10 Ways to Jumpstart Your Workout Program

woman using weighted ropes in gymWorkout programs are great!  They provide us with a routine that is designed to produce results, make it easier to schedule workouts into our day-to-day lives, and include a handful of different workouts that we can “mix-and-match” to get a good total body workout each week. With any new workout program, you can experience significant results over the first few months. After a while you may notice that your body hits a “plateau” and the changes that you were seeing at the beginning taper off. Because the body adapts to the workouts and isn’t challenged to the same level as the start, it becomes resistant to change.  If you are looking to jumpstart your workout routine here is a list of 10 ways to get your workout program working for you:

  1. Increase the exercise intensity
  2. Engage your core (to improve our form)
  3. Decrease the resting time in between sets/exercises
  4. Change the number of sets/repetitions for each exercise
  5. Change the type of resistance
  6. Change the base of support (to challenge stability)
  7. Change the order of the exercises
  8. Change the order of the workouts
  9. Get a personal trainer
  10. Add a new activity or sport to your workout routine

Increase the Exercise Intensity

It’s natural to start getting “lazy” when we exercise.  It’s easy to lose focus and simply “go through the motions”.  One of the easiest ways to increase the intensity of our workouts is to get excited, get motivated and by staying focused during the workouts.  Ways to do this could be as simple as:

  • Changing your workout music
  • Working out at a time of the day where you have more energy and vitality
  • Getting new workout gear and/or running shoes
  • Going to a different location (with an environment that is more suited to your workout style)

If you are willing to change your actual workout routine you can try:

  • Increasing the exercise resistance (same repetitions; more weight)
  • Increasing the exercise volume (same weight; more repetitions)
  • Increasing the number of exercises (same workout time; more exercises)

Engage Your Core (to improve your form)

Core and stabilizing muscles throughout the body are muscles that we tend not to engage during exercise. These are the muscles that ensure you have good form through the torso of the body as you lift against resistance (upper and lower body exercises).  These muscles protect the spine and joints while preventing pressure and pain during weight training exercises.  Cues to keep in mind to engage the core stabilizing muscles and to ensure good posture and form include:

  • Shoulder position (shoulder blades back and down)
  • Engaged abdominals (belly button pulled in towards the spine)
  • Engaged glutes (activation of the glutes to open up the hips)
  • Strong lower back (slight tilt of the tailbone up)

Decrease the Resting Time in Between Sets/Exercises

As the workouts become easier and your body starts to adapt you can increase the exercise challenge by using less rest in between exercises.  Using the same exercises and exercise order, take less rest in between sets and/or repetitions.  Keep the body in a state of discomfort so that it needs to change over time.  Be sure to give your body enough rest to exercise effectively and with good form.  Using a timer can be helpful to keep you on track and consistent with your rest intervals.

Change the Number of Sets/Repetitions for Each Exercise

Without changing the exercises or exercise order in your workout routine you can vary your workouts by changing the number of sets and/or repetitions to challenge your body in different ways.

  • Increase the weight and decrease the sets and/or repetitions (results are focused on building strength and power)
  • Keep the same weight and increase the sets and/or repetitions (results are focused on improving muscular endurance)

You can apply this to all of the exercises in a workout to keep your body guessing or select a handful of exercises that challenge the parts of the body that are hitting a plateau and not producing results.

Change the Type of Resistance

If your body is used to using a particular type of weight and/or resistance, it gets comfortable and efficient with the movement.  By changing the type of resistance you use (without changing the actual exercise or movement) you will experience significant results and changes.  The type of resistance, the change in angles and the different muscles needed add a new challenge to the exercises.  Different types of weight and/or resistance include:

  • Weight stack machines
  • Weight machines using pulleys
  • Free weights and dumbbells
  • Medicine balls
  • Kettlebells
  • Suspension training using gravity (i.e. TRX Suspension Trainer)
  • Body weight (i.e. push-ups vs. chest press, chin-ups versus lat pulldowns)

Change the Base of Support (and challenge stability)

By changing the surface that you sit or stand on during your workouts can provide a significant challenge to your exercises.  Adding instability provides a kickstart to the exercises because it forces the muscles of the core and torso to be engaged throughout the exercise.  Ways to add instability to your exercises include:

Seated Exercises

  • Kneel instead of sitting
  • Stand instead of sitting
  • Do single arm/single leg exercises (instead of two arms/legs at the same time)

Exercises Lying Down (Supine)

  • Lift both feet off the ground
  • Do single arm/single leg exercises (instead of two arms/legs at the same time)

Standing Exercises

  • Stand on one foot (instead of two)
  • Use a Bosu Ball (flat side down; flat side up)
  • Use an inflated disk or thick foam mat

Change the Order of the Exercises

By simply changing the order of the exercises you change the way your body responds to work and recovery from fatigue.  If your workout routine includes groups of exercises focused on different body parts you can change up the order of the exercise groups or the order of each of the individual exercises.  Large muscle group exercises (i.e. legs and back) require more energy than small muscle group exercises (i.e. arms and shoulders) so be conscious of the need for rest and recovery to ensure optimal results and safety during your workout.

Change the Order of the Workouts

If you have a weekly workout routine (same workout routine each week) change up the individual workouts to different days of the week.  The fatigue that you experience after each workout can effect how the body responds to exercise.  For example, if you usually do a leg workout on Monday and a chest workout on Tuesday, both muscle groups are fresh (at 100%) for each respective workout.  If you change it up and do a bootcamp workout on Tuesday instead of a chest workout, the legs are still recovering (functioning at 75%) and will be worked further to fatigue.  Be conscious and aware of your body’s energy levels and ability to perform your next workout when you choose your sets, repetitions, resistance, rest intervals and overall workout time.

Get a Personal Trainer

Personal trainers are a wealth of knowledge, a source of motivation and emotional support and are a great addition to any workout program.  There is a lot you can learn in a single session (60 minutes) that can be used in your independent workouts.  A one-on-one personal training session can be a great opportunity to:

  • Increase the intensity of your current workout (motivation, coaching and support)
  • Learn and practice proper form (get more out of each exercise)
  • Learn and practice new exercises (add variety to your existing workout)
  • Ask questions about fitness and exercise

Be sure to research and qualify the right personal trainer who meets the needs and expectations you have for the money you are investing in your personal fitness results.

Add a New Activity or Sport to the Workout Routine

Try adding something new to your workout routine.  By challenging your body in various ways (muscular strength, muscular endurance, power, agility, speed, reaction time, balance and stability, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance) your body needs to move and work in different ways and learn to recover from the challenge.  Total body activities and recreational/competitive sports are amazing ways to get a total body workout that can be fun and a way to add variety to your workout schedule.  Find an activity that you enjoy or always wanted to try like:

  • Group fitness class (Body Pump, Step aerobics, yoga, pilates, Zumba, bootcamp)
  • Dance (latin dance, ballroom, hip hop)
  • CrossFit
  • Swimming
  • Mountain biking
  • Figure skating
  • Skiing/snowboarding
  • Golf
  • Karate
  • Indoor sports (basketball, volleyball, hockey)
  • Outdoor sports (soccer, baseball, flag football)

This activity is meant to be educational, social and fun!  Get out of your comfort zone and challenge your body and mind in unexpected ways for optimal results.

Jumpstart Your Workout – Final Thoughts

Human beings are creatures habit but that doesn’t help when it comes to getting results from our set workout programs.  Be sure to keep it fresh, change it up and make it FUN!


    1. for so long i tried to wake up at the crack of dawn; exercise before my baby{ies} woke up. but i’m kind of a natural night-owl .. so i decided to just embrace it. i started working out at night [9pm]; i love it! my husband works nights .. so this 100% me-time. i sleep soundly; i actually look forward to it!

    1. By the time my babies are 10 weeks old I get back to my workout schedule. For me, I have always found the best way to fit it in is to do it before they wake up (or if tiny, as soon as they have been nursed, but before the rest of the house is awake). If there is another adult in the house then I run outside. If there is not, then the treadmill comes out. This is my time and I don’t mind a few minutes of lost sleep to get it.

    2. Some of you all have been saying that all you need is a dumbbell rack and and bench and your good. Uhhh true but not true if your a bodybuilder personal trainer or athlete this might be a GREAT purchase. Probably a little too expensive. But if I had the money I would by it. Do you think that this machine is made for the average Joe trying to get a good workout( despite the guy in the video)?

    3. This is 100% the truth in all gyms. I think it’s for a few reasons. First, personal trainers who have awesome genetics and train people way too hard for their hormones to keep up. Secondly, supplement companies that push all these products saying you can work out as hard as you want since you have this brand new supplement cause people to work way too hard since the sups their selling do nothing. Finally the biggest reason pro bodybuilders on steroids telling everyone their personal workouts.

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      1. So the debate ensues about eating. I am delighted to put up any posts that stirs debate. It is good to have a different perspective from everyone. However, when it comes to eating. The debate as I see it is which is more important eating right or training. There is a great understanding between men and women that I believe we can all agree, garbage in … garbage out. This goes for the mind and the body. It is not a judgmental statement it simply elementary. Love your body- Peace all,Vic

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  7. hey can you help me out. I am currentley 80KG 5’11 and 16 years old. I would like to loose about 5KG i go to the gym everyday for 3 hours.I do the Stairmaster for 20 minutes and lose about 250 calories. I also do the Eliptical machine for 20 minutes and lose about 200 calories and lift weights for 1 hour and then finish off with the treadmill for 30 minutes and lose about 300 calories. How long do you think it would take me to lose my weight by doing this routine??

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  9. I suppose theers always room for improvement even when your already in great shape. My fitness plan is going good. I do mostly cardio classes and some body sculpting/conditioning classes. It would be nice to have as much strength as you have. It takes alot of work. Do you work out every day? I would like to, but I usually end up working out at the gym every other day.

  10. If used to be anorexic, and now im trniyg to repair my metabolism with your workouts 6 times a week and meal plans, HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? i gained weight [25kg in a year, i am 5.7ft and 65kg now] after i started eating again and now want to lose it correctly but my metablism is very slow. i am really consistant and very dedicated so laziness will never be an issue. please help me

  11. yes actually i did. it was awhile ago. i was determined to get strong. and i did. i started to eat right and do these every couple days. untill i stopped and started eating junk. i then got fat. i felt bad but now i’m doing it again and its going to stay that way.

  12. If your neck hurts, that means your trying to lift with your neck and not your abs. Try and refrain from holding on to your neck and place your hands either on your ears or cross them over your chest.

  13. aren’t these exercises mtsloy for the arms? I’ve been doing tough exercises but only have abs on the top and can’t get rid of the tummy fat on the lower part what can i doo?? great vids btw