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!

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!

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Member Comments

  • I get that mixing things up are good, but what I do works, so I am afraid to change the protocol. This is my Spark Coach challenge for today.
  • Be active any way you can, every day that you can.
  • great information
  • Thanks, I needed this.
  • I only have sign #1, so I am constantly looking to switch things up. I find routines in the video section very useful. They have long workouts and short workouts in every category and make working out fun and new every time. No matter what area you are looking to work on, check out the videos. They truly have something for everyone & are AMAZING!!!
  • ELRIDDICK
    Thanks for sharing
  • I saw that on YouTube with an instructor. I really liked the idea of changing the routine. Thank you so much for keeping the faith going.
  • MS_GODDESS
    Good ideas, but it's so hard for me just to be motivated to do anything - I really don't like to workout! I have things I enjoy doing (walking outside, treadmill, free weights) and I like the end results, but some days it's a real struggle to put on those sneakers and get to it. At least during the summer, I have lots of yard work - and this time of year those pine needles in my front yard and I have a showdown almost every weekend!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • TDA084
  • FOXGLOVE999
    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.
  • I always change up everyday. I like doing that so I don't get bored.

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.

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