Switching up Your Workouts

by Stew Smith

Is your workout program getting old? Tired of the same weight training cycle, circuit routine, or cardio exercise? Many people get into a rut by repeating the same old plan week after week. Your body needs change in order to effectively stimulate muscle growth and caloric expenditure. So, if you're not sure how to change things, here are a few examples of how to change the most common exercise routines.

The most common weight lifting plan is a split routine where lifters will complete the following chart week after week:

Monday: Chest and Triceps

- Bench press
- Military press
- Triceps

Tuesday: Back / Biceps and Legs

- Pull-ups
- Pull-downs
- Squats
- Leg extension
- Leg curls
- Bicep curls

Wednesday: Cardio Option Day

- Usually bike or treadmill for 30-40 minutes

Thursday: Repeat

Repeat Monday

Friday: Leg Day

- Squats
- Leg ext
- Leg press
- Leg curls

Saturday: Back and Biceps

- Pullups
- Pulldowns rows
- Curls

This plan is fine for a few weeks, but repeating the same exercises over and over without change can actually slow down growth no matter how hard you exercise. If you are a lifter, add calisthenics into your workout to maximize burnout immediately after lifts such as:

After each set of bench press - try a max set of pushups. After a set of military press - try a Lightweight Shoulder workout as mentioned in "The Best Shoulder Workout" article.

On leg day, try a short (3-5:00) cardio routine of biking at high levels of resistance in between sets of squats and leg press exercises.

Another great way to change the routine is mix days together like: Do all upperbody one day - chest, triceps, shoulder, back and biceps. Legs can be done mixed with cardio on the other days like this: Sprint 100m followed by squats, lunges and heel raises. Repeat that several times for a cardio and leg workout like no other.

The Same Old Circuit Routine

Many circuit programs are popular in gyms these days. Circuit training refers to a group of machines or calisthenics exercises repeated back to back with very little rest time in between exercises. The goal is to get as much completed in a short period of time so you completely work all your major muscle groups. These are very effective in building lean muscle mass and creating a cardiovascular component to your lifting routine. However, the same exercises in the same order week after week can limit the positive affects of building lean muscle mass and increasing your metabolic rate. Simply change the order of your routine or try lighter weight with more repetitions. Doing your repetitions super-slow is a great option to do weekly. Each repetition will take 20 seconds - 10 seconds up, 10 seconds down. This is tough to do. Also add crunches in between each exercise or jumping jacks to spice up the circuit. Check out the "Circuit Training" article for more tips.

The Same Old Cardio Routine

Many people will go to the gym, hop on a treadmill, bike or elliptical glider for 45:00 a day several days a week - week after week. This can get boring and your body can get used to the similar exertion level and actually not burn calories as efficiently after several weeks of the same routine. Spice it up with some intervals - where you speed up the pace for 1-2 minutes and slow it back down to an easy pace to catch your breath for a 1-2 minute period. Check out the "Interval Training" article for more ideas.

Instead of just one machine for an hour - try all three - Bike, Elliptical, or treadmill for 20:00 each - resting with an abdominal routine in between each 20:00 set. Check out the "Resting with Crunches" article for better ideas to mix abs with cardio workouts.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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