Creating a lifestyle around fitness starts with showing up consistently.
It's step 1. It's the entry fee that opens up your goals. Without consistency, you can't make progress, regardless of how hard you push, or the hacks you use to get there.
In this post, I talk about:
- What consistency means when it comes to training.
- What makes you inconsistent and how it's not motivation.
- How you can be more consistent to improve your results
What is Consistency?
Consistency is the act of showing up regularly.
It doesn't necessarily mean show up daily; it means showing up when you're supposed to each week.
It's about creating a routine.
🪥 The Toothbrush Model of Consistency
Training is a habit that only rewards intensity when you're consistent.
When you miss a week, you can't just "make it up" by doing double the next week. What's done is done, just like brushing your teeth.
We know that for brushing your teeth, the general recommendation is to brush twice a day. If you miss an entire week's worth of brushing, you can't just brush 4x a day the next week. You need a consistent daily routine of brushing to prevent that plaque buildup.
I doubt that brushing your teeth has ever been the highlight of your day, but you're probably doing it consistently whether you feel like it or not. It's the same with training. Because our body gets fitter when we recover, we can't measure or create a routine that progresses over time.
A Consistent Routine:
Week 1: 2 Sessions
Week 2: 2 Sessions
Week 3: 2 Sessions
Week 4: 2 Sessions
Over time, you can increase your intensity by:
- Adding an extra session per week; in this case 3 sessions per week.
- Adding slightly more intensity to each week through more weight, reps, less rest, etc.
Building From Consistency:
Week 5: 3 Sessions
Week 6: 3 Sessions
Week 7: 3 Sessions
Week 8: 3 Sessions
With inconsistency, however, you can't progress as easily in a program. Because sessions are sporadic, you may find yourself:
- not squatting enough one week and the next week you find your legs demolished from 3 leg sessions.
- being overly fatigued or crazy sore from the week with 5 workouts in a row, but not doing enough on the week with 0 sessions
An Inconsistent Routine:
Week 1: 3 Sessions
Week 2: 0 Sessions
Week 3: 1 Session
Week 4: 5 Sessions
Why You're Inconsistent
I find that inconsistency isn't the problem. There's usually something deeper. Inconsistency is a symptom of a deeper problem.
There's probably a deeper problem if:
- You find yourself constantly in a state of "Getting back into it."
- You get back into it for a day and then say "Okay gonna get back into it forreal this time"
- You don't know the exact days of the week you're going to workout.
- Work is so busy that it gets in the way of your self-care.
- "You don't have the time."
The deeper problem could be related to:
- Planning: You don't plan your days, so you react to what happens.
- Prioritization: You view training as something you do when you have time, so you say yes to things that give you short-term satisfaction.
- Program: Your program doesn't align with your lifestyle. The workouts take too long or you genuinely dislike the movements you do.
- An All-or-Nothing Mindset: You miss a day or two and give up, so instead of getting a workout or two in, you get 0, and then you try again next week.
It's Not a Motivation Thing
It's common to think you're just not motivated, or you're not a hard worker.
Fuck that! It's not about motivation.
Motivation is an easy way out. There's no actionable fix for it besides saying "Try harder." It requires no actual change. But nothing changes if nothing changes.
If you ask anyone who's been consistent for years , you'll find that they aren't motivated daily. It might even be the opposite. Some days suck more than others, and some sessions are amazing! But they show up regardless.
Instead of making training a special occasion they feel motivated for, they make it a pillar of their schedule. (shoutouts to Stu Brauer for that phrase)
Because it's not a motivation thing, training consistency is a skill you can plan for, prioritize, and improve through actual change.
Improving Consistency: Create a routine
After identifying why you're inconsistent, create a routine to improve your consistency.
Questions to ask yourself:
- "How many days per week am I going to train?" (I recommend starting with 2-3 sessions per week.) Choose a number that's almost too easy to hit.
- "What days of the week am I going to train? What time am I going to train on those days?" How does those days look like? Consider the commute if you're driving to the gym, and the shower after when planning.
- "What do I do if I miss a day?" If I do miss a day, when do I make it up?
- "What workouts am I going to do?" Follow a program and stick to it.
- Consistency is the act of showing up regularly.
- Inconsistency is a symptom of deeper problems like not planning sessions, not prioritizing your time, not having a workout program, or just not enjoying your workouts.
- It's not about motivation.
- Be more consistent to improve your results by creating a routine.