He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery. ~Harold Wilson
This statement, although maybe a bit dramatic, applies as much to your workout program as it does to life. Once you reach certain stages and adaptations in your fitness level, change is mandatory in order to progress. If you neglect to make specific changes, you’ll find yourself at a standstill in your physique, athletic ability and body fat percentage. I see people all the time in the gym that are there for an hour or two, five times a week doing the same routine, same rep range, using the same effort and intensity, even the same equipment every workout. Five years down the road they look…you guessed it…EXACTLY the same! Now, I give them full marks for getting to the gym and actually picking up a weight or turning the treadmill on, however they will never see real results if they don’t force it upon themselves by mixing things up a bit.
The ability of the human body to adapt to it’s circumstances, stresses and surroundings is nothing short of magical. It is survival in it’s most pure and primal form. Physical adaptation in regards to workouts simply means that our bodies, whether we are referring to our muscles, our cardiovascular system, joints, ligaments or flexibility capacity will adapt to the specific demands placed upon them over a given period of time.
Once a level of adaptation is reached, we must place new or additional stresses upon ourselves in order to progress to a new level…the progressive overload principle. With each level of adaptation we must apply the principle of progressive overload in order to reach a new level and realize a new goal.
Determining how often to change your workout routine can be tricky and may depend on specific goals. The general rule here is to make changes when you feel you have plateaued or perhaps are about to plateau. If boredom in your routine strikes before this happens, change is due. For example if you have been doing straight leg deadlifts in your routine at a rep range of 10, with a 60 pound barbell and you begin finding that you could do 11 or 12 reps with the same weight, it’s time to progress to either a heavier weight with the same rep range, or maybe a different exercise that works the same muscle groups, or perhaps even a whole new rep/set scheme. The point is that something new must take place, plain and simple. A different, more intense effort must be placed upon the muscle or progress will come to a halt.
The same principle applies to all physical training whether your goal is hypertrophy, strength, cardiovascular endurance, power or flexibility. If your 5k run is getting too easy, switch to 6, or run the same route in less time. You could try adding sprint drills, cross training workouts or tempo runs. If the barbell squats are starting to feel lighter, increase your weight or try switching to split squats instead. No matter what your goal may be the point is to keep challenging your body in order to keep moving ahead. Use the progressive overload principle to achieve greater gains in your workouts and just as importantly to avoid boredom and monotony!Found this post useful and want more? Subscribe to our Blog feed
About TravisTravis Steffen is a Master Trainer and founder of WorkoutBOX. After years of experience training professional athletes and thousands of others just like you, he knows exactly what it takes to get you in serious shape. Follow his expert guidance and you're guaranteed to get amazing results.Want to hear even more of what Travis has to say? Keep in touch with him on Facebook and Twitter!
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