Changing Your Workout Routine

Q:I have a question about changing my workout routine. Is it best to change my workout every time I go to the gym? Or should I stick with the routine I’ve been using that seems to deliver results?

A: One of the finer arts of bodybuilding is sifting through the numerous exercises and techniques. This is how you find what works best for you. On one hand, you’re grateful to have finally put together a winning routine. You’re reluctant to mess it up. On the other hand, you know that variety is what makes training fun. No to mention, it helps keep your muscles growing. So why not do both?

Changing Your Workout Routine – The Best Of Both Worlds

Of course, you can’t strictly do both. But with a little give and take, maybe you can have the best of both worlds. Start by keeping your time-tested routine. It will form the backbone of your new program. Next, make a subtle change. This can be the resistance, number of reps or the exercise order. Now you have your new routine! Except it’s your old routine with a twist.

Here’s a summary of the changes you on can make to keep your workouts fresh while maintaining or even increasing their effectiveness.

Changing Your Workout Routine

REPS & RESISTANCE

Try going ultra-heavy once in a while to shock your muscles. Keep the reps in the 3-6 range and don’t forget to rest a little longer between sets. On the other side of the spectrum, lighten the load occasionally and bump up the reps to 12-21. The change will be refreshing and your tired body will welcome the reduced load. Whether you go heavy or light, your training volume should stay about the same (volume = reps x weight).

MOVEMENT ANGLE

Changing your workout routine can mean small angle variations. The muscle is stressed from a different angle. It can make a tremendous difference in the way it responds. You may think you’re simply moving the bench a few degrees when you do your bench press at a slight incline. However, your pecs believe that you’ve discovered a new exercise. Your chest will be stimulated in a new way. It will be forced to contract somewhat differently than what it’s accustomed to. You can change your foot placement, grip width or bench angle. Or, you can substitute a cable exercise for the free-weight version. Modest changes give way to more significant changes in growth.

EXERCISE ORDER

Changing your workout routine can be as simple as changing the order of your exercises. It’s not a big change. After all, you’re using the same movements and doing the same amount of work. Yet it does change the way in which your muscles fatigue. This stresses them in a different way. If you always do bench presses first, then you’re somewhat weaker on your successive exercises. Do inclines first next time. This is probably the quickest and easiest way to change your routine. At least without making significant modifications.

The techniques presented here are advanced. If you haven’t been training long, changing your workout routine should be limited to adding weight to the bar. You need to build a foundation of strength and size. Step one in that process is increasing weight. This is called progressive overload. Do that, then you can change things up as much as you want.

If you’re changing your workout routine, you can probably come up with other ways without changing the underlying framework. Be creative in developing new workouts and always remember to make training fun.

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