When (and How!) to Shake Up Your Fitness Routine


Muscles are much like anything else in life: They respond to change. Your body creates muscle and burns fat by responding to new stimuli, and when you change that stimuli, your body is forced to adapt (read: change). It will always try to find a way to use less energy—which is why when you get fitter, things feel easier. Your body gets more efficient the fitter you get. So if you want to see new muscle, more muscle, or burn more fat, you’ll need to shake up your routine. Of course, if you change too frequently, your body won’t be able to adapt, so also just like life: Timing can be everything.

If you’re new to exercise, you’ll need to build a base. Generally speaking, you should follow the same program for at least six weeks, to build a fitness foundation. And if you’re a workout regular, it’s also a good idea to continue to change in terms of intensity and volume every six to eight weeks—or when you reach a plateau.

There is also something to be said for adding variety to your workouts. For example, you can follow a strength workout for six weeks, but do yoga, hike, bike, or find other activities that challenge your muscles in different ways on off days.

Adding variety delivers a mental refresher and prevents burnout. Let’s face it: Doing the same thing day in and day out can get boring—and boredom is often the first stop on the way to giving up on an exercise regimen. This isn’t just anecdotal; a University of Florida study found that you’re more likely to stick to your exercise routine if you incorporate some variety than if you do the same things over and over. So be sure to spice it up.

An additional benefit of varied exercise is that you can avoid overuse injuries and issues like tendonitis (swelling of the tendons) by constantly changing up the type and mode of exercise.

The bottom line is to listen to your body, and know your goals. If you’re looking for changes in your physique or performance, you don’t necessarily have to become a complete exercise tourist. Try varying your workouts within the same exercise mode. For example, if you’re strength training, try using dumbbells instead of barbells, cables instead of your bodyweight, or an incline instead of a flat surface to challenge similar muscles in slightly different ways. You can also vary your reps: Use high reps and lighter weights instead of lower reps and heavier weights. The choice is yours.

18 Comments   Join the Conversation

18 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Great information. Starting a group exercise where I work and getting set up. I can share the specific 6-8 weeks foundation and change up to help us stay focused and motivated. Thank you

  • Excellent advice…Muscles develop a “memory” just like recharging a battery–to change that, you have to change the type/quality/intensity of your activity. One more HUGE thing –DRINK WATER when you exercise (make sure you are hydrated BEFORE you start as well)

  • I’m actually in the middle of this as we speak. A personal trainer at my gym told me my current strength training program was geared more towards body building rather than fat loss (which is my goal). I’ve been trying to experiment with super sets and plyometrics even though I’m limited in that aspect. Great article and right on time.

  • Its not just about changing up what you do in a particular session, but also on different days. Your body will soon get used to e.g. spin on Monday, HIIT on Tuesday, pilates on Wednesday, HIIT on Thursday, swimming on Friday, rest Saturday, yoga Sunday. You need to change this up too to keep getting results. But the best exercise of all is the one you will do and do consistently!

  • I work out everyday, and to be honest, I see no change in losing weight or inches when I switch exercise routines. I am 45.

  • How can I make exercise exciting when I am training alone at home. I have just joined a gym class twice a week and i am loving it. Are there ideas i can implement when i am training alone to make my routine exciting?

  • Great and accurate information! I teach a cardio strength class every week and always mix up the format, equipment reps, etc
    The class loves it

  • Hi, I’m 41,I need to loses few kg, but the problem is that I start loosing wait from up to down the body! First from my face, neck and chest….and before it comes to the most troubled parts like tummy and thighs,my face is all wrinkled!!! Please help me.i basically need to trim and tone my tummy and thighs,and loose 4kgs .thanks

If you have questions about a Fitbit tracker, product availability, or the status of your order, contact our Support Team or search the Fitbit Community for answers.

Please note: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately after submission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *