From walking to lifting weights: How often should you change your workout routine?

People asking for exercise advice are usually looking for a simple answer. Do this more. Do this a lot of this thing, for a long time. Get these winnings. In fact, things are never so simple.

This is certainly true of the age-old question of how often one should change up one’s exercise routine.

Unfortunately, there is not a single perfectly designed study that completely answers this question. A lot depends on things like how fit you really are, your goals, and how you train.

But if you’re thinking of switching up your routine, here are some factors to consider:

Manipulate your exercise program

The idea that you should mix up your exercise routine likely comes from the concepts of progressive overload (where you need motivation to get continuous improvements) and the principle of diminishing returns (where the more experienced you are at something, the less progress you can make at a particular stimulus). .
One way people try to incorporate these principles into training is through something called “periodisation”.
This is where you deal with certain aspects of the training program, such as exercise volume, intensity, and frequency.
PMS models typically maintain a consistent exercise selection for a set period of time, usually an eight- to 12-week program.

The two main forms of cycles are linear and wavy. The linear cycle involves the gradual increase of the variable.

For example, during an eight-week program, the loads may get heavier, but the number of sets or repetitions you do goes down.
The ripple period involves treating different variables (usually volume and intensity) on different days.
So Monday, you might do some heavy lifting, then Tuesday’s focus will be on higher repetitions, and then you’ll have explosive or speed priority the next day.
Research shows that periodic programs appear to outperform their non-periodic counterparts, with no difference being made between wavy and linear models.

Even if you don’t intentionally do a cycling plan, most exercise programs tend to be eight to 12 weeks in length and include some of the standard step gradations mentioned above.

It depends on your goals

How about confusing the actual exercises themselves?

Research has shown that people gain comparable or greater muscle strength and size when they choose to choose a variable exercise compared to choosing a stationary exercise.

Variable exercise selection is where you don’t always commit to using the same exercise for the same muscle groups.
For example, you could alternate between squats and leg presses the next session.
Instead, a static limitation means that the duration of the program will remain with the same exercise (for example, squats).
And using a variety can improve motivation.
On the contrary, excessive cycling of exercises seems to have a negative effect on muscle gains.
When it comes right down to it, many of the moves are skill-based; By not practicing too much, you may not progress quickly.

This probably only applies to complex, multi-joint exercises like those performed with a barbell (as opposed to, say, gym machines).

Is this important? If you have a performance-related goal to raise a certain amount, or something similar, it probably is. But if you are training for health and wellbeing, this may not be a factor for you.

What about running?

Many of us run through the same cycle, at the same pace, for weeks and years on end. Is that a problem?
Some researchers recommend increasing your training motivation after six months of endurance training, since most benefits occur between three and six months, then tend to stabilize without changing training regimens.
But is it enough for health? Our current national recommendations for physical activity do not mention the need to advance or change exercise. They simply state the amount, intensity, and type of exercise for health benefits. Exercising for performance or continuous improvement seems to be a different story.
If you are thinking about how often we should change up our exercise, think about the time it takes for the body to adapt after a workout.

Research has shown that muscle growth can occur as early as three weeks in a resistance training program and plateaus at about three months in previously untrained subjects.

Adaptations to cardiovascular fitness can occur as early as about one week into the training program but have been shown to stabilize within three weeks if no additional progressive overload is applied.
Even after a long-term progressive aerobic exercise program, cardiovascular fitness measurements tend to stabilize after nine months of training. Do what you enjoy and can commit to
So what do we take away from all the evidence above? Adaptation happens quickly, but so does stabilization quickly without constant stimulation.
However, we all have a “ceiling” for adaptation, beyond which it will take a lot of effort to make progress.
This goes back to the principle of diminishing returns, where the more you train, the less you can improve.
All things considered, the traditional approach of changing your program every 12 weeks might actually make sense in order to prevent plateauing.
However, there is no hard and fast rule about how often you should mix.
Perhaps the best approach is to do what you are likely to stick to and what you enjoy most.
After all, you can’t have a gain if you don’t actually put in the work.
Mandy Hagstrom Senior Lecturer, Physiology, Director of Teaching and Education, School of Health Sciences, UNSW Sydney

Mitchell GibbsLecturer, Exercise Physiology, School of Health Sciences, University of New South Wales Sydney

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