Every two months.
Wouldn’t it be great if the answer were really this simple? There’s actually much more to this question, however.
While it is true that I change my workout regimen approximately every two to three months, it’s important to remember that this is what works for me. Your goals and needs are likely different than mine. You should take into account how often you workout, the length and intensity of your sessions, and unique characteristics of your body.
Of course this assumes you follow a plan in the first place. To those that don’t, I offer one simple question: Would you hop in your car for a cross-country drive without having any idea of how to get there? But I digress…
Assuming you have a plan, changing it on a regular basis, even slightly, is important. Variety is a critical part of any effective fitness program. Variety applies not just to the individual exercises you perform (push-ups vs. bench press, for example), but also to the types of exercises as well. Cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility are the major components of any complete fitness plan. Be sure to include each of these.
How can you tell when it’s time to change your workout routine?
At times, it can be difficult to determine whether your current plan is adequate or if it’s time for a change. If you have a trainer, he or she should take care of this for you. (If your trainer doesn’t vary your workouts, find a new trainer.) One way to tell is by noting the amount of progress you’re making. If you’ve seemed to plateau or are actually getting worse results than you had previously, it’s time for a change to your current fitness habits (and likely some much needed time off). Are you doing long cardio sessions everyday? Try incorporating interval training. Having a hard time lifting weights you used to do with ease? Try negative sets or drop sets. And if you’re getting bored altogether, circuit training provides a welcomed change to any fitness routine while keeping it exciting.
Cycling your goals throughout the year is another way to add variety to your workout. During the spring and summer months, there are several outdoor runs, races, and events you may want to train for. This is the perfect time to focus your workouts on cardiovascular activity. During the winter months, as you spend more time training inside, you may elect to concentrate on muscular strength. Whatever technique you choose, remember to always include cardio, strength, and flexibility training in your overall routine.
The body is very capable of improving performance given the right stimulus. Varying your training periodically will help spark these improvements.