A word of caution to anyone working on their health and fitness: Your fitness journey will not be a linear path; your growth track will not be a straight line up and to the right.
As many of us begin exercising and working out, we tend to experience weeks and months of positive results — provided we are training the right way for our goals, our nutrition is on point, and our body chemistry is not out of whack.
However, as we progress, we experience plateaus, and perhaps even some backsliding. This could be because of any number of factors: fatigue, poor sleep, nutrition changes, injuries. Often it is a combination of many factors rather than just one.
However, one often overlooked reason you might experience a lull in your results is that you’re not adjusting your workouts to compensate for the fact that your body is really, REALLY good at adapting to stress.
As your body gets used to the increased demand you’re putting it through, it requires more and more effort to extract results from it.
So how do you accomplish this?
Working muscles in different planes of motion, using different weights, changing up your number of reps or sets, experimenting with different tempos — changing these variables can be XXXXX.
You can also change up the frequency with which you train.
Studies have shown that “well-trained individuals benefit from including periods of training muscle groups 3 days-per-week when the goal is to maximize muscle hypertrophy.”
Essentially, the research suggests that for those individuals who have trained for a long time, by working your muscles more frequently — rather than, say, the typical body-part splits you often see in the gym — you keep your muscles in a heightened state of muscle growth. The increased exertion of your muscles is the signal to your well-trained body to keep growing!
This is one of the reasons why I’ve recently switched over to total-body workouts.
Instead of dedicating an entire workout each day to one specific body part (chest day, back day, leg day, etc.), each day is a total-body workout with an emphasis on a body part. So while my Tuesdays, for example, are still focused on my back, I’m also working in leg exercises, chest exercises, shoulder exercises, and core work.
In the study I linked above, the study participants who trained in a total-body style had statistically significant positive results when it came to muscle growth over their body part-split counterparts, with no positive or negative difference in strength gains.
I’m noticing this same effect as I continue to workout in a total-body fashion, and at the same time, the total-body workouts have allowed my body to recover from little nagging pains and aches that come with the heavier lifting of body-part splits.
Additionally, as a guy who loves to change it up and always keep my routine fresh and new, the total-body workouts have been awesome for that. I would encourage you that if you feel like you’re stuck in a rut, that you’re not progressing like you once were, or you just want a change, give total-body workouts a try.