There’s a good time for it and a bad time for it.
Is it ever okay to hop programs?
Hell yes it is!
But first, let’s qualify when it might NOT be all right:
1) You’re bored.
Oh, boo frickety hoo. Boredom is not a sign that a program is somehow ineffective. In fact, some of the best results I’ve ever gotten were from programs that bored me to tears and really forced me to stick to the plan. If it’s entertainment you want, there are better ways to get it than through fitness training. A personal fave of mine is cat videos on YouTube.
2) The movements aren’t easy.
So? If anything, this should serve as your sign to keep going! The better you fill the gaps in your training (i.e. get better at stuff you’ve ignored or suck at) the greater the likelihood that you’ll get better at everything else. Besides, no one ever got a reward for taking the easy road. Results await you at the end of a challenging program, not a low-balled one.
3) You’re lazy.
Well, at least you’re being honest with yourself. If this is the case, just know that no program will ever fulfill you because you’ll always be playing to your weakness – namely, your inability to finish what you start.
But when MIGHT it be a good idea to switch to a new program before finishing your last one?
1) Your schedule changes.
Five-day-a-week training is my fave. It also happens to be a hard thing to maintain for many people at various times due to various reasons (new baby, bigger workload at work, traveling, etc.). So if you take an all-or-nothing approach to training, do you think you’re more likely to get all…or nothing?
From my experience, it’s definitely the latter. So in lieu of training either 5 days or 0 days a week, switching to a 2 or 3 day a week regimen for as long as you need will keep you going forward slowly and steadily despite your hectic life. Believe it or not, you might even make better progress, as 5 day a week training requires a good amount of recovery, which (let’s face it) most people don’t really prioritize.
2) You start getting a nagging joint/soft tissue problem.
A few years ago after several months of pretty regular overhead kettlebell training, my shoulders started bugging the heck out of me. Rather than push on and risk a more serious shoulder issue, I stopped overhead work all together. This gave me an opportunity to start exploring some stuff I was ignoring before – namely front squats, double kettlebell swings, and perhaps most importantly, straight-arm gymnastics work. In short order my shoulders started feeling much better, and my overall fitness was far better than it was before.
There are other reasons that are perfectly legit, but you don’t need to go searching for ’em. Odds are you fall in at least one of the above categories, so instead of trying to make up new ones, find which one best describes you and take the appropriate action – be it marching forward or changing course.
Being honest with yourself is the first step in leveling up. You know what to do next.