This is one of the questions I get asked the most. There is no definitive answer to it, only general rules of thumb, but here I’ll try to give you my take on what works and why.
Optimal: 4 weeks
Maximum: 12 weeks
I recommend changing the diet plans once your weight hasn’t changes for more than a week. This is a clear indication that you are neither gaining nor losing weight. IF you goal is to gain weight and you haven’t increased in in more than a week, then you should increase calories. The same holds true for fat loss plans. When your goal is to lose fat and for a week you didn’t see any change on the weight scale, then you should decrease the calories more. Your daily weight always fluctuates ±1 kilogram, so you should have a clear idea of your average weight and monitor its fluctuations. It is also important to note that weight change may not always be a good indicator of your progress, since for me visual progress has always been the number one determining factor.
In general I recommend changing the diet plan optimally every 4 weeks, as this is the period of time during which the body adapts to the calories and any weight gain/loss process slows down. The absolute maximum period will be 8-12 weeks. If you want maintenance and muscle gain or fat loss is of no concern to you, then you can just use a maintenance diet plan. While it may seem to be a very complex issue, weight gain and weight loss is actually a very simple process that is guided by the amount of calories you ingest. If you are in caloric surplus – you gain weight. If you are in caloric deficit – you lose weight.
Optimal: 3-4 weeks
Maximum: 12 weeks
Basic physiological training adaptation principles state that the human body becomes adapted to a certain physical stimulus within a period of 3 weeks. A lot of people notice that once they start increasing their weights for example, this will last for 2-4 weeks after which they hit a plateau. That’s absolutely normal. Besides this, the body also adapts even quicker to the repetitions ranges for the exercises that you use. This means that in order to keep the body guessing you should change your repetitions every week. For example if you do 10-12 repetitions one week, the next one do 4-6 in order to keep the muscle guessing. This is a very hard to do, cause you have to be experienced enough and have control over your training and most importantly – do this instinctively.
I recommend changing the workout programs every 3-4 weeks as being optimal and 12 weeks as the maximum period. Changing your training plan every week may not be very wise, since the muscles don’t have time to adapt to a certain stimulus and grow big as a result of it. The integration of special training protocols and techniques has to be very professionally made; otherwise you risk getting either overtrained or even worse – undertrained.
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