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How Often Should You Change Your Gym Programme?

As I’ve mentioned in quite a few previous blog posts, it can be a little overwhelming when there are almost endless possible ways you can put a gym programme together. 

Another thing to consider once you’ve decided on what to do from the exercises, exercise order, sets, reps, tempo and rest periods, the next thing to consider is, how many times should you repeat a programme and for how long? 

My way of thinking always begins with, START WITH THE END IN MIND.

Now, straight off the bat let me point out that when it comes to your health and fitness there is no actual end point, per se.

What we all have a periods of time where some things matter more to us than they do at other times but ultimate we can never stop.

How much easier would it be if you could just work your arse off once, get in great shape, get strong AF and that was it, done, set for life. 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, we must keep working. 

For example, if you’re going on a beach holiday it’s quite natural to look to tighten up the abs a little (or a lot). 

When I say start with the end in mind, what I mean is what is your goal in the short-to-medium term? 

Let’s say you are going away in 12 weeks and want to lose 20 pounds.

There we have a clear ‘end’ point.

Once we have that end point, we can then break it down and work backwards to get smaller chunks of times or what I would refer to them as being blocks

In the scenario I mentioned, if there’s a 12 week goal I would usually break it down into one of 3 options. 

  • 2 x 6 Week Blocks
  • 3 x 4 Week Blocks
  • 4 x 3 Week Blocks 

So here I have the choice of changing programmes every 3, 4 or 6 weeks. 

Generally speaking, the more experienced you are the more frequently I would change programmes. 

So for beginners, I’d tend to change every 4 – 6 weeks and for intermediate/advanced trainees every 3 – 4.

If you’re not sure what’s best, you won’t really go far wrong changing your programme every 4 weeks. 

Now within every programme you need to consider your frequency of training. 

For example, if you train 3 days per week and you are changing your programme every 4 weeks you could use the following strategy…

  • Day 1 – Upper Body
  • Day 3 – Lower Body
  • Day 5 – Upper Body
  • Day 8 – Lower Body
  • Day 10 – Upper Body 
  • Day 12 – Lower Body
  • Repeat same format for next 2 weeks

Here you will repeat each programme within the block 6 times, which for most people (particularly beginners), is about right.

This way you can do repeat each programme enough to see noticeable improvements but you don’t drag it on too long until you get bored and/or plateau. 

Going back to our scenario, 4 weeks is also long enough to see some weight loss and I’d aim to be losing 30%-35% of my 12 week goal in this timeframe. 

If I do that’s great, my calorie levels to back up my workouts are fine, if not we’ve still got plenty of time to make some adjustments if needed along the way. 

Having 4 week ‘sprints’, instead of one just long 12 week slog can keep things fresh.

How you get to where you want to be matters, the only thing that should ever really change along the way in the number of calories you would consume to match your goal at a certain time.

Other than that, most things always stay the same (training frequency, water intake, meal frequency, sleep, etc.)

As always, experiment with what works best for you.

Thanks for reading, have a great day.


Do you need confidential help with your health, fitness or nutrition? I have a range of services available, with Personal Training in my Private Gym in Manchester, also at your home or workplace in the surrounding areas. For clients further afield, I provide Online Personal TrainingNutritional Consultancy & Private Fitness Holidays.

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