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Fitness Articles  ›  Pitfalls and Plateaus

4 Signs It's Time to Change Your Workout Routine

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

-- By Jen Mueller, Certified Personal Trainer
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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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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 a certified personal trainer, certified health coach and advanced health & fitness specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

  • 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
  • NDRALLIBOR
    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
  • This is just what I needed to read today! Exercising at home and being a wuss when it comes to Winter has me limited with what I do. Now, I have a much better understanding of what is happening here. Soon, with good weather and going outside I can REALLY change my exercise routines.

    For now...I will find some ways to shake it up and change it within my home. - 3/27/2009 11:06:44 AM
  • I am so guilty of all of these! I think the worst is routine. My trainer showed me what to do the first three days I joined a gym and I just did that exact routine over and over again. No wonder I didn't see results and ended up quitting the gym halfway through the year! Now I've started mixing it up and I've learned SO many new exercises that planning my workouts is actually pretty fun. - 3/27/2009 9:37:32 AM
  • SBATES63
    Motivation is one of the reasons I got a dog. She makes me go out for a good walk every morning, even when I would rather just sit and drink coffee. Thanks for the reminder to vary up the walk to keep the results coming. - 3/27/2009 7:14:53 AM
  • This is so true, especially the HRM comment. I tend to have mine on all the time now, just to make sure my pace is on track and I am keeping in check. - 9/16/2008 3:06:52 PM
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