Tired of the same workout routine? Bringing variety and mixing up your workout remains a big challenge for both beginners and advanced exercisers. Creatures of habit we are, it is part of our human nature to resist bringing regular changes into our daily routines. However to attain long-term changes to your physical markers, such as weight loss or muscle definition, one needs to understand the danger and unwanted effects of routine and must therefore insert regular changes into your workout.

What is regular when it comes to changing routines?

Depending on your objectives and training type you need to mix up a workout routine more or less often. Someone preparing for a marathon doesn’t require as much change as someone who wants to increase body control such as a gymnast. A rule of thumb is to mix up or change your routine every 4 to 8 weeks.

How do I bring variety into my workout routine?

There are several ways you can mix up your routine. First of all you can change the exercise you use for each of the different muscle groups you train. So instead of doing bench dips or using a pulley to work your triceps you could start doing diamond push ups or (weighted) triceps dips on the dip machine.

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Another way to mix things up is to work with different loads varying intensity, repetitions, exercise and rest times. So for example during the last four weeks you have done 4 sets of 15 reps with 40 kg on the lat mach machine, taking a 45 second rest between each set. Now the next four weeks you could do 6 sets of 10 reps with 60 kg and a 60 second rest between each set. In order to work the muscle differently you can also slightly change your hand position on the bar (a centimeter inward or outward for example will have a different effect on the muscle which will respond positively). Again these are just examples of variables on how to mix up your workouts. Nonetheless, the way you mix up your workout strongly depends on your training objectives.

Are there any other benefits to mixing up your workout.

Apart from getting better results and stepping out of a boring routine, mixing up your workouts can help you prevent injury. A continuous repetitive strain on the body can cause the muscle tissue, tendons and joints to become strained by always doing the same movement. Apart from that it can create muscular imbalances that can lead to postural problems or repetitive strain injuries.

On a last note I would like to address the issue of preferred muscle group training. By genetic predisposition we each have our stronger and weaker muscle groups. Make sure you don’t forget about the importance to regularly train the weaker muscle groups even though you don’t see big results yet or you hate training that particular muscle group.