For all the lifters out there, I want you to ask yourself; “when did I begin my current workout split”? Did you create your own workout split? Did you go on YouTube and find the most desirable personality and listen to their advice about arm day? More importantly, have you followed this very same routine for more than a couple of months? Changing up your workout split from time to time is one of the most important (and forgotten) techniques for both gym newbies and seasoned bodybuilders. But why is this?
By Mike Axler, BS
The Dreaded Plateau
The reason why changing up your workout split is so essential is due to one simple word: “plateau”. How does the term plateau relate to your fitness journey? Well, our bodies fortunately (and unfortunately) are very resilient. They respond efficiently to the stresses that we place on them. Whether it be increasing your alcohol tolerance, becoming desensitized to porn, or getting used to the same workouts, our bodies have a way of settling into routines.
At first, one beer is enough to make you giggle and give you the confidence to move your hips a bit at a frat party. But, several weeks into the semester, you are already pre-gaming just to get the same buzz. To stay somewhat on topic, analogous to drinking references, the same applies to the workout split. While initially you may have struggled to bench four sets of ten, you now barely break a sweat lifting that same weight.
There’s a fancy term for the example I just gave: “The Law of Progressive Overload”. The textbook definition suggests that in order to stimulate further muscle growth, you need to push your workouts past the point of comfort. Originally, you may have had trouble lifting fifteen-pound dumbbells for ten repetitions. But now, it’s a piece of cake. The way to get stronger is to either lift heavier dumbbells, or lift more sets and/or reps.
Now what’s the take-home message here?
If you have followed the same routine for more than a month, don’t hesitate to either switch your split entirely, or make some substitutions with exercises that have been left out from your current routine. For example, you may be used to hitting dumbbell bench presses for four sets of ten reps. Why not start your next workout with pushups, incline press, or even cable flies? By allowing your body to fall into the rhythm of a weekly routine, you will fail to make the linear gains you wish to obtain. So, do not fear trying out a new routine, or lifting a heavier pair of dumbbells. The results will speak for themselves.
Mike Axler is working on his Masters’ of Science Degree in Sport & Exercise Science at the University of Central Florida. He also runs a successful Personal Training business in Central Florida.