5 Signs You Need to Change Your Exercise Routine
You No Longer Feel the Challenge
Exercise shouldn’t feel too easy unless you’re doing it to relax. If you’re trying to get results, you need some challenge. When you start working out, your body isn’t accustomed to the movements you’re doing. The exercises feel like a challenge and this forces your muscles to adapt and become stronger. But if you keep doing the same movements in the same way, the movements begin to feel easier. That’s because you’ve become stronger or developed greater endurance. At that point, you need to work your muscles a little harder to continue to make gains. That’s why using progressive overload (adding more weight, volume, or using more advanced techniques) is so important. It gives your muscles a new stimulus and challenge that causes them to further adapt. Even if you use progressive overload, there may come a point where you need to add different exercises or revamp your workout to make it challenging again.
Your Heart Rate Isn’t Rising Enough
When you first launch into an aerobic training program, you might notice that your heart rate climbs quickly to the point where you get cardiovascular benefits. But if you keep doing the same routine at the same intensity, your heart rate doesn’t rise as much during a workout. That’s because your heart has become a more efficient pump and your cardiovascular fitness has improved. On the downside, unless you add more intensity, it will be hard to make further gains in aerobic fitness. Therefore, you must up the intensity of your training sessions. If you run or cycle, pick up the pace and add some hills, but be sure to track your heart rate to see how your cardiovascular system responds to these changes.
You’re No Longer Getting Results
It’s not uncommon for people to lift weights for a while and see changes in the beginning. In response to training, they become stronger and their muscles increase in size. But sometimes those changes come to a dead halt after a few months. You’re frustrated to find that you’re no longer experiencing gains in strength or changes in body composition. If that’s the case, it’s time to make your routine more challenging by lifting heavier weights, by increasing the number of repetitions, or by adding more sets. You can also introduce more advanced training techniques like supersets to challenge your muscles in a different way.
You Don’t Feel as Motivated
Lack of motivation is a sign you need to change your exercise routine too, if only to fire yourself up again. If you’ve lost the passion, you won’t give your workouts your best shot and won’t be as successful in the long run. If you’re skipping more and more workouts because you aren’t as excited about your workout as you used to be, it’s time to make some changes!
Are you bored with the type of workout you’re doing or do you simply not feel challenged anymore? If the latter is the case, you may only need to increase the intensity of your current workout so you feel more challenged. If the added intensity doesn’t help you get your mojo back, it may be time to completely change your approach. For example, you could take a break from lifting dumbbells and switch to barbells, resistance bands, or do bodyweight exercises. You could also add new exercises to your routine. Sometimes changing only a few exercises is enough to reignite your passion for exercise and give you new motivation.
You Have Different Goals
Sometimes you need to revamp your workout because your goals have changed. For example, you lifted heavy weights for months to get stronger and now you’d like to lose body fat and get leaner. In that case, you could replace a portion of your heavy strength lifts with high-intensity interval training or moderate-intensity cardio to burn more calories. When your goals change, so should your workouts. That’s the beauty of exercising: there are so many ways to do it and so many paths to getting fitter and stronger.
The Bottom Line
Don’t let yourself get too locked into a workout that you’re unwilling to make minor changes or completely redo your workout. Keep a fitness journal so you can track your goals and results and see whether you’re meeting them or stalling. You might also need to change your fitness routine if your current workout becomes mentally stale. Otherwise, your brain will help you find excuses not to work out.
PsychologyToday.com. “Study Identifies No. 1 Source of Motivation to Exercise More”
100 Questions and Answers about Sports, Nutrition, and Exercise. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 2011.