Consistency is Key
Jan, 30, 2014
This past week it’s been hard to find the motivation to work out. Normally, I have no problem heading to the gym and working out hard, but when the weather is a consistent 10 degrees and it snows every other day, about the last thing I want to do is push myself hard at the gym. You know what though, that’s fine. I don’t have to push myself hard at the gym, or at least plan on pushing myself hard at the gym, but I do have to show up. Why is that?
Because consistency is the name of the game. No matter what else is going on in my life, no matter what excuse I can possibly think of to skip heading to the gym, I still have to show up.
If I’m tired, so what? I still have to go to the gym, foam roll and stretch. If I do that, then I’ll usually talk myself into doing something for just “5 minutes.” If I have the time, those 5 minutes usually turn into 45 minutes with a few core exercises and I end up getting in a good workout.
If I only have 20/25 minutes to workout, so what? I still go to the gym. I may not get in my greatest workout, but I can still get in a pretty decent workout. In fact, the day that I deadlifted more than ever was one of those “25 minute days.” I did back-to-back deadlifts and incline chest press with a bit longer rest in between. Twenty-five minutes in and out and I got in a great workout.
If I’m exhausted because I only got 3 hours of sleep the night before, so what? I still go and tell myself to do “only 5 minutes” or simply allow myself to do something I enjoy doing, but rarely get the time to do. I usually end up doing some bicep curls and dips or some single-limbed movements like lateral raises.
At the end of the day, there are very few reasons to skip a work out. The only times I feel anyone should really skip a workout is if they have acute back pain, a family emergency or if they are “flu-like” sick. Any other joint pain or a less intense feeling of sickness can be worked around.
If you feel a bit beat up and don’t feel your best, you don’t skip the gym. You adjust your workout.
And that’s the key with staying consistent, you adjust your workout, you don’t skip it.
Not every work out is going to feel amazing. There are some days when you don’t want to do anything besides sit on the couch and veg out. So do that…after you go to the gym for 5 minutes.
Not showing up for any small and innocuous reason is the biggest reason why people don’t end up hitting their fitness goals. It’ll usually start with something small and which you feel you have a “perfectly good excuse,” and that turns into a month-long furlough into, “I don’t know what happened.”
Does this mean that there won’t be days that you’ll miss? Of course not. This doesn’t mean that life won’t get in the way of your plans. It simply means that you get out of your own way so that you can follow your plans. You might miss a workout every once in a while, but when you get rid of the excuses and see them as such, you increase your odds of hitting your goals exponentially.
Again, not every workout will be great. In fact, half of the time, you might just be dialing in your workouts. It might be lackluster and you can’t wait to leave. But by showing up, you build something much more important than any muscle that day. You build the habit of getting to the gym when you don’t want to. If you can do that, then you can truly take advantage of the days when you do feel amazing.
How Consistency Adds Up
Why is consistency so important? Because how else do you move towards any goal? By taking one step at a time? There are obviously better ways to make things happen. For example, if you want to go from NYC to LA, you could drive, take a train, walk or take a plane. The plane would be the quickest and most effective way. In the same manner, there are more effective ways to get to your “destination” when you have a fitness goal. You can workout hard and not watch your diet, you can workout hard and eat right, you can do low intensity cardio for a long time or you can do high intensity cardio for a shorter amount of time (amongst 1,000’s of other options). Despite the methods used though, if you’re not showing up, it won’t matter.
It’s like that trip from NYC to LA. If you chose to take a plane, but then the plane stopped at 20 different airports along the way, while simultaneously having a 24-hour layover at each airport, taking a plane, might not be the most effective way to get there. In the same manner, any fitness goal you have is expedited, no matter what method you use, if you consistently show up.
For example, say you simply plotted how you felt every day that you showed up on a scale of 1-10 and added those numbers up at the end of the month. In one month, if you went every Monday thru Friday for a month, those numbers might end up looking like the red line in the chart below. A slow, but steady increase of getting better, expedited by being consistent. In the blue line, you see a steady progression upwards, but of a much slower rate. Take that and expand it out over a year and that gap does nothing but grow. With that said though, I am probably being generous with this chart.
The chart below will actually do a much better job of showing the reality of what happens when someone isn’t consistent. As you see, the red line is still the same, but the blue line plateaus. In other words, the person who wasn’t consistent, simply stopped seeing any progress and stopped going. Instead of making slow, but steady progress, they did nothing but plateau (and in reality that line would drop back down).
At the end of the day if you’re not consistent, then it makes it very hard to make progress. If you are consistent, you increase your odds exponentially of progressing.
Three Take Home Points
In the end, there are really only three things to remember when it comes to seeing progress towards your training goals:
1 – If you’re consistent, then you give yourself the upper hand at seeing the results you want. If you’re not consistent, then that should be your first priority. Even if you’re not doing things “perfectly” the act of showing up and “putting in the work” has an additive effect that is hard to put an exact value on. Removing any excuses standing in your way and admitting that they’re excuses is a great way to stay consistent. Remember, don’t’ skip the workout, adjust the workout.
2 – You will not feel good going into all of your workouts, and might even feel worse after a few. Some days, you’re simply doing the things that you need to do (being consistent) and some days that’s good enough. You won’t feel like a superstar every day and you don’t need to be.
3 – By staying consistent, you get to both notice your progress and take advantage of the days you do feel amazing. Not all of your workouts will feel amazing, but some will make you feel incredible. Take advantage of those days (and increase your odds of having them by using BioFeedback training).
In looking for images for this lesson, there was a quote that read, “Consistency is far greater than rare moments of greatness.” I can’t agree with that sentiment because in my mind, only by being consistent can those moments of greatness truly occur.
Therefore, until next week, stay consistent…
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