Exercise Workout: Change It Up

For help finding an exercise routine, speak with an exercise specialist at your local gym or at one of the BJC WellAware Centers.

Many gym-goers have found programs and exercises they enjoy doing and try to build a workout around those exercises. Unfortunately, when you stick with a program for too long -- the same exercises, sets, repetitions, type or mode -- your results suffer.

A personal trainer can offer ways to change your workout, regardless of how productive you think it is. It’s the job of an exercise specialist to help you progress in your overall health. This means the same program shouldn’t be used for everyone, and the same program shouldn’t be used for too long by anyone.

Most workout programs are formed using general guidelines, but sometimes radical changes must be made to provide additional results and to keep the mind and body fresh.

The human body can adapt to a workout program in as little as four weeks. So, changing your routine will improve your results. Some studies have even shown that strength improves when workout programs are changed daily. It may be a little extreme to try a new workout regimen every day, but it’s not hard to change just a few simple elements in your workout to produce better results. Try these tips to give your workout a boost:

  • Develop a Plan of Attack -- Before you start your workout, write down everything you plan to do . . . arrange exercises so you can quickly move from one to the next (if your goal is to promote muscle tone and burn fat) or so you can get some extra rest -- try supersets or tri-sets (if your goal is to build muscle and increase strength); track the amount of weight you lift on each and every set of your strength-training workout so you can track your progress

  • Stick with a Program for Four Weeks -- Most people, if they’re properly stressing their muscles, will start to plateau -- or see only small gains -- within four to six weeks of using the same program

  • Schedule Rest -- Results aren’t achieved in the gym...they’re achieved by rest and repair after your workout; take a week off every six to eight weeks to allow for recovery of muscle, tendon, ligaments and other components of the joints. If you’re just starting your exercise program, you can wait 12 weeks to rest, so you don’t take a week off and quit completely; recent research has shown that men who halved their training for one week each month boosted their strength by 29 percent

  • Find a Workout Partner -- This is the next best thing to having a personal trainer . . . if you have someone to count on, and someone who’s counting on you, you’ll be more inclined to consistently exercise

  • Get a Personal Trainer -- Trainers can figure out quickly what’s the best training program for you, or what changes or tweaks may help get better results; trainers work with many different types of people, so they can easily tailor a program to fit your needs (At the BJC WellAware Centers, an exercise specialist can review your current exercise program and evaluate it for free whenever you’d like.)

  • Establish Realistic, Measurable Goals -- Do this before you start any exercise program to motivate yourself; if a goal can’t be measured, then it’s tough to succeed; weight, body fat percentage, strength, endurance and flexibility are components of fitness that can be measured, and these key points should be the basis for your fitness goals; make sure your goals strike an emotional element as well, such as, “I’d like to walk up the stairs at work without being winded” or “I want to shop for new clothes, but I’m too big”

If you’re not sure what realistic goals are for you, speak with an exercise specialist or physiologist at your local gym or at one of the BJC WellAware Centers. Our job is to provide a tailored program specific to your needs, goals and ability. In addition, our knowledgeable staff can provide an accurate timeframe specific to your short-term and long-term goals.

Are you ready to be fit? We’re ready to help.

Disclaimer: The information on this page was compiled by Aaron Gutjahr, MSed, ACE, ACSM certified personal trainer, BJC WellAware Center exercise specialist and personal training coordinatorl. This material provides general information only. It should not be used in place of the advice, instructions, or treatment given by your doctor or other health care professional.