So how do you know it’s time to change up your workout routine? Well, simply stated, when you stop seeing results! We have all hit that dreaded “plateau” at some point during our fitness journey. No matter how hard you think you’re working, that scale just doesn’t seem to move and measurements are at a stand still. This alone can be game over for a lot of people who just don’t know how to break through it.
The secret to avoiding these plateaus is something called periodization. Changing up your workout routine on a regular basis helps prevent your muscles from adapting and will allow you to continue to progress. The occasional shock to your body will prevent the stagnation phase where your muscles simply stop responding to the constant stress you’re putting on them using the same types of workouts.
You can periodize your workouts by changing any of these variables:
- The number of reps and/or sets
- Amount of resistance
- Rest periods
- Exercises being used
- Order of exercises
- Speed of the exercise (tempo)
This not only holds true for the weight lifters out there. Periodizing your cardio workouts will also have a similar effect. If you’re used to low intensity steady state cardio, try switching it up with some HIIT or interval training (and vice versa). The goal is to never let your body get to that adaptation phase where your progress comes to a halt.
Here’s a basic example of a 6 week periodized lifting workout plan:
Week 1: 3 sets of 10-12 reps per exercise (moderate weight)
Week 2: 2 sets of 12-15 reps per exercise (lighter weight)
Week 3: 4 sets of 5-8 reps per exercise (heavy weight)
Week 4: 2 sets of 12-15 reps per exercise (lighter weight)
Week 5: 3 sets of 10-12 reps per exercise (moderate weight)
Week 6: 4 sets of 5-8 reps per exercise (heavy weight)