Generally speaking, the short answer is that you don”t necessarily need to vary your weekly workouts. However, there can be some situations that require you to make a change to your workout routine.
When What You’re Doing Stops Working
Sooner or later, you will hit a plateau. As you work through your same routine day after day, your body adapts to the exercises you are doing. It becomes more efficient so you end up not burning as many calories as when you first started, thus resulting in less weight lost or in some cases no weight loss. Let’s take walking for an example. Before scrapping your whole program, try adding some variety to your workout, like:
- Walking faster
- Walking farther
- Adding in some resistance in the form of some hills
- Strapping on a pair of wrist weights and moving your arms more
Any of these changes can help you break through a plateau because you are now burning more calories than you were before the change in your program.
Your Goals Change
Of course if you have a major shift in your goals, you may have to overhaul your whole workout routine. For example, if your goal was weight loss and you have now hit your goal, your new goal may focus on maintaining that weight loss or building muscle. In this case you may switch from a cardio routine to strength training or add in an extra day of weight training and one less day of cardio.
Your Workout Bores You
Have you lost the enthusiasm you had when you first started? Sometimes a minor change to your program is all you need to get the excitement back. Let’s use our walking routine example again. Change your routine just a little by switching things up; change the music on your MP3 player, start walking with a friend, if you walk on a treadmill try walking outside or visa-versa. These little changes keep your workout routine intact, it just changes the conditions a little.
Something Out of Your Control Forces You to Change
The first thing that comes to mind is an injury. When hurt, you may not be able to do the same exercises that you were doing before the injury. In this case, modify your routine to fit the current conditions until you are healed. That might include switching some exercises to avoid using the affected area, doing less repetitions, or doing the exercise without weight.
Or you may have to switch to a completely new routine that will help you heal – such as one that includes stretching and increasing flexibility, like yoga or Barre classes.
The point is don’t scrap a routine just for the sake of change. Unless one of the four above conditions happen, you are probably better off sticking with your present routine.