As a trainer you come across many different people, and many different goals. The one thing I have heard numerous times was “Can you write me something I can do to keep me fit?”. To which my answer is, “certainly I can write something up and go over it with you, but there are a couple challenges”. The first challenge I explain to them is that there’s a good chance you’re not going to remember what I show you, so going over it once may not be your best option. The second challenge is that this workout will not be effective for more than a month or two. At this point I normally get a blank look, followed by the question “what do you mean?”. While there are inherent challenges with changing your workout routine every time you exercise, your program should be changed at minimum every 4-8 weeks (depending on the source your read).
So the three reasons to change your workout routine are:
Prevention of Overuse Injuries or RSI’s
The likelihood of developing RSI’s are repetitive stress injuries or overuse injury can be reduced by changing your program routinely. While many overuse injuries are caused from not enough rest between bouts of exercise, or form errors, some are caused by an imbalance of strength and flexibility surrounding a joint. Such imbalances are more likely or even inevitable when the same program is used indefinitely. Common overuse injuries associated with this imbalance are tendonitis, and bursitis. So new routines with variation in tempo, movement, and muscle group focus, as well as incorporating specific stretches to the routine can help ensure that the muscles and joints and connective tissue receives various forms of stress which helps maintain a balance of strength and flexibility throughout the body.
Prevention of Muscle Accommodation
Muscle accommodation refers to the nature of how muscles adapt. Muscles adapt to the stress placed on them, but they adapt only as far as is required. So when you begin a new routine your body will adapt best for the first 4-8 weeks. After that marginal increases may continue but they will begin to slow down. So a better approach than performing the same program until progress stops, is to start a new program when progress slows. This is why most exercise sources an studies indicate that ideally workout programs should be changed every 4-8 weeks.
This probably goes without saying. However, if you’re bored with a program you become less likely to perform it, or put your best effort into it, simple as that. The mind, body, and soul are hopelessly entwined. Study after study show the connection between the mind, emotional status, and performance. So having your “head in the game” is as much a reason for changing your program as is fostering physical progress. I’m not suggesting being bored is an appropriate excuse for not working out. I am suggesting however, that if you’re getting bored, changing it may help keep you engaged and prevent you from skipping workouts.