As a rule of thumb you should change your workout routine every three to four months. You can choose various methods to go about it, methods such as: changing the number of reps (high versus low), changing exercises (bench press versus dumbbell press), changing days of the week that you work out, and doing HIT instead of steady cardio. All of these methods can, and should, be included when designing a new workout.
I have to admit that the last time I changed my workout was a while ago. So long that I forgot about the outcomes of changing a workout. I don’t talk about results though. Rather, I talk about aching muscles, feeling lethargic and an overall feeling of weakness. All of these symptoms are normal and should expected.
The first thing you need to understand is that these are positive signs. Signs that indicate that the change you made affected your body and forced it to adjust. This adjustment is what makes your muscles grow and fat to incinerate (on a side note, you need to take the term “muscle grow” very loosely. Muscles don’t grow that fast. Especially with a poor diet). With this in mind there are few rules you need to keep in mind:
Always listen to body
- Changing your workout is great. It makes you feel empowered, but as I mentioned earlier it can also make you feel tired. When this happens your body is signaling stress. Listen to your body and give yourself an extra day or two to recover. Remember that shifting into over-training can only result in negative consequences.
First week is the hardest
- I cannot stress this enough. Your body is in a transition mode. It’s adjusting to the new weight, exercises, routine and stress. It is important that you keep this in mind before getting demoralized and quitting your new routine. The first 10 days are your “adjusting period”. Make sure to listen to your body during this period.
Don’t over do it
- The older you are, the longer time it will take for your body to adjust (read: recover). Understand it, and accept it. The tendency of most untrained trainees is to jump head first into the pool without testing the depth of water first. Take it slow, and again listen to your body.
Not all changes work 100% the first time
- There is a good chance that the new workout you chose to follow is not the right workout for you. If after 10 days you still feel lethargic (and extra sore), you probably need to rethink your new routine. For example, reducing the number of sets or days you train during the week will be a good (and safe) start.
In sum, changing your workout is important, and by keeping these few rules in mind you can keep your body injury-free and enjoy a safe transition. On a personal note, I really enjoy the new routine I created. I did feel lethargic and sore during the first three days, but by listening to my body and taking a day off on the fourth day I now feel rejuvenated.