Routine is the Enemy, Or Is It?

We hear the catch phrase “routine is the enemy” related to training every once  a while. In training, it is associated as a negative and/or bad thing. And it can be so.


But let´s think about routines in a little more depth. The definition of routine according to is “a customary or regular course of procedure“ and “ commonplace tasks, chores, or duties that must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity”  So it is a sequence of actions regularly followed. It can be either a bad or a good thing.

Treating your body poorly on a daily basis constitutes a bad routine. If you are inactive, don´t pay attention to your nutrition by eating junk food, sleep and recover inadequately, then we can say that things are not going well for you my friend.

On the other hand, eating, sleeping and training wisely is a positive way to implement a routine. Those routines will make you stronger, faster and fitter. This is pretty plain and simple. No big arguments about that.

StretchingSource: ATP

When you want to get better at sports, you have got to establish well-rounded programming.


If you run 5k on Mondays, always with the same route, same intensity and same conditioning then you will eventually hit the point where you will gain no more results, you will only maintain your fitness level. If you do 5×5 back squats always with the same loading, same resting period and same tempo, you are not going to get any stronger once you reach a certain point. We could go on and on about this list, but you get the point. This type of training routine is the enemy. You must change something. Change the speed, route, time of working out, tempo, loading etc. Then you will achieve a new stimulus and your training becomes progressive once again.

I consider routines to be pretty much same as habits. Like many great coaches and authors say:  “If you want to make a change make it a habit first.”

Nobody stays motivated all the time. But if you make a habit out of what you do, you don´t need motivation. Prep your food, get up and hit the gym, do your daily 15min of mobility work, without thinking too much. That is a habit. That is a good routine. That is what leads you to become a better athlete. If you wait until you feel like doing something, you will be screwed. Motivation doesn´t last forever, habits are easier to follow.

Lasse RantalaSource: ATP
Lasse Rantala

If you have a range of motion restriction or problems with your motor control, then you should work on those regularly. Mark your calendar with the times when you will do this or get an extra 10-15 minutes of work in before your training session starts. Otherwise there is a good chance you will forget.

What you do and how you do it is dependent on you as an athlete, but the idea of hitting weaknesses and problems over and over will give you results. As long as you remember to switch the stimulus.

Enhance your training routines

I want my athletes to have some part of their own routine when it comes to warming up and there are a couple of reasons to do that. Your warm-up routine should be independent of the gear around you. It should be something, that is easy to repeat without having any bands, rigs, barbells, kettlebells etc. A warm-up routine is a great opportunity to gather data and reflect your daily conditioning.


When you repeat the same things and movements it is easy to figure out how you feel: do I have extra tension somewhere, do I need more mobility work, how are my hamstrings today? Based on your feelings through the routines you do, you can continue to more sport specific warm-ups and define what else you need to do before you start your actual workout. Cooling down should have a routine too.

Before a competition, athletes are normally nervous, some more than others. When you start doing your typical warm-up, your body is giving signals to your brain saying “soon we are about to work out, we must get ready for that”. Warm-up routines can lower the stress and distraction. You don´t need to think about how to warm- up, you know that already.

I tell my athletes to stick with the basics before an event. Don´t make any radical changes or any changes in nutrition, recovery or warm-ups. Don´t make any irrational movements before a big lift. Just do what you always do. Stick to your routines.

There are good and bad routines. Just like there are good and bad habits. Find the ones that will drive you to become a better human and athlete. Those are routines we want in our lives.

Improve your training now!

Image Sources

  • Stretching: ATP
  • Lasse Rantala: ATP
  • Ski-Erg: ATP

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