Changing your workouts occasionally is one of the keys to achieving long term results. When to change your workouts is the question though. If you experience; a lack of results, lack of motivation, boredom or desire to increase your strength or muscle mass and/or desire to be leaner, it may be time.

We have all noticed that dedicated person in the gym doing the same routine every day. They always look the same or perhaps a little worse each year. This happens because many people don’t make changes in their diet or training to bring about change! If you don’t change things up, your body doesn’t need to adapt. Make your time in the gym count… change it up!

You can create change several ways:

1. Change the exercises you use to work each body part. For example, if you currently use the chest press machine, switch to barbell bench press, flies, or push-ups. You can change things up by simply switching to dumbbells instead of machines.
2. Change the order of the exercises you are doing. Its simple, but it works.
3. Change the intensity of your workouts. Try higher or lower rep ranges. For example, if you are doing 15-20 reps per set, increase the resistance so you will fatigue at 8-12 reps. If you are doing 8-12 reps per set, lighten the resistance to enable you to complete 15-20 reps successfully.
4. Try giant sets. Giant sets are when you do multiple exercises before resting and repeating this cycle. A sample giant set for the quads, glutes and hamstrings could be: leg extensions, hamstring curls, leg press, walking lunges, finishing with bar squats. Perform all of these exercises without stopping, following with a 1-2 minute rest. Your rests may be longer or shorter depending on your cardiovascular condition. I prefer doing higher rep ranges (15-20) on leg workouts. You may choose higher or lower reps to suit your individual goals.
5. Add active resting. Rather than a typical rest time, perform walking lunges, in place squats, standing side leg lifts, jumping rope or simply walking on the treadmill for 1 to 2 minutes. Active rest allows the worked muscle group to rest while keeping the heart rate up. As a result, you increase your calorie expenditure and burn more fat.

These are just a few ways to implement change. The main point to remember is your body may begin to plateau after about a month on any given program. In order to get the results you want, change is required. Now is the perfect time to spruce up your workout as we ring in the New Year. Each year is an opportunity to improve ourselves so, make plans to achieve a higher level of health and fitness this year!

I am big proponent of basic compound or multi joint movements such as squats, rows, bench, barbell curls, etc. Especially for beginners!! I can't stress that enough. I always incorporate them in every workout.

In my opinion, free weights provide the best base of strength, size development and muscular balance. Free weights force the supporting muscles to work and become strong as well. I think you shouldn't just have gym strength. For example, if you only ever did smith machine shoulder presses then you would not develop the muscles that stabilize the shoulder in 360 degrees of motion. You only get strong in that limited, single plane of motion. So when you are at home and attempt to lift something overhead you can hurt yourself quite easily because you never developed the stabilizers. Instead, incorporate clean and press, standing shoulder presses, dumbbell movements, etc.

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Anyway, having said that there should still be variation or periodization in your routines with a vigilant eye on safety. Consistency is more important than pushing the limit every time. If you get hurt all your gains go out the window, so always train smart and safe. If behind the neck presses are painful change to an exercise that does not hurt. Again safety is the #1 priority but still stick with basic compound movements. For example, perform standing front military presses instead. A part of maintaining consistency, growth and remaining injury free is to listen to your body and avoid overtraining. Overtraining is where you will go backwards in your gains. Most people try to compensate by pushing harder and end up injured. Hence, the periodization allows you to cycle down from the high intensity or heavy weights and allow your body to heal and grow better before beginning another heavy cycle.

I personally, usually train in 3 distinct training cycles.

1. Strength (powerlifting style): 3-6 rep ranges after full warm-up. Usually 3 exercises per body part, 4 sets each. Mostly basic compound movements such as squat, dead lift, bench, military press, etc., very little concentration exercises. Some assistance work added to maintain muscle balance and improve weak range of motion in basic lifts. For example, I may do partial bench presses to help improve ability to lock out.
2. Muscle size and shape development (Bodybuilding): 10-12 rep ranges after full warm-up. Usually 3 exercises per body part, 5 sets each. Start with 2 basic movements then follow with concentration movement in higher rep range. Sometimes as high as 20 reps/set.
3. Cutting (fat loss): 10-15 rep ranges. Usually 3 exercises per body part, 3 sets each performed in all supersets. Working one muscle, followed with working another (non-competing) immediately with no rest. For example, I may do seated shoulder presses followed with dumbbell curls and then repeat right away without stopping. I also use a heart monitor during this phase and keep my hear rate/minute above 150 beats/min. at all times during the workout. For example, I would do the shoulder press, wait for my heart rate to drop to 150 then immediately start the curls, rest until my heart rate dropped to 150 then repeat for 3 sets non-stop. I would then switch to two more exercises and keep going.

Consult with a Fitness Expert or Professional Trainer to assist you in a training program.
Please consult with a medical doctor if you experience any health related problems during training.