Change Things In The Gym To Keep Making Progress

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change-imageHow often do you change your workouts? I usually change what I’m doing with new workouts on the first of every month. A month gives me time to figure out what’s working and what’s not but it’s not so long that my body gets used to it. I change the exercises that I do, the number of reps, the number of sets, or some other variable. Changing things is good for the body and it prevents boredom. Since I rarely do cardio, all of my resistance workouts involve supersets or mini circuits.

These are back to back exercises performed without rest in between. For example, one set of bicep curls and immediately one set of tricep kickbacks and then rest. Repeat this combo a few more times before moving to the next superset. Doing a group of exercises and resting at the end tends to keep your heart rate up much like cardio. I love supersets. It’s a great way to combine the best of both cardio and resistance training, and also to save time in a busy schedule.

Because your heart rate stays high, it can be a pretty intense workout. In addition to changing exercises, sets and reps, it’s also important to change the intensity of your workout every now and then. That’s the one variable that I haven’t changed up… at all. Lately I’ve been noticing that I haven’t been making as much progress as before. I’ve been getting aches and stiffness. I finish my workouts and I’m exhausted but it’s more of a total body exhaustion instead of a specific muscle group exhaustion. I haven’t noticed any changes in my progress pictures lately either.

Always listen to what your body is telling you. I decided that it was time to change things up and approach my workouts differently. Last week I laid out a new program for the next couple months that’s turning out to be a different kind of challenge but has been surprisingly fun. I’ve dropped all circuits from my workouts (gasp!) and put together more of a traditional lifting program. I now do all sets of a single exercise and rest between sets before moving to the next exercise. A nice break from supersets.

The change has been incredible so far. Because my heart rate is staying lower and I have more recovery time between sets, I’ve been able to lift heavier weights again and I feel stronger. For the first time in ages, I’ve finished my workouts shaking in the muscles I’ve worked instead of feeling tired all over. I also decided to think beyond some of the exercises that I’ve always done and am trying some new ones – rack pulls and hack squats.

Psssst, a little tip about rack pulls. They make so much noise in the gym that you’re mortified and get them done without noticing just how heavy the bar is. 😉 It’s funny how a little change can make so much of a difference in how you feel. I’m more sore than I’ve been in quite a while but I feel like superman and count the minutes until gym time.

If you’ve been doing the same workouts for a while and aren’t seeing the results you want, you may want to think about a different approach. If you do straight sets of an exercise, try supersets or circuits. If you lift for reps, try lifting for time. If you’ve been hitting the gym hard for quite a while, maybe try lowering the intensity. You could even try a new class at the gym to give yourself a mental break. I’ve still got zumba on my list to try this year.

A change will do you good. It’s my theme of the year and I’d say I’m doing pretty good so far. Now I need to take progress pictures so I can see what happens in the next couple months. When is the last time you changed your workout?

Comments

  1. Great advice. In fact, to demonstrate how important this is, most god trainers change up their clients workouts every time they train them.
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    Mike recently posted..Back Exercises for MenMy Profile

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