One of the most under-appreciated factors that contribute to fitness success is training consistency. No matter how hard you train during any one session, you won’t make gains unless you master the art of consistent training. Sadly, lack of consistency is what keeps most people from reaching their fitness goals. Don’t let it happen to you!
Developing consistency starts with developing a plan and sticking with it – but not being SO tied to your plan that you’re inflexible. If you’re inflexible and have an “all or none” approach to training, you risk becoming discouraged or even quitting when you’re forced to miss a workout. Read on and discover tips for staying consistent long-term.
Training Consistency: Be Realistic about the Time You Have to Exercise
Realistically look at how much time you have to exercise. If you’re working a full-time job, have three kids at home and are taking a class at the local university, you may not have an hour a day to work out every day. Realize that ahead of time and structure your workout accordingly. Can you fit in a 20-minute HIIT workout first thing in the morning or right after work? Look for blocks of time you can work around.
If 20 minutes daily is all you have, acknowledge that and do shorter, more intense workouts. If you plan on exercising an hour a day and can’t follow through, you’re throwing consistency right out the window. Be realistic from the start, don’t take on more than your schedule permits.
Training Consistency: Take the Slow, Steady Road to Fitness Gains
All too often people have unrealistic expectations about what it takes to change their physique. They work as hard as they can for a few sessions, step on the scale and expect to have lost weight. When they weight train, they’re looking for super-fast results. If only it were that easy! This mindset comes from advertisements for fitness products that promise weight loss with no effort and don’t deliver.
Recognize that changing the shape of your body takes times – several months to begin to see changes and a year or more to reach some goals, depending on your starting point. If you know this ahead of time, you won’t have unrealistic expectations that destroy your drive and motivation and make you wonder why your body isn’t changing.
Training Consistency: Don’t Beat Yourself Up When You Have to Miss a Few Workouts
PLAN on being consistent, but realize that things don’t always go as planned. Illness, a death in the family, an unexpected trip can throw your best-laid plans off. Consistency is about getting back on track after a setback. Some people have a hard time bouncing back after missing a few workouts, thinking they’ve lost their momentum and their fitness gains. Don’t worry. You can miss a week or two of training without becoming deconditioned. Even if you’re out longer, muscles have “memory” and quickly recover from time away from lifting. Understand you’re in to exercise for the long haul and setbacks are something you’ll encounter from time to time.
Training Consistency: You Don’t Have to Train Hard Every Day
Consistency doesn’t mean doing a HIIT routine or lifting to failure every day. It’s about balance – evening out high- intensity days with lighter ones. If you have the mindset that you have to max out every time you work out, you’ll end up exhausted, frustrated or injured. Add variety to your routine by including active rest days – days where you lift lighter or do a low-impact, yoga or stretching routine. By varying what you do and the intensity, you’ll get more enjoyment from your workouts and have an easier time being consistent.
Training Consistency: The Advantages of Having a Plan
Once you plan out your routine and get into “the groove,” it’s easier to be consistent. One way to establish a routine is to work out at the same time each day. Penciling your workout into your schedule makes it less likely you’ll get off track. For many people, first thing in the morning works best. When you work out first thing, you get it done before something “comes up.” Research shows people who work up a sweat in the morning are more consistent than those who exercise in the afternoon or evening.
Training Consistency: Trouble Being Consistent? Try Shorter Workouts
If you’re just starting to work out, begin with shorter workouts and gradually increase the time as you become more confident. Most people have an easier time sticking to short exercise sessions. Completing a workout, no matter how brief, builds confidence and motivates you to do it again. If you’re a beginner and have the lofty goal of pushing yourself hard for an hour, you’ll be so exhausted after a few sessions that you won’t follow through. You can always increase the length of your workouts later. In the beginning, focus on consistently completing your workouts – not on workout length. On days you feel like you can do more, do it, but don’t set yourself up for failure by committing to long workouts.
Training Consistency: Consistency Applies to Nutrition Too
Even if you’re consistent with your workouts, you’ll fall short of your goals unless you’re consistent with your diet too. Yes, you can still have a cheat meal here and there, but 90% of what you eat on a daily basis should be the “good stuff” – fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources and moderate amounts of whole grain foods. Make it easy to stick to the plan by lining up your meals ahead of time. Make meal preparation quick and easy. Seek out healthy recipes that only use 4 or 5 ingredients, cook once a week and freeze what you prepare. Invest in a slow cooker for “hands-off” meal preparation. Keep things as simple and hassle-free as possible. You want as few obstacles in your way as possible.
The Bottom Line
There’s no quick and lazy way to get fit. You have to put in the work consistently and keep your diet clean with the exception of occasional cheat meals. Plan, plan, plan and make sure you’re setting reasonable, achievable goals. Then work toward them in a slow, methodical and consistent manner.
US News. ‘6 Benefits to Being a Morning Exerciser”
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