also increase the time spent working out.
When considering the topic of, when or how often to change your exercises, here are some guidelines to make good decisions about this important programming variable.
1. Exercises That No Longer Work.
There’s a phenomenon known as “adaptive resistance” that plays a big role in the need to change exercises. For example: Remember the first time you squat? You may have only done 95 for 3 sets of 10, the next morning you felt those muscle DOMS!
The squats were a new experience for your body, which regarded them as a threat even though you had less than 100 pounds on your back. Now, maybe you’re squatting 350 for sets of 10, the next morning? Not so much pain. After years of squatting 2-3 times a week, your body is used to the movement and weight.
Adaptive resistance occurs over much shorter time frames. Imagine you haven’t done Romanian deadlifts for several months, so you plan them for your next training. First time, you’re weaker than you expected and you’re sore the following day.
The following week you add 20 pounds to the bar and while you still had some soreness the next day, it wasn’t nearly as much as the previous week. Week 3 you add 10 pounds and the next day, no real soreness. A couple more weeks, you can’t add weight anymore and you’ve got no delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. Time to sub out RDL’s for something else because your adaptive mechanisms are used to it again.
Each successive week that you do the same exercise, the benefits decrease while the drawbacks (the risk of overuse injury in particular) increase.
2. When Your Weakness Becomes Stronger.
Training is always about identifying the problems in your overall plan and then finding solutions to those weaknesses in the form of new exercises that correct the problem.
Maybe you used to have problems at the lockout part of your bench, you spent time bringing your triceps strength. Now, your new sticking point is close to your chest. This new constantly evolving scenario suggests the need for more pec work, so you’ll drop a few triceps moves in favour of additional pec work.
Weaknesses don’t always take the form of weak muscles. You might have technical weaknesses, mobility issues, bad work capacity, or other holes in your overall lifestyle and physique.
There’s no perfect training plan that eliminates the occurrence of weak points. All plans have strengths and shortcomings, so you’ll always need to make adjustments to the beneficial factors for your outcome.
3. Anything Causing Pain.
You just wrote up a new training plan. Sure enough, the new chest exercise you planned hurts your shoulder.
A lot of lifters would stick to the plan and work through the pain. But you should make a substitution right then and there.
When you start a new plan containing new or unfamiliar exercises. Expect that you might run into a problem or two and have a backup ready to go for any exercises that you’re suspicious about.
This can also take place when, over a period of weeks, an exercise gradually goes from feeling great to feeling uncomfortable and then to feeling painful. Don’t let things get to this point. Even if an exercise still feels fine, don’t perform any exercise for more than 12 straight weeks without at least some minor modification.
This might be as simple as taking a slightly narrower grip on your bench, adding a pause at the bottom of your squat, doing pull-downs with a V-handle rather than a straight handle, or switching grips on the row.
4. Exercises That Might Not Work With A New Training.
Not all exercises are appropriate for all rep ranges. This means that when you switch from a hypertrophy phase to a strength phase, you’ll need to change at least some of your exercises.
In general, dumbbell, cable and bodyweight drills tend to be most suitable for higher-rep, while barbell and some machine exercises are better suited for low-rep training.
Stable, bilateral, multi-joint drills are more suitable for heavy loading, whereas unilateral, less stable movements might be better for higher rep sets.
Exercises that allow greater ranges of motion (ROM) tend to be better suited for hypertrophy phases. After all, volume is the key driver for muscular hypertrophy and exercises with greater ROM rack up more volume than exercises with less range of motion.
5. Changes To Goals And Priorities.
If you decide to amend your initial target, you’ll need to make some significant changes to your exercise plans.
Or, maybe you’re coming to the conclusion that you’re placing low because your muscle strengths aren’t where you want them. This means that you might need to temporarily eliminate some other exercises to accommodate your priorities.
If you suddenly decide you’d like to be super lean and you’ve been doing strength training, you’d be better switching to a hypertrophy phase to prevent the loss of muscle mass while you’re dieting. This requires some changes to your exercise plans.
6. Broaden Your Perspective.
Despite our best efforts and workout plans, we often find ourselves in a routine and we end up narrowing our exercise choices unnecessarily. It’s a good thing to periodically try new things, even if your current exercises seem to be working well. You never know, you might find something really valuable.
- Change out somewhere between 50-100% of your exercises every 4-8 weeks, based on the above 6 points.
- If you’re less experienced, you’ll have less adaptive resistance. So you need lots of practice on the basics and you won’t need to make quite as many frequent changes.
- The more advanced you are, the more frequently you’ll need to rotate exercises to thwart adaptive resistance and also to keep overuse injuries at bay.