Fitness Articles

4 Signs It's Time to Change Your Workout Routine

What to Do When Your Workout Isn't Working for You

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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!
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • I at least change my routine with the seasons. I've been walking this spring, and in a few weeks can start some gardening. Summer will bring lots of swimming in the lake (my favorite!!!). Then leaf raking and more walking in the fall. If the lake freezes nice and smooth, I can ice skate for a time in the winter, or cross country ski or just walk in the snow. I do love the seasons here in Minnesota! - 3/31/2016 1:38:51 AM
  • I truely know when exercising benefits me but I can do a lot when I exercise with someone else. I truely need yo get a exercise partner. - 9/13/2015 11:00:23 PM
  • TDA084
    plain bull... - 12/21/2014 4:04:59 AM
    While I understand changing your exercise routine to increase weight loss, etc., it's not that simple. I walk 5 miles a day in the hills with my dog. He would be very upset if we didn't go. And it is our routine, changing a routine can derail the whole thing. Better the same exercise everyday than no exercise. - 10/7/2014 3:22:53 PM
  • I always change up everyday. I like doing that so I don't get bored. - 6/3/2013 3:33:22 PM
  • I will change up every week that way it will be a new adventure every week that should be enough to keep me going. I hope. - 10/17/2012 8:38:05 PM
  • These are all god suggestions...I just wish I could motivate to get started!!! I don't have ANY enthusiasm for exercise. I know INTELLECTUALLY why I should do it, but I...JUST...DON'T! - 7/23/2012 7:59:36 PM
  • I will be changing up my routine. - 5/9/2012 10:48:07 AM
  • very helpful to me once I hit a plateau. - 1/30/2011 5:30:38 AM
  • Really enjoyed this article. I like the balance - overtraining is REAL! We keep thinking if we just push harder, we'll break through a plateau when in fact we may be sliding backward (and risking injury).
    I need LOTS of variety, and to be held accountable. So I rarely repeat the same exercise every day - I'm taking a chi running clinic, a tai chi class, training for a half marathon, biking, and dancing whenever possible. Variety is why I loved triathlon so much - I felt great doing sprint distances (not confident enough in the swim to do Olympic or Ironman distances) and rarely had an injury because of the crosstraining! Just TRI it! - 9/26/2010 12:07:53 PM
  • Get a dog! No matter what the weather or how I'm feeling she still needs walking. I change my route and how long we walk for to stop getting bored and frequently meet others in the dog community and chat away as we walk. I have a pedometer which measures aroebic steps, total steps, calories and distance and keeps me on track. I know I never stick at any other exercise but my dog is reliant on me for her needs and that motivates me every day no matter what. - 3/25/2010 7:18:58 AM
  • I started with curves early March 2009 by the beginning april I had added elliptical training, and that sure gets me fired up sweaty and red and now I have added an extra hour daily between 30 mins on the elliptical extra (as it was getting easy) Having just been weighed and measured, I find that I lost 11 inches but only 4 lbs in weight (that part WAS disappointing) so am now adding in a mountain bike too. Well that is coming this week. Quite fancy an hour's ride and can take in the views around where I live too. (Scotland) UK

    To motivate and help stop the boredom I play cds of very fast music - I adore santana so usually play those cds. anything fast and racey with a decent beat would do it. - 4/19/2009 9:40:36 AM
  • I have been going to Curves for one year now. Have been fiting to get the last 10 lbs off. I stopped going for a while and did a four week boot camp that we really tough, but very expensive and missed several classes since I suffer insomonia and the class was at 06:00. That ended March 11th. Now it's April 7th, I went to Curves today. I hope that this break from that routine and now going back will restart my muscels and metabolism. On a good note, I weighed in and measured today. Same weight as a couple of months ago, no big gains in inches anywhere, but I did lose 1" in the waist and .5" in bicep. Does anyone know if this break will help me? - 4/7/2009 8:26:10 AM
  • How ironic I read this when just yesterday I bloged about how my body had b/c 'comfortable' with running 2hrs, yet when I biked 45min I was red & hot! Haven't biked much lately. Need to chop it up a bit. - 3/29/2009 4:05:44 AM
    I watch DVD's on one of those small DVD players while on the elliptical; the time goes by quickly. I have also watched it while on a recumbent bike. Depending on the design of your cardio machine, you could watch it on just about any machine by securing the DVD player with a bungee cord. Start watching a whole season of a TV show and only allow yourself to watch when exercising! - 3/27/2009 11:32:28 AM

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