Should I change workout routine? If yes, then when and how often? These two questions are the most popular among professional athletes. Everyone has a different point of view regarding this matter. Majority of sportsmen assumes that changes in workout routine are required due to human nature. Human body has an adaptive structure, which gets easily used to certain type of workout routine. For example, delayed onset muscle soreness decreases as body gets used to highly intensive workouts.
Relationship between workout efficiency and body’s ability to adaptation is inversely proportional. The more muscles get used to set tasks, the stronger is decrease in productivity. Thus, sportsmen face phenomenon called «training plateau», that is, absence of changes as a response to certain physical loading. This is a time to look for new solutions.
Three Reasons to Change Workout Routine
There are few mental and physical reasons influencing a decision to change workout routine:
- Adaptation of the organism and decrease in the workout efficiency based on the following principle: active phase, stability of the results, stagnation or a “training plateau” when an athlete does not reach a progressive result;
- Aiming the workout routine at using specific muscle groups as a change of workout routine ensures a comprehensive workout and balanced formation of well-developed body;
- Adaptation of the central nervous system to workout as the same routine ultimately becomes boring and familiar, and it nullifies the potency of motivational training and results in reduced performance. These changes ensure psycho-emotional and physical shock of the human body motivating it to achievement of new goals and a shift from a standstill.
Adaptation is a cornerstone when it comes to changes in workout routine. When changing a routine, working weights, an amount of sets, etc., muscles face an unknown load. This creates a time interval during which there is a gradual habituation to the tasks. This period is a time for receipt of the maximum muscle response and achievement of the maximum results.
As sportsman becomes accustomed to the new exercise program, workout efficiency begins to decline gradually requiring a change in the original characteristics and a type of routine. The contractile fibers actively adapt and “refuse” to progress in comfortable/familiar environment.
Frequency of Changes in Workout Routine
Regular change of exercises is a key to success.
It is obvious that changes should be introduced into workout routine as human body tends to adapt to the same type of exercises. The main question is how often should the changes be done. There are few popular points of view regarding this matter:
- Changes in routine should be done 6 to 8 weeks after incorporation of regular routine;
- Changes in routine should be done 3 to 4 months after incorporation of regular routine;
- Changes in routine should be done 4 to 6 months after incorporation of regular routine;
Such a time difference is due to individual features of human body and the state of health of a sportsman. First 2 to 4 weeks are considered the most stressful ones. This is a period when muscles undergo active changes. Then workout routine becomes less efficient during next 5 to 8 weeks. After 8 weeks, further development of muscles requires completion of new tasks which differ from the usual ones.
Muscular system of the beginners is characterized by the weak neuromuscular connections, a formation of which has just begun at the initial stage of training. Experienced athletes and professionals have the muscles, which adapt much faster to the loads. This explains a shorter period of efficiency of the new workout routine.
The determining factor in the change of workout routine is a performance indicator, that is, an increase in muscle mass or decrease in the subcutaneous fat layer depending on a task given. If the training efficiency has started to decrease, there is no a progressive growth of a muscle mass and subcutaneous fat layer keeps accumulating, it’s time to think about introducing the changes into a training program. At that, a new workout routine should be goal-oriented, one should work on losing weight as well as aiming towards muscle growth and increase in strength and endurance.
Diversity is the Main Enemy of a «Training Plateau»
An extent of introduced changes depends on the fitness level of an athlete and set tasks:
- Full or partial substitution of the workout routine. Beginners and unprofessional sportsmen should favor partial changes in the workout routine. At that, routine should include basic exercises and changes should concern with certain exercises.
- Change in order and amount of training days. Training process requires changes and that’s how it usually is. It should happen so because even insignificant changes in frequency of workouts per week and their focus, that is, having three workouts instead of four or training legs+back instead of back+biceps, jogging before and after workout and alternating exercises during circuit training can help to overcome a «plateau» and achieve new results.
- Change in weights, amount and quality of sets. Muscles can be shaken not only when working with heavy weights, but also by changing the qualitative parameters such as sets and their repetitions as well as a time given for rest in between. Joining the same exercises with usual weights into supersets ensures the same effect.
Conclusion: there is a need to introduce changes to workout routine due to wish to achieve better results when it comes to working weights, muscle gain and development of the power and stamina as well as decrease in percentage of the subcutaneous fat.