A common question that probably goes through your head is how often to change workout routine. There are a variety of reasons as to why you might like to change your workout routine, but I’d like to go further and say that you absolutely need to change your workout routine after a certain amount of time. Even by switching up little things, you can provide your body with a great muscle confusion workout.
What is Muscle Confusion?
Muscle confusion involves changing workout routines in order to prevent your body from fully adapting to particular motions. The point of muscle confusion is to prevent plateaus. That being said, changing routines too often could impair muscle growth as well.
How to Implement a Muscle Confusion Workout
Muscle confusion is really as simple as changing some aspect of your workout routine. You could change the number of sets and reps you do, change the amount of rest time between sets, change the order of exercises, or change the exercises altogether. The key to a proper muscle confusion workout is progressive overload. Your body needs to continue to work harder in some way; otherwise your muscles will not continue to grow.
Reasons for Changing Workout Routines
Aside from reaching a plateau, there are other reasons to consider changing your workout routine:
- Boredom: chances are that you will get bored if you repeat the same exercises week after week without making some changes. A new routine can be very refreshing.
- Lack of challenge: as opposed to a plateau, you could reach a point where your workout is just too easy for you. For example, once you can do 100 pushups, you might want to consider changing your routine so that your chest and arms get a better workout.
- Overtraining: just like reaching a plateau, if you perform a really high intensity workout for too long, you risk burning out and seeing decreases in your lifts.
How Often to Change Workout Routines
I personally think every 4-8 weeks is the optimal amount of time to change workout routines. This gives your body enough time to get biomechanically efficient at a particular exercise. This is important because it takes more energy (calories) to perform an exercise if you are less efficient at it. Once you become efficient, it takes less effort and energy to perform the same motion, thereby burning fewer calories.
Conversely, 4 weeks is ample time to see if you are making progress with your workouts and whether your muscles are growing. Additionally, if after 8 weeks you are still making great gains with your workout, then keep going. There’s no reason to change just to change.
In addition to changing workout routines, you should give your body ample time to rest and recover. I like to take 3-4 days off every 6 weeks and a full week off every 12 weeks. You should also consider taking extra days off if you find that your lifts are declining or if your body feels too physically tired to handle your regular workload.
Don’t “Overconfuse” Your Muscles
The bottom line answer to the question of how often to change workout routine is that you should switch after a reasonable amount of time in which your progress seems to be slowing. Some workout routines recommend never repeating a workout. I disagree with this philosophy. In my view, it’s the process of becoming more efficient at exercising through progressive overload that helps build muscles and burn fat. Once those efficiencies decline after 4-8 weeks, then it is time to implement a muscle confusion workout and change some aspect of your routine.