A lot of people get stuck in the habit of finding a workout routine that works for them and then sticking with that plan for months at a time without switching up the way that they train. Although I am a huge fan of consistency and solidifying form on movements, there are many downfalls to staying in the same routine, and many upsides to switching it up.
The main reason behind why switching up the workouts you do is important is the fact that we get bored easily, but so do our bodies. Our bodies adapt very quickly to the challenges that we give them, until those things are no longer challenging. Just think about it, if our bodies never adapted, we would never get stronger, or add more muscle, we would just stay the same. This is normal, and a necessary piece of getting more and more fit.
When this occurs we reach what is called a plateau, where it’s hard to see any more progress in a certain area of the body, a certain movement, and even weight loss. To combat this, we must give the body something that it has not seen before, and this is called muscle confusion. This can be done several different ways, such as switching up the exercises that we perform, using a different method of training, increasing the amount of weight, or changing the number of sets and reps we are doing.
Using different exercises to target the same muscle groups is an extremely effective way to guarantee progress within strength training. Each new exercise will challenge the muscles being used in a different way, but all add to the same goal of increased performance whether the focus be strength, endurance, mobility, or stability. The idea is to start off with the basics and build a strong foundation around multi-joint exercises that use many muscle groups at once, and then as the trainee progresses the exercises that are prescribed may become increasingly more complex. This creates a much more competent trainee due to the fact that they are learning to understand their bodies and how to use them in many more ways than one. It will also keep the trainee engaged, as they are being tested both mentally as well as physically as they try to master these new tasks.
In terms of workout programming, going from one methodology to another is also a fantastic way to break through plateaus and guarantee progress.
For example, going from a high rep routine with moderate weight to a low rep routine with heavier weights will create a stimulus that the muscles are not trained to handle efficiently. As a result, the body will recruit muscle fibers and motor units in different ways than it is used to, and will result in a challenge that we must once again overcome. This allows for great strides to be made in terms of strength gains, and when the time comes to increase the reps prescribed in the next routine, the trainee is able to use a heavier weight to perform the movement for higher reps. Consistently varying the routine allows for constant small wins throughout a long term training cycle, and pushes the trainee to break out of their comfort zone and experience progress in ways that they may not have before.
Keep these things in mind whenever you feel yourself getting stuck doing the same things in the gym day in and day out, and always remember, variety is the spice of life.