How often do you suggest changing your weight routine?

Question: How often do you suggest changing your weight routine so muscles don’t get too used to the heaviness and motion?

This question was asked on Twitter by @tenaj81 and you should all follow her.

Answer: To respond to this question in Twitter’s requirement of 140 characters or less was pretty much impossible, so I decided to dedicate a full article as an answer.

Many people ask me for weight training advice, which is a good sign because more and more people are realizing the value of building a solid foundation of strength. However, my view of weight training typically does not reflect what the average Personal Trainer or Coach might say. When I think of weightlifting, I see many athletes dedicating way too much time in the weight room, often splurging large amounts of money on supplements and protein powders to churn through their bodies, all because some bodybuilding guru told them to. My advice? DON’T DO THIS!

Personally, I’ve had a difficult time developing and adhering to a weightlifting regime. I had a solid workout plan while on deployment aboard a ship in the Persian Gulf, but in my civilian life, I get bored while lifting. I mean REALLY bored. I’m sure there are many athletes out there who would agree with me that doing the same lifting routines over and over do little to stimulate the imagination.

The truth is, weight training can take different paths for different people depending on their fitness goals and physical conditions. If you want to pump yourself full of powders and supplements while following a textbook weightlifting plan, go for it. But good luck sticking with it in the long run.

I have found that the secret to a solid weight training plan that gets you results AND doesn’t make you bored is by using a system called periodization. What is periodization? It is the act of building progressively on your workouts. If you have a 6-week long workout routine, periodization dictates that each week, you should increase the intensity and/or reps by about 10% of what you were doing the previous week. By building on your foundation, you make gradual improvements that lower your injury risk and increase your overall performance since your muscles are constantly being challenged. This also prevents boredom.

Your routine should change somewhat frequently. Typically, 4-5 week long training routines are long enough to keep your fitness levels from flatlining (or ceasing to see improvements).

To address the other half of the question regarding heavy weights with low reps, or vice-versa, my answer is both will work, depending on your goals. Remember that heavier weight with fewer reps will increase strength and muscle size, whereas lighter weights with more reps result in endurance and less bulky muscle. If you’re a male and/or over the age of 40, you’ll likely want to go with the heavier weights to increase muscle strength and bone density.

In sum, take a good look at your fitness goals and create a strength training workout plan that will get you closer to them. As long as you have some sort of strength training incorporated in your routine, you will be good to go!

So Janet, I hope this answered your question. But, if anyone else has a question that needs to be answered ASAP, send me a message, leave a comment below, or post it on our Facebook page (facebook.com/triguycoaching).

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