Change is good

How often would you recommend to change the program of training? In terms of a change I understand varying amount of sets/reps, pause between sets, exercises. Usually I follow my individual program for 8 weeks after I stay off the gym for 1 week and start a new program afterwards. I would appreciate to receive an answer again. 


My Answer: I've answered this question before.  Please take the time to look through my blog, as you will find answers to many of your questions.

I'm a big believer in changing routines often. How long you stay on a program and how often you change it up will depend on a couple of things:

Is the program a block program?  In other words, is it the same workout every time you hit the gym, or does the program require you to rotate through a series of different workouts?  If it is a block program, then your training will get stale very quickly.  You can't stay on a block program longer than 3-4 weeks before you start to plateau.

If the program is a series of different workouts, then you can stay longer on the program: up to 8 weeks. Exercises, sets, reps and rest periods should vary from workout to workout.

Everybody adapts differently to different programs at different rates.  Some people can stay on a program for months and not hit a plateau or get bored.  For myself, I can't stay on a program longer than 2 weeks, and even then, the program itself consists of 4 different workouts.  My body gets bored very easily.

Some people have bodies that adapt very slowly to a stimulus.  This may sound like they have a physical disability or that they're slow learners, but for muscle building, it's sort of a blessing.  You see, once your body adapts to a training stimulus, it doesn't grow.  Adapting to a training stimulus (i.e. weightlifting) means your nervous system and muscles have made all the necessary changes to handle the weight.  In other words, your muscles grow bigger to handle the weight, but they won't grow any more unless they're exposed to a new stimulus (i.e. heavier weight, different exercise, more sets, more reps, less rest).

Those who are new to weight training tend to adapt very slowly to the stimulus.  Hence people tend to make the most gains in size and strength in the early years of training.

Those who are advanced trainees have done and seen it all in the gym, so they tend to adapt very quickly to a program.  Advanced trainees tend to have exercise A.D.D., so their training will vary from workout workout.

Bottom line: When in doubt, change your program.  Especially if you've been on a program longer than a few weeks.  Changing programs every 3 weeks is the general recommendation, but like I said, it can depend on the program itself and your adaptive capabilities.

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