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Changing Workout Routines 101

This is a continuation on from my previous post on the 9th of May debunking the myth of ‘muscle confusion’.

As mentioned, provided you are following a decently planned workout routine consistently and applying progressive overload by increasing the weight you are lifting, the number of reps you are performing or the amount of volume in each workout you will continue to progress.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating you stick with one routine for all of eternity.


Change should be made when necessary, not when inessential.

Times when I personally change my workout regime (and recommend you do too!) include:

If you consistently fail to progress

Progression isn’t always linear; eventually you may find yourself stuck – unable to increase the weight, reps or volume of certain portions of your workout. If your lifts or muscle growth aren’t continuing to improve after a period of time this is a sign change may be required.

If you desire a different end state

If you’ve changed your mind and you’d now like to focus on building functional strength for a particular sport it doesn’t make sense to continue with your current bodybuilding routine does it? Align your workout regime to your goals. If your goals change if may be time to change your workout to suit this.

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4 Anterior Delt Exercises To Build Boulders For Shoulders

If you find yourself bored

Working out is meant to be fun, and if you’re not having fun and motivated to do it then you’re going to see very mediocre results. If you find yourself bored after you’ve been performing the same routine month in month out then you should consider changing your routine to regain that interest, desire or motivation.

If you encounter an injury

If you injure yourself you’re going to have to change your workout regime to accommodate this. For example if you had a lower back injury exercises like deadlifts and squats would be a no-go. Suitable supported back and leg exercises would be implemented (as these will not stress the lower back like the stabilization during squats and deadlifts does).

So what changes can you make then?

Let’s pretend one of the above 4 situations has arisen and therefore it is time to switch up your routine.

I recommend changing to exercises that utilise the same movement pattern and target muscle group.

You wouldn’t swap out a leg press for a bicep curl would you? Of course not.

Some examples of exercise alterations I recommend include:

  • Barbell bicep curls to alternating dumbbell bicep curls
  • Overhead tricep dumbbell extension to overhead cable rope extension
  • Bent over barbell row to either bent over dumbbell row or bent over underhand barbell row
  • Squats to front squats
  • Pull-ups to rack chins
See also
Cardio Before or After Weights?

Changing your repetition and set structure is also an option – you can even retain the total number of repetitions.

5 sets of 4 (strength oriented training) can be altered to 2 sets of 10 (hypertrophy training). This is dependent on your goals.

What are your favourite exercise variations? Let me know in the comments below!


Scott J.
Scott J.
I’m SJ. I’m a fitness enthusiast and published author. I transformed my body from a skinny fat 135lbs with 18% body fat to a solid 192lbs at 8% body fat. I became qualified in a field I was passionate about. I founded several online businesses that allow me to pursue ideas and projects in my life that I am passionate about without having to constantly worry about money. I published several eBooks explaining the training and dieting techniques I used to achieve the body I have today. I learnt a plethora of new information on dieting and fitness by reading and applying what I read, to find out what does work and what doesn’t work, because as I’m sure you’ve noticed the health and fitness industry is full of non-sense claims and BS. I found out what was true and what worked for me and applied that knowledge. And you bet I had fun during the whole process.

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