The science behind changing up your workout has a lot to do with improving strength and muscle tone -- something most people, no matter the fitness goal -- would like to achieve.
Phrases like “shock your muscles” and “keep your body guessing” have been floating around the gym for years, but just how much (and often) should we be mixing things up?
“There’s a common misconception that variety means a totally different exercise. You could do the same exercise but a different amount of repetitions -- or you could simply change your grip on how you are holding a weight -- it’s slight changes like these that really make the difference,” Mick Cunico, national fitness manager at Fitness First told The Huffington Post Australia.
Cunico explains the term given to this type of results-driven training is “progressive overload.”
“It’s the gradual increase of a training stimulus over a given amount of time and it’s what most trainers adopt when implementing a program for clients,” Cunico said.
This is particularly true for female clients whose goals may be to “tone up” without putting on any extra weight.
Of course individuals differ in the amount of time they need before tweaking their program, but if you’ve just started out at the gym Cunico said there’s no need to implement changes until the six-week mark.
“It’s worth looking at changing things up once progress has stagnated. If nothing is moving forward, it’s time to change,” Cunico said.
Though it’s not simply about increasing the size of weights you are lifting.
“It could mean squatting down deeper, taking a different foot position while doing a deadlift or if you’re endurance training, taking a time trial to achieve a personal record,” Cunico said.
In short, the key is to have a benchmark. Once that benchmark becomes too easy, it’s time to take on a new challenge. Other tools like a DEXA scan which reveals your body fat percentage is another way to measure and show progress.
Aside from being an effective way to train, Cunico said it is a good approach to take so as to ensure people don’t get bored of the same old workout.
“Getting to the gym three times a week can be a real challenge. The reality is we want people doing the type of exercise that keeps them engaged to ensure staying active becomes part of the their regular routine,” Cunico said.