What to Do When Your Workout Stops Working Out

3 min read  |  December 05, 2018  | 

Some folks call it a rut. Some call it a plateau. Some call it things we can’t say on a family friendly website.

But, yes, it happens to everybody at some point or other:

One day, despite your religious dedication to your exercise routine, your workout stops working. You hit a wall. It becomes all pain and no gain.

It happens to runners. It happens to weightlifters. It happens because our bodies are exceptionally good at being human.

“Basically, your body is very good at adapting to stress,” says Sven Bornemann, certified trainer and conditioning specialist at UHealth’s Fitness and Wellness Center. “So when you give your body a certain stress, it’s going to start finding a way to adapt to that. If you consistently do the same workout over and over and over again, your body’s going to adapt to it, and your workout won’t adjust any further past that point.”


In other words, our routines get to be too routine. And our bodies start treating it like a stale relationship. You know, kind of going through the motions. Without any real passion or effort.

“You could use the example of a person who runs 20 minutes a day, five days a week. If he does that for the rest of his life, he will be in a perpetual state of that same cardiovascular adaptation.”


The solution: You’ve got to put the work back into your workout.

That means giving your body the ol’ one-two:

One, intensity. Two, variety.

Take weightlifting, for example. You can increase the weight you’re lifting, decrease the amount of time you rest between sets, increase the number of sets.

That’s intensity.

Or, change the exercises you do entirely. Switch flyes for bench presses, or use dumbbells instead of barbells or machines. Then, a few weeks later, switch things up again.

That’s variety.

It works for cardio exercise, too.

Change the way you do your routine — Longer distances, shorter distances, sprints, pace. Push yourself.

Change your routine — Do bike, elliptical, outdoors, indoors.

“Lots of people tend to go with the workouts that they enjoy doing because they’re already good at them. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and away from what you’re good at and going and doing the things that you’re not good at a lot of the time will have greater benefit.”

And won’t that make all that sweat sweeter?

Carlos Harrison is a contributing writer for UMiami Health News. He is a former national and international television correspondent, as well as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor.

Tags: exercise routine, Sven Bornemann, UHealth’s Fitness and Wellness Center, workout

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