If You Are Getting Bored, Here Are Ways to Switch Up Your Workout Routine

Gunnery sergeant performs a biceps curl.
Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Traynham, public affairs chief, executes biceps curls in the newly built fitness center aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, April 1, 2013. (Lance Cpl. Donald Holbert/U.S. Marine Corps)

Is your workout program getting old? Tired of the same weight training cycle, circuit routine or cardio exercise? Many people get into a rut by repeating the same old plan week after week. Your body needs change in order to stimulate muscle growth and caloric expenditure effectively.

So if you're not sure how to change things, here are a few examples of how to alter the most common exercise routines.

The most common weightlifting plan is a split routine where lifters will complete the following chart week after week:

Monday: Chest and triceps

  • Bench press
  • Military press
  • Triceps

Tuesday: Back, biceps and legs

  • Pull-ups
  • Pulldowns
  • Squats
  • Leg extension
  • Leg curls
  • Biceps curls

Wednesday: Cardio option day

Usually bike or treadmill for 30-40 minutes.

Thursday: Repeat

Repeat Monday

Friday: Leg day

  • Squats
  • Leg extension
  • Leg press
  • Leg curls

Saturday: Back and biceps

  • Pull-ups
  • Pulldowns
  • Rows
  • Curls

This plan is fine for a few weeks, but repeating the same exercises over and over without change can slow down growth, no matter how hard you exercise. If you are a lifter, add calisthenics into your workout to maximize burnout immediately after lifts:

After each set of bench presses, try a max set of push-ups. After a set of military presses, try a lightweight shoulder workout, as mentioned in "The Best Shoulder Workout" article.

On leg day, try a three- to five-minute cardio routine of biking at high levels of resistance between sets of squats and leg-press exercises.

Another great way to change the routine is mix days together, like:

Do all upper body one day -- chest, triceps, shoulder, back and biceps. Legs can be mixed with cardio on the other days like this: Sprint 100 meters, followed by squats, lunges and heel raises. Repeat that several times for a cardio and leg workout like no other.

The same old circuit routine

Many circuit programs are popular in gyms these days. Circuit training refers to a group of machines or calisthenics exercises repeated back to back with very little rest between exercises. The goal is to get as much completed in a short period of time so you completely work all your major muscle groups. These are very effective in building lean muscle mass and creating a cardiovascular component to your lifting routine.

However, the same exercises in the same order week after week can limit the positive effects of building lean muscle mass and increasing your metabolic rate. Simply change the order of your routine or try lighter weight with more repetitions.

Doing your repetitions super-slow is a great option to do weekly. Each repetition will take 20 seconds -- 10 seconds up, 10 seconds down. This is tough to do. Also add crunches between each exercise or jumping jacks to spice up the circuit. Check out the "Circuit Training" article for more tips.

The same old cardio routine

Many people will go to the gym and hop on a treadmill, bike or elliptical glider for 45 minutes a day several days a week. This can get boring, and your body can get used to the similar exertion level and actually not burn calories as efficiently after several weeks of the same routine. Spice it up with some intervals, where you speed up the pace for 1-2 minutes and slow it back down to an easy pace to catch your breath for one or two minutes. Check out the "Interval Training" article for more ideas.

Instead of just one machine for an hour, try all three (bike, elliptical glider or treadmill for 20 minutes each). Rest with an abdominal routine between each 20-minute set. Check out the "Resting with Crunches" article for better ideas to mix abs with cardio workouts.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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