How Often Should You Change Your Workout Routine?
When looking at how often should you change your workout routine my suggestion is normally both simple and complicated at the same time.
That’s because my answer would be to change it when it stops having the desired training effect, and that can be different for everyone.
Fixed Training Blocks
And here’s a good example of what I mean.
It’s common when you’re following someone else’s training time and training program that you’ll be working in set training periods.
And you might be changing the workout routine or the training structure at fixed intervals. So if you’re doing a 12-week plan, it might be four blocks of three weeks, three blocks, or four weeks, two blocks of six weeks.
It might also be six blocks for two weeks, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.
But what may happen is when you switch from one phase to another, you’re not enjoying the workouts as much.
Or you’re not feeling it as much. You’re not getting the same benefit from it.
So then you have to question, was that worth the change? And was it at the right time for you?
My Pandemic Training Routine
And even though gyms have re-opened, I haven’t really been back.
Mainly I do a lot of walking, some yoga/mobility/stretching work, and three full-body callisthenics strength-focused workouts a week. That overall structure hasn’t really changed in 2 years.
I had a brief stint where I was really enjoying Peloton classes on the bike. I had a brief stint where I was running on the treadmill and I do occasional kettlebell work as well.
But overall, my structure has been mainly walking, mobility and callisthenics or body weight.
And within that, my workout structure also hasn’t changed that much either.
I haven’t really changed the exercises that much unless I needed to make a progression or regression.
It’s pretty much always been pull-ups, push-ups, inverted rows, dips, pike press up for shoulders, banded lateral raises, and then variations of squats and lunges.
And to be honest, that is still working well for me. I may occasionally tweak the sets and reps, but overall it’s pretty much always been those same exercises.
If I look at my progress:
- The quality and quantity of my pull-ups have both gone up
- I can progress from weighted pushups to weighted arche pushups (where you’ve got one hand extended out to the side)
- Now I can do inverted rows using a TRX or suspension trainer with both of my feet propped up on the door rather than on the floor. So I’m not just horizontal, I’m actually on a slight decline.
- I can do dips with an extra 12-kilogram weight attached to my waist.
- And my legs are probably also the leanest they’ve ever been in my adult life. Probably even my, actually my whole life.
And that’s about having any real set performance goal (which is a whole separate topic, that we’ll probably come onto another time).
But none of that would have really happened if I was changing up my workout routine every four to six weeks.
Variety For The Sake Of Variety
It’s very trendy in the fitness industry to offer a variety for the sake of offering variety.
- Fitness magazines wouldn’t really sell if they were constantly saying, “do the same workout we told you to do a month ago”.Fitness studios probably wouldn’t have a lot of members if they kept saying that we’re going to do the same workout again and again, and again.
- Fitness apps probably wouldn’t get many subscribers if it didn’t offer variety and they only offered a handful of classes that they know work.
So there’s a huge commercial benefit for companies and for the fitness industry to push variety for the sake of pushing variety.
That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be right for you.
How Often You Should Change Your Workouts Is About More Than Just Performance
Having said all of that, your performance and your progress aren’t necessarily the only things to consider.
Your enjoyment as a workout is also an important factor.
If you start to find your workouts boring, you’ll be less motivated to do them, which is going to affect your performance.
It’s going to affect your progress and you’re probably not going to put in as much effort, which means you’re not going to benefit from them as much either.
So if something like that happens then, of course, making a change just for the sake of making a change, to freshen things up and to give yourself that boost again, there’s nothing wrong with that.
So How Often Should You Change Your Workouts?
All that brings me nicely back to my original answer. That is both simple and complicated.
That you should change up your workouts or change up your training plans when they stop serving the purpose that you need them to serve for you.
And that’s something that’s going to be different for everyone. And that’s something you’re going to have to gauge yourself a little bit.