Consistency is king when it comes to making progress in training. No matter what your goals are, steady progress over time is what will get you there, not short bursts of high intensity followed by periods of strong rebellion against all forms of movement.
Let’s take “Cindy” for example. Cindy wants to get in shape and lose some of the extra weight she put on over the winter months. She looks online for tips on how to lose weight, and is inundated by information. An hour into her google searches and she has a full pad of paper filled with the details on her plan of attack.
What does this plan look like? Cindy will go to spin classes 3 days a week, strength train four days a week, do one yoga class on the weekends, and cut all carbs from her diet. Keep in mind, before this, Cindy has only gone to the gym twice a week when she has the time, which usually ends up being only once a week.
Things start fine for Cindy, and she feels great after the first week. A little overwhelmed, but she’s sticking to her plan and it feels good.
Three weeks in, the wheels start to fall off the bus. Cindy’s knees hurt, she would literally kill for a piece of bread, and she is absolutely exhausted from the new schedule. Worst of all, she has started to hate spin classes and is sick of drinking protein shakes and eating chicken breast. Yoga used to be her outlet for stress, but recently she has noticed that she is starting to hate going to classes. What went wrong?
Cindy didn’t account for the long term factor of consistency. There is no perfect plan if you can’t stick to it, and sticking to a plan is all about building long term sustainability and enjoying the process. So if the key to success in training is consistency, how do we train that quality and ingrain it as a habit?
It starts with fun.
You have to enjoy the process of training. Not that every moment of this journey is going to be sunshine and roses, but overall you should look forward to your sessions as opposed to dreading your trip to the gym.
So how do you have fun with your training?
The first step is to find a community of like minded people with similar goals. If your goal is to bench press 315, you probably aren’t going find “your” people at a Zumba class. However, if your goal is to get stronger, healthier, and more proficient in the fundamental movement patterns, joining a well run group exercise class might be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
Find “your people” and get to work. You will be incredibly surprised how much more enjoyable it is to suffer alongside those who want it just as bad as you do.
Another critically important aspect of creating consistency is adopting the right mindset. Everything changed for me the moment I started telling myself “I get to train today” instead of “I have to train today.” I know it sounds so simple and silly, but changing your internal dialogue has a drastic effect on how your body and mind react to training.
Remember, you GET to train today, you don’t HAVE to. There are plenty of people out there that would kill just to have the ability to use their body the way you sometimes dread doing. Movement and strength are a blessing, and should be treated as such.
Lastly, I encourage people to find enjoyment in the training process through competition.
Compete against yourself, compete against your friends, or compete against strangers, it doesn’t matter. Learn a new skill, or sign up for a race or a competition in 6 months and see how that lights a fire under your butt. The thrill of competition and the embarrassment of failure are two unique ingredients that come together to create a quite potent recipe.
Consistency is the most important factor to long term success, and finding a way to make your training fun is the fastest way to achieve this simple but elusive quality. Remember, it all starts with enjoying the process and finding a way to add fun to your training. Keep your head down, enjoy the process, and come up for air every few months or so to enjoy the rewards of your efforts.