The lowdown on workout changes and progressions

If you want to improve your fitness and strength, and make progress towards your goals, you need to consider changing up your workout schedule regularly. Small tweaks to your plans and programs will help keep your body challenged.

When you’re a mum, you need to add an extra level into this. You’ll also need to consider what fits in with the needs of your children and family at any given time. Children’s needs and schedules change quickly as they grow, and with this you need to have the ability to adapt, change tact and choose a different plan when needed. It can be easy to simply ‘fall off the wagon’ when something unexpected pops up or your schedule changes. This is because you haven’t had a chance to foresee the changes that are coming and figure out a plan B that will work for your new situation.

Here are some tips to help you figure out how to implement a new workout plan when your situation changes.

Plan ahead for changes:

With any changes in your child’s schedule, consider in advance how these are going to affect your current exercise plan, whether it’s at home or in the gym. The following can cause you to require a change in plan:

  • When your kids starts going to day care or school, or has a change in day care or school times
  • If your kid starts a new activity or hobby that requires drop offs and pick ups
  • When your kid falls ill this will inevitably require a change in plans for you, unless you would be staying at home with them anyway. In which case you can hopefully get on with an ‘at home’ workout while they nap.
  • School holidays are always a killer for a good routine. Plan ahead for them where possible, so you can plan for you, too! And remember that holidays don’t last forever…..thankfully!
  • Changes in gym class times/child-minding times.

The most important thing is knowing that things WILL change eventually, either planned or not, and if you’re cool with that – well, it’s much easier to deal with when it happens! Especially when you’re talking about the uncontrollable such as illness/emergencies.

Here are some examples:

When you have a young baby your exercise plan might consist of going for walks with them in the front pack, back pack or stroller and perhaps doing some exercises at home while they nap. As they get a bit bigger their naps can become quite unpredictable in length, meaning by the time you’ve set up your yoga mat, they’ve already woken (The Worst!). Likewise, they might not like the pram so much anymore as they get older, so they want to walk. The problem here is that they’ll walk at a snail’s pace…which is great for ‘being in the moment’ and all, but not so great for your fitness plans! So, at this point maybe bike riding with a seat for your child is an option, or taking them to a park to play while you squeeze in some push ups and lunges against the equipment. There is always a solution; you just need to think about what works for their age and stage – and obviously what works for you and your goals.

If your child is older and does swimming lessons, you could see this as a great opportunity to swim some laps yourself while you’re already there. Or perhaps they’re starting school or day care and finally you get a bit of time out and can attend a fitness class by yourself!

Knowing when to change your exercise plan or program

Generally, workout programs should be changed approximately every eight to twelve weeks if you’re doing it consistently. This is a good time to throw in a completely new exercise routine (that is still relevant to your goals) to challenge the body. It might involve getting a new gym program from your personal trainer or perhaps changing the type of group fitness class you are doing. Within the eight or twelve weeks you can of course tweak your program, and progress the exercises you are doing, as required.

If you’re not managing to get your workout in consistently then you could continue doing the same program for longer. Remember, consistency really counts.

Another reason to change your program is if you are bored of it! You need to find something that you enjoy enough, to repeat often enough to get results!! This is seriously the most important thing when it comes to putting together a workout plan. Why would you bother putting sweat (literally) & tears (sometimes) into it, if you don’t enjoy doing it?

If you have been doing your program for a while and are seeing improvements and results, then keep doing what you’re doing! If you feel like you’ve reached a plateau, then it’s time for a change.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you feel like you’re getting weaker and less fit, this could be a sign of over training. Take a break if you think this might be the case, and you will come back stronger. Generally aim for 1-2 total rest days per week, depending on your goal. For me, I’ll still walk the dogs and take the kids to the park on these days, but that’s it. Rest is so important for your body.

How to progress your workouts gradually

Workout tweaks should happen very gradually to minimise the risk of injury and burn out. If you have been doing no exercise at all, start with something very simple and light, like a few short walks each week. Later on you can gradually add in resistance based exercises, or start attending exercise classes/gym. If you jump straight into doing a one hour exercise class every other day after not having done anything for months/years, it’s going to be too much and the chances of you sticking with it will be much lower.

If you’ve got a home or gym workout program, increase only one program variable at a time.  Workout variables include:

  • Repetitions
  • Sets
  • Weight
  • Rest
  • Duration
  • Number of exercises

So, if you wanted to make your body weight home exercise program harder, you would choose ONE variable to change. For example, increase from 12 to 15 repetitions. Alternatively you could opt to go from one minute rest between sets to only 30 seconds rest in between sets. Increasing both variables at once might be a bit much, so take it slow.

At the end of the day, if you’re enjoying your workouts and you’re beginning to see results from your hard work, then things are on the right track, and you should be very proud of yourself. As the old saying goes;




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