How Often Should Resistance Training Routines Be Changed?
If you are strength training consistently, it’s important to continuously push your body in order to see progress on an ongoing basis.
James MA Nicholson, ACE Fitness Trainer and Founder of Evolved-Fitness uses a four-week switchover protocol with his clients. “Depending on a person’s fitness goals, you want to make adjustments every month to keep progressing,” he said. The body is quick to adapt to movements and changing the routine. Every month shocks the body and helps burn more calories, which supports muscle growth and weight loss. “If you are changing things up and maximizing the neurological and muscular systems, you will also maximize caloric burn.”
Nicholson shared a few tips for changing your weightlifting routine.
What Are the Benefits?
- Lower risk of injury: By working out different parts of the body a person can minimize the risk of injury to one muscle or muscle group because of overuse.
- Create balance: Changing the muscles you use and the way in which you work them each month helps balance the different parts of the body. “You don’t want to see a developed upper body and underdeveloped lower body,” said Nicholson. “If you are changing your workout every four weeks, then you are developing a more even muscle composition,” he continued.
- Build skills: As you progress each month new skills are built, which helps you get stronger and able to move more fluently.
How to Make Changes
- Vary the movements: Once you’ve trained a specific muscle group a certain way, change the exercises so you are working the muscle differently. For example, instead of doing bench presses, which engage shoulders, chest, triceps, and back stabilizing muscles, try dips to train those muscles differently.
- Increase the intensity: One way to up intensity is to do the workout more efficiently. In other words, if it takes you one hour to complete a strength training routine in the first week of a four-week cycle, try to complete the workout in 45 minutes in the fourth week. Give yourself less rest in between sets.
- Lift heavier weights or change the repetitions: Adjustments can be made easily by increasing the weight being lifted by two to five percent, for example. You can also change the number of repetitions or order in which you do the exercises. Keep in mind, if you can do three or four sets of eight to 12 repetitions easily, it’s time to increase the intensity.
What to Consider
If you’ve been following a resistance training program for a while and not seeing progress, it may be time to adjust your workout. As humans, we need to move all the time and be able to move in different directions for everyday living. Nicholson said not to change strength training routines too often, however. “If you change it up too much, there’s not enough time for the person to become fluent with the movements, which could increase the risk of injury.”