When Do You Change Your Workout?

heavy dead lift

(March 8, 2016)


I use to do 2 sets of 12 reps. per exercise. But after looking on your web site, I see that it seems to suggest doing 3 sets with 9 reps per exercise. Is there an advantage of one way over the other?

Also, with doing different exercises, is it more beneficial to do the same exercises for a month then change or do you get the same results or better if you alternate exercise like every other workout?

Thanks for your help. I have been mostly doing this on my own for years now and would like a little advice.

I really appreciate your web site!



Hi John,

Thanks for your question.

With regards to your first question, there are really no advantages to doing 9 repetitions as opposed to 12. I've come to the conclusion that the only thing that really matters is how you progress with each passing workout. For example, let's say you do 1 set of 12 repetitions in the bench press with a 150 pounds in workout 1. For workout 2, you want to make sure that you can do either 13 repeitions with the same weight, 12 repetitions with a heavier weight (perhaps 160 pounds) or perform the same amount of repetitions (using the same weight) in workout 1 but do the workout in a shorter time period (resting less between sets for example). This can apply to 4, 6, 8 or 12 repetitions.

The point is to always strive to improve with each passing week. Of course, I wouldn't recommend you do 1 to 3 repetition maximums every week. Keep the repetition ranges in between 8 and 12, try and improve with each passing week and you'll keep seeing results.

With regards to your second question.

"Is it more beneficial to do the same exercises for a month then change or do you get the same results or better if you alternate exercise like every other workout?"

I rarely change my compound movements. The reason is that using a steady set of exercises can be measured quantitatively which is something you can't do by changing your exercises all the time. For example, I know that I'm improving when I add progressively more weight, more repetitions, or less rest times to certain exercises like the bench press. This is something that can only be done by using the same exercise over a certain period of time. On the other hand, if I change my exercises with each passing workout, how do I know that I'm improving? The answer is that I don't. I've written a more detailed article about this subject, which you can see here.

Also, you need to keep in mind that weight training is very finicky. One month your body grows like a weed and the next month, nothing. The trick is to find something that works, keep doing it and only make minor alterations to your back up exercises (non compound movements). Don't try and fit in more more weekly workouts and don't do any less. The point is don't change it if it's working!

Just remember to keep improving week to week and measure your performance on all your exercises. You can use our free exercise logs and charts here.

I hope this helps,

All the best,