How often should you switch up your workout routine?

A master trainer shares why your workout routine needs variety.

Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
Mercey Livingston
4 min read

It's easy to fall into habits with fitness, but how often should you switch it up?

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There are usually two different scenarios when it comes to how people work out. One approach is to find a workout you love (like running, spinning or yoga) and then do that workout every day. The second scenario is the general fitness enthusiast who tries a different workout every day, or works out differently depending on mood. 

While there's nothing wrong about either scenario -- working out at all, especially during a pandemic, is an accomplishment -- the former scenario is more common. And since many people do the same thing every day, I talked to a fitness trainer to find out what you need to know when it comes to the importance of variety in your fitness routine. 

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Is it OK to do the same workout every day?

In general, you don't want to do the same workout moves, activities or routines at the same intensity every day. "Our bodies are incredibly smart and they learn to adapt to stress relatively quickly," says Alissa Tucker, master trainer at AKT Studios. So in order to get stronger or improve your overall fitness you have to keep challenging yourself, like by adding heavier weights or working new muscle groups in a different way. 

If you work out on your own at a gym, you may find it easier to switch up your workout routine since you can structure your own workout. But if you go to classes or a fitness studio, you may be used to doing whatever the instructor tells you and feel like you can't control the workout.

The good news is if you do classes at a studio, you may think of it as the same workout every day, but behind the scenes the training team is most likely changing the class content regularly even if you don't realize it. For example, Tucker says that AKT Studios offers four different types of classes, and the content for each class changes every three weeks. "This is ideal because you have three weeks to improve and get stronger, then we change it up ,which shocks your body and challenges it in different ways so you never plateau or get bored," Tucker says. 

So if you currently take classes at a studio, try a different class format or try switching up the class a few times a week. For example, if your studio offers strength training and cardio classes, try to alternate days and add in another yoga or stretching class to change things up. Also, try to make sure that you're moving on to something new every three weeks since you will be challenging yourself right when your body starts to get comfortable with your current routine.


It's important to change up your workouts so you don't plateau and to prevent injuries.

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Why your workout routine needs variety

Beyond challenging your body and keeping yourself from getting bored, there are several other reasons to change up your workouts.

You can plateau 

If you're consistenly putting in the time working out every day but not seeing the progress you'd like, you may have hit a plateau. This happens when you do the same workout often and your body has adapted, meaning you won't really get stronger and your body will stay the same. In order to get closer to your goal, you'll have to change things up or add a challenge.

"Doing the same type of workout every day will eventually lead to a plateau in your results," Tucker says. 

Muscle imbalances can lead to injury

When you do the same workout every day, you're working the same muscle groups. While you may not run into any trouble with that in the short term, over time you could develop muscle imbalances. This happens when you use one muscle or muscle group too much in comparison with other groups. 

"Depending on the type of workout, doing the same routine daily may also be harming your body and can lead to muscle imbalances if you are constantly training the same muscle groups or only moving on one plane of motion," Tucker says.

To accommodate hormone fluctuations throughout the month

Changing your workout may also benefit your hormones, which is why Tucker recommends women consider cycle-syncing their workouts. "Women are very different from men on a biochemical level. It's important for women to switch up their workout routines and do lower-intensity workouts during certain parts of their monthly cycle," Tucker says. 

Cycle-syncing is the idea of exercising based on how your hormones change throughout the month for optimal performance and results. A 2016 study showed that women who adapted their workouts to their monthly cycles lost more weight than those that did not. 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.