Thursday, April 30, 2009

Changing Up Your Workout Routine

Have you ever come to a point in your cardio or weight lifting training regiment where everything seems to be going great and your fitness goals seem to be within reach, but then suddenly you seem to hit a wall in respect to your results, and you can’t figure out how to overcome it? Often times this causes people to quit working out altogether, because they get down on themselves and lose their motivation and drive to succeed and begin to wonder, “Why am I doing this to myself?”

I know, because I’ve been there. Except I go to the opposite extreme like spinning four times a week, with weight lifting and running in between those days, and pushing myself so hard that I burn my own body out causing fatigue in which my body feeds on my muscle instead of the fat. Trust me… I’ve tried everything to bust through a plateau. By the one thing that everyone says to me is, “Have you changed your routine lately?”

This is a very important question, because changing up your workout routine is beneficial in seeing results. It is what is also called “muscle confusion”. You want to always keep the body guessing. Never let it know what is coming next, never let it adapt!

There are articles out there that range from changing your workout up as early as 3 week to as late as 12 weeks. I recommend (along with many others) changing it up every 4-8 weeks.

Here are just a few ways you can go about mixing things up:

  1. Change your rep/set range. If you were previously performing 3 set of 10-15 reps, try doing 4 sets of 8-12 reps.
  2. Increase Weight. Increase the weight from what you normally lift and decrease the reps
  3. Alternate your grips/stances. Try switching to a more narrow stance when doing squats, or reverse your hand position when performing lat pulldowns.
  4. Switch to barbells/dumbbells. Use dumbbells for the bench press instead of the barbell, or try barbell bent-over rows instead of dumbells.
  5. Switch to free weights. Instead of using the machines try using free weights (barbells and dumbbells). Even the cable machines are great!
  6. Reduce/add time to rest periods. Take only 30 seconds in between sets to recuperate, or take an extra minute longer than you have been.
  7. Interval Train. Try sprinting for a minute in between 5 minutes of a regular pace jog or run.
  8. Same muscle – different exercise. Instead of doing the chest press or bench press, try doing regular pushups.
  9. Change Machines. Get off the elliptical and run on the treadmill or ride a bike.
  10. Motivation. Find something that keeps you motivated. Weather it be a workout partner, “goal” clothing, or even a good iPod music mix. Motivation is KEY!

There are many websites out there that can help you find an alternative exercise for the same muscle group. I even found some that we'll map out your whole workout routine for you. And you can always ask me questions on exercises. If I can't find pictures or a good explanation on how to do something I will take a picture or video for you. Just let me know!

Just keep your body guessing!


I totally space out last night when posting this. GO visit Sandy at God Speak Today for Fitness Friday, then drop in on Debbie at Heart Choices! They amazing ladies!


My Gettin' Fine in '09 Challenge is Posted directly below this!


Debbie said...

These are some great suggestions, Sarah. I usually am very consistent in my exercise. I stretch, do my cardio for 40 minutes on the treadmill and then do my weights every other day. I also have a stretching routine. But if I find myself getting bored, I go outside for a walk or a hike up the mountain.

Having said all of this, something happened recently that messed me up. It is silly but my TV that I use to distract myself when I'm on the treadmill broke. I couldn't believe the difference it made. I would get engrossed in a show or the news and forget the time I was exercising. Now, I find it much harder. I've got to get it fixed!

But the other thing I wanted to mention is that interval training has helped me in the past. When I'm stuck at a plateau that does help me break through.

Thanks Sarah for your good suggestions and help. For some reason, I forgot that you were also a nurse!

Robin said...

My ipod keeps me motivated, thank you for the ideas on motivation.

Michele Williams said...

I need some help with low impact exercise .... I am 51 years old, weigh 327 lbs... down from 380 lbs... 5' 4" ... been homebound for 5 years due to chronic illness and pain... Lupus, RA, Fibromylgia, IBS, Chronic Fatique, etc...I have just started to walk again... Before I couldn't walk 50 feet... now I can walk almost 1/2 mile... but bone spurs and RA make it diff... I go to the apartment pool, but it's not heated, and the other day it was about 72 degrees.. so my pain was worse... and I got chilled and now have a cold... I need encouragement to know some workout for RA and Fibro patients... also for those who are as over weight as I am... Do you have some infor for me? God bless you...

Sandy at God Speaks Today said...


First of all, I don't hate you for eating sugar substitutes. I love you. :)

Seriously, I would switch back to sugar. It's only 15 cals per tsp. I'm just sayin'

Second of all, great post. I am queen of workout rut. For me, changing it up, means doing something different once a year. I'm so boring with my exercise...but I like what I do, so I'm often resistant to change.

I guess that's why I love doing BFL every once in a while, because it forces me to keep pushing myself to my max. And that 30 day shred DVD is also helping me.

But I'm still not seeing I guess it's time to change it up AGAIN!

You are awesome, girl!