It doesn’t matter what your fitness goals are; whether it’s weight loss, body building or running, the key to getting results is progression.
At first, you just need to be consistent with your workouts.
But as the weeks go on, your workouts must increase in intensity if you want to continue to see results.
You must challenge your body in order for it to change and get fitter.
But how do you know when it’s to increase the intensity or change up your workout routine?
1. Workout Is Suddenly Easy
When you start a new routine, you feel the burn in the first set and by the third, you’re probably struggling to complete it.
The longer you do the routine, the easier this becomes – until it’s too easy.
During the exercises, you need to feel challenged in order to see results.
If you started using an 8kg kettlebell and you struggled to get through the workout, but a few weeks later you can complete the workout quite easily, it means your muscles have adapted too much and it’s time to increase your weight or change your routine.
Another way to gauge it: the last 3 reps should be the hardest reps to complete. If this isn’t the case (and all the reps kinda feel the same), it’s time to switch it up.
2. You’re Bored
On the psychological side, sheer boredom is a cue that it’s time to change it up.
If you’re bored of your workouts, you’re going to lose the motivation to push through the last few sets, meaning you won’t get the best out of your workout.
And even more importantly you’re at risk of losing motivation all together and you give up completely.
3. You’re Not As Hungry
You should feel hungry after exercise. After a tough workout your body repairs the muscle fibres that gets broken down during the workout.
It needs protein and nutrients to generate new muscle protein strands –hence the reason why we should feel hungry when we have a good workout.
If your workouts are easy, then there are no muscle fibres to repair and our bodies don’t ask for extra food.
4. Your Heart Rate Is Low
One of the easiest ways to tell if your body has adapted to a routine is your heart rate.
If you are monitoring your heart rate and it’s staying relatively low when it should be working very hard, most likely you have adapted to your routine.
To ensure your body is being challenged, aim to keep your HR at 60-80% of your max for most of any HIIT or cardio routine.
Once it drops below this for the majority of a workout, change your routine.
(To work out your max heart rate do this quick calculation: 220 - your age).
5. You’re Not Sore
Every time you have a good workout and challenge your body you should feel a small level of soreness.
When you start a new routine, or get back into the gym, your next-day aches are going to be pretty painful for the first week or two. The aches won’t be as bad the more your muscles adapt to the moves and stress.
Even the fittest people will be a bit sore after a great workout when they haven’t yet adapted to it.
Once that ache in your abs or soreness in your legs is gone, that’s good indicator that you need to increase the weight, repetitions, or overhaul the routine entirely.
6. You Aren’t Seeing Changes
The mirror doesn’t lie: You should see the physical effects of a workout four to six weeks after hitting it consistently.
Nutrition plays a huge part in this, but if you are keeping your diet on track but are still not seeing any physical changes, the most likely culprit is adaptation.
Graham Low, owner of East Coast Fitness, is an award-winning personal trainer based in Seaham. The ex-professional footballer was nominated for the Small Business of the Year and Leisure Awards at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards last year. Graham won the Leisure Award at the North East Hotels Association Awards while working as gym manager at Seaham Hall in 2012. For personal training, boot camps, small group training and online programmes email email@example.com or visit www.eastcoast-fitness.com