Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physical Fitness Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for physical fitness professionals, athletes, trainers, and those providing health-related needs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

From your experience are there any benefits of changing your workout regimen often? As in experiences in muscle growth or weight loss?

I usually get in 3-4 times a week to weight lift.

I'm pretty boring. I like to stick to the same muscle groups on a particular day. I like to by habit stick to some semblance of a routine.

However, it does get boring and i lose focus. Thanks in advance.

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

There's no complete agreement with continual change vs. progressive loading, and I think they have different focuses. The competing views are:

  • As soon as you change the amount you are lifting, your muscles are confused so why change?
  • Change routinely to confuse your muscles or keep from being bored.

Now, from one of the proponents of the first view point, a change in programming is eventually necessary but not for the same reasons as those who advocate continual change. I'm currently doing the Strong Lifts 5x5 program, and its creator Medhi is a proponent of the first viewpiont. In fact it's fairly common among most strength training programs (Pendlay 5x5, Star 5x5, Rippetoe, etc.). These programs tend to emphasize:

  • Low number of reps of high weight (starting at 5 sets of 5 reps, and eventually working down to 1 x 5)
  • Progressive loading, the challenge is to get your sets in with another 5-10lbs on the bar each session.
  • A small number of compound lifts such as squat, bench, rows for one day and squat, overhead press, and deadlifts for the alternate day. (actual combination of exercises is different between the programs but the concept is the same)
  • 3x per week with a full day of rest in between
  • Only when you've maxed out what you can do with a program do you deload and switch programs.

The opposing view seems to come from the body building community (although I am so new to this, that statement might be over simplified). The body building community tends to emphasize:

  • Higher number of reps of lower weight, emphasizing time under load
  • slower increases in weight
  • Isolation exercises or split workouts (i.e. upper body one day, lower body the next, etc.)
  • Potentially more frequent workouts (up to daily)
  • Routine program changes

Unfortunately I just don't know as much about the body building side of things. My focus is strength. For me, I don't get board because my time at the gym is relatively short (I get my routine done in less than an hour), and I'm continually challenging myself. There's a lot to think about just getting the form right. Additionally, the progressive loading really exposes problems in your technique pretty quickly.


What is Progressive Loading?

Just in case you are not familiar with the term, it is the concept of going up in weight every workout session. This is different than doing pyramids where you increase weight and decrease reps each set. As an example, I'll use the Strong Lifts 5x5 program to illustrate.

Session 1: A workout

  • 45lb squat 5x5
  • 45lb bench 5x5
  • 65lb BB row 5x5

Session 2: B workout

  • 50lb squat 5x5 (go up by 5lb on squats)
  • 45lb overhead press 5x5
  • 90lb deadlift 1x5

Session 3: A workout

  • 55lb squat 5x5 (go up by 5lb)
  • 50lb bench 5x5 (go up by 5lb)
  • 70lb BB row 5x5 (go up by 5lb)

Continue until you stall (i.e. can't get all 5 sets of 5 reps in). Deadlifts in the SL5x5 program are a little different than the others because you are starting at 1 set of 5 reps and you go up by 10lb each session.

In short in every session you increase weight. There are other strength programs where you increase much slower, but those are designed for advanced lifters who have already maxed out the gains from the beginner programs (like SL 5x5).

share|improve this answer
    
Rereading this, I think both camps have continual change. The strength training does it through progressive loading, and the body building does it through program changes. –  Berin Loritsch Jun 8 '11 at 13:34
    
Thanks for the very well formed answer. That's very interesting. I'm a bit confused as to what you call, "Progressive Loading". Could you elucidate? Do you mean gradually adding weight each set? –  chrisjlee Jun 8 '11 at 14:35
    
I'll include the definition of progressive loading in the answer. –  Berin Loritsch Jun 8 '11 at 14:49
    
Thanks. That seems to be what i was looking for. –  chrisjlee Jun 8 '11 at 20:34

I think you answered your own question - change to stay engaged. I've seeing articles stating that people should change every 10-12 weeks because their bodies adopt to the exercises - but if you have a complete plan, covering your body to meet your goals, there's no - physical reason (and many power builders stay with the same exercises for years). I feel that each workout should be an improvement over the last, increased intensity through weights, duration, etc....but the actual exercises could remain the same as long as they keep you engaged.

share|improve this answer
1  
Mens Health magazine had an article that said (paraphrasing) if you are doing the same thing you were doing 6 weeks ago, it's time to change it up. But, it depends on what you are working towards. –  Ryan Miller Jun 8 '11 at 13:18
1  
The same thing could be the same exercise or the same intensity... –  Meade Rubenstein Jun 8 '11 at 14:05

There is a finite number of exercises. The key is to change the order both of the exercises and the days in which you do the exercises. The more you mix and match, the better the overall results. Additionally, if you write down each workout and build a plan, it is more likely that you will stay more engaged mentally. You will be able to track your exercises, weight and see improvements.

For Example 4 Day workout 5 week block #1:

Day 1 - Chest Back Shoulders:

Flat Bench 5x10; Incline 3x10

Lat Pull Downs 5x10; Bent Over Rows 3x10

Military 3x10; Standing Side Lat Raises 3x10

Day 2 - Legs & Arms:

Squat 5x10; Stiff legged dead lifts 3x10 Standing Barbell 5x10; Preacher Dumbbell 3x10

Day 3 - Chest Back Shoulders

Incline DB Press 5x10; Pec Deck 3x10

Pull-ups 5x10(to failure); Seated Rows 3x10

Seated Dumbbell Press 5x10; Shrugs 3x10

Day 4 - Legs & Arms:

Leg Press Sled 5x10; Hamstring Curl Machine 3x10

Seated Dumbbell Curl 5x10; Standing Cable Curls 3x10

Block #2

Day 1 - Back & Arms:

Dead lifts 5x10; Bent over barbell 2x10; Stiff-legged Dead Lift 2x10

Day 2 - Chest & Shoulders:

Decline Bench 5x10; Incline Dumbbell Press 3x10

Seated Military 4x10; Standing Front Lat Raises 3x10; Upright Rows 3x10

Day 3 - Legs & Arms:

Squat 5x10; Leg Ext 3x10; Hamstring Curl Machine 3x10

Standing Dumbbell Curls 5x10; Seated Curl Machine 3x10

Day 4 - Back, Chest & Shoulders:

Super-set - Pullups 5x10 (To Failure); Dips 5x10 (To Failure); Pushups 5x10 (To Failure); Shrugs 5x10(To Failure)

share|improve this answer

If you are getting bored and losing focus, change it up somehow. You have over 600 muscles, surely if you are doing the same thing every time you are ignoring some in favor of others (though, to be fair, you're not exactly going to be exercising muscles like your cheek muscles or your tongue at the gym).

From my personal experience, cross-training improves your fitness level. I've heard a lot of explanations (most of which seemed only quasi-scientific) but I've noticed that if I run every day, my time and cardio fitness do not improve. If I run twice a week, lift weights twice, walk once and do yoga once, it improves rapidly and steadily, i.e., I can run faster, further and longer each time. I've found the same thing with lifting weights - instead of doing the same routine every time, or the typical A-B format each week (e.g., upper body on Monday, lower body on Thursday), if I do A-B for three weeks, then C-D for three weeks, then E-F(or whatever), I get stronger and more toned faster. (I don't mix it up every single time, like A-B then C-D then E-F, because it's a little overwhelming and it makes it harder to notice improvement, though there might be some.)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.