4 Signs It's Time to Change Your Workout RoutineWhat to Do When Your Workout Isn't Working for You
-- By Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer
When you started a regular exercise program, whether to lose weight or improve your overall health, your enthusiasm and motivation were high. Even though exercise wasn't the most exciting activity you had experienced, you began feeling better and seeing results from your hard work. You managed to get yourself out of bed early, to squeeze in a little gym time each day, and stick to your plan without much effort.
But then slowly, the novelty began to wear off. You started finding reasons to sleep in and found "better" things to do with your time. Then before you realized it, you had missed a whole week and your drive to continue was missing in action. Is this common scenario just another motivation issue? Probably not. Could something else be getting in the way of the excitement and effectiveness of your previously-rewarding workouts? The answer is yes! Luckily, you can learn to identify the signs that it's time to shake-up your workout routine so you can remain consistent and enthusiastic about exercise. Here are four of the most common signs and what you can do to get back on track:
Top 4 Signs Your Workout Isn't Working
1. Your workout bores you.
You used to like walking on the treadmill, so why do you dread your workout each day? It's easy to get bored if you stick with the same routine for too long. Sometimes it helps to add variety to your walks. For example, try taking your workout outside, adding speed intervals, putting new music on your iPod or bringing a friend along. If all of that isn't enough, then maybe it's time to try a new activity. Perhaps you've always wanted to try biking or are interested in a new class at your local gym. Change can help keep your workouts fun and interesting, giving you something to look forward to. And that is exactly what will keep you coming back for more.
2. Your workout isn't giving you results anymore.
Someone who does the same activity all the time is likely to plateau much sooner than someone who varies her workouts. Just as you can get bored by always doing the same exercises, your body can also adapt to these exercises so that they don't offer the same benefits that they once did. A little variety might be just the thing you need to get the scale moving again or bust through that strength plateau. "Variety" means either changing something about your current routine (adding speed, distance, hills, resistance, etc.) or trying a totally different activity. If you like some consistency and don't want to change your workout each time you hit the gym, change your routine at least every 4-8 weeks (this includes incorporating changes to both your cardio and strength training exercises). This will keep your muscles challenged, your body guessing, and the results coming!
3. Your workout leaves you more tired and sore than before.
Exercise should give you more energy, not leave you feeling rundown. If you're feeling overly tired or perpetually sore, you could be overtraining. Your body needs time for rest and recovery. It is during this down time that you build strength and endurance by allowing your muscles to rebuild and repair. If you don't give your body ample recovery time, you'll become weaker instead of stronger. If you have been overtraining, your first priority should be rest. You might need up to a week off to recharge mentally and physically. Once you are feeling better, start back slowly. Reevaluate your workout program and find ways to make changes that will prevent this from happening again.
4. Your workout is no longer challenging.
Running a 10-minute mile, for example, becomes easier as time goes on. If your workouts aren't challenging you anymore, it can be helpful to wear a heart rate monitor. Your heart rate will change over time as you become more fit. By using a heart rate monitor, you'll know to change up or intensify your routine, and ensure that you're working in your target heart rate zone. Challenging your body improves your fitness level and can also provide a sense of accomplishment as you become stronger and work toward your goals.
Changing your workout routine whenever these signs arise will help keep your motivation high as you work to improve your fitness level. The key is to pay close attention to how you're feeling both physically and mentally. Exercise shouldn't be a chore that you dread, but something that makes you feel good about yourself!