The old school train of thought was to frequently switch things up in the gym to ‘shock your muscles’ in order for them to grow. That if you did the same group of exercises for a particular body part – and in the same order, no less – that you would hit a plateau and stop growing. But does that have any validity to it?
First of all, everybody reacts differently to training and what is entailed to live the so-called bodybuilding lifestyle. Some people can grow like weeds by doing the basics, while others can train as hard as anyone, take gear, eat a clean diet…and still look like shit.
So there is no exact science or owner’s manual to refer to; you just have to be patient and use the trial and error system until you find the right formula for you – not your training partner, the guy who won the last local show or even Phil Heath.
So let’s assume that you have it all figured out exactly the way you always wanted it. You’re making some real noticeable gains in the gym and have the right amount of energy and just enough soreness and fatigue to know that you’re on to something, but not enough to inhibit you the next time around. So what are you going to do – blow it up and start all over again?
Fuck, no. Tinker some, maybe. But it would be foolish and probably set you back a few months if you begin to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.
If you’re looking for the answer as to when you should change your routine up, it’s when what you’re doing is NOT working. You feel as if you hit a wall, can’t get passed a certain sticking point and that in itself is making it more and more difficult to get the same intensity.
When you can feel your muscles fill up with blood, that pump can make any nagging injury seem distant. That creaky knee that’s been bugging you since high school? Good as new, or at least good enough to not hold you back from throwing on two more plates for that last set of squats.
So before you just assume that it’s been eight or so weeks and it’s time to find a new regimen, take stock as to the big picture. If you’re feeling strong, are getting a good pump and still growing, then your muscles are already being shocked.