Consistency is King



As a trainer, I am often asked, “How long does it take to get ‘x’?” X being whatever you can imagine; a six pack, 10lbs of lean muscle, 6 inches on my vertical, lose 10% body fat.  My answer to that is that it is completely up to the person.

When it comes to working out and training there are a lot of misconceptions about how the body is effected by it.  Some of these are worthy of there own post (i.e. the more you sweat the better the workout).  The one that I feel really needs to be addressed is the quick results fallacy.

There are tons of infomercials claiming “I lost 10lbs in 2 weeks!” All the while a model with toned legs and a six pack is scene posing on screen.  These claims and images create a fallacy that leads consumers to believe that by buying that particular product, or following that particular short-term diet will yield the same results in themselves.

Unfortunately, the body just doesn’t work like that.  Long lasting, effectual change does not happen in a matter of a couple of weeks; or months for that matter.  Sure, you will lose 10lbs in two weeks if you cut out all sugar and carbs, but then when your 30 day diet ends and you go back to eating the way you did before the diet what happens?  You put back on that 10lbs and then some.

The body is programmed for self-preservation.  This boils down to the fact that it will adjust and adapt to whatever stresses are placed on it, and it will do so gradually.

The all encompassing moral to this story is that the best way to permanently change your body you need to do it through gradual, lifestyle changes and consistency with those changes.  Rather than doing a crash 30 day diet try cutting your caloric intake by 100-200 calories each day.  This could be as simple as ordering a black coffee from Starbucks instead of a skinny mocha latte with extra cream.  Try taking four, 10 minute walks a day to increase your caloric output by 100-200 calories and now you’ve just put yourself almost 400 calories per day down from your previous lifestyle.  It takes 3,000 burned calories to lose a pound of body weight.  At that rate you will lose almost a pound a week.  Stay consistent with that and you have the potential to lose 52lbs in a year!

Consistency and Fitness Goals

When it comes to fitness goals nothing trumps consistency.  The body changes through the stress, recover, adapt cycle.  You train and stress the body, you eat and sleep to recover, and your body adapts to the stress that you placed on it last workout.  That is how you adapt forward.

You can also adapt backwards by going extended periods without placing regular stress on the body and/or not allowing it to recover.  Studies show that the minimum amount of training for strength adaptations is 2x per week.  That is an average of a training session every 3.5 days.  Barring elite athletes, people need to have regular, progressive stress placed on the body in order for compounding adaptations to occur.  When a person trains on a Monday, and then doesn’t train again until Saturday they can effectively de-train everything they trained on Monday.

Similar effects are seen when a person trains too much and does not allow for proper recovery time.  Rather than allowing their body to adapt towards the goals the athlete has set it is forced to go into survival mode, often compromising all the work done.

The key point is that in order for you to make long lasting changes to your body you must remain consistent in your training and recovery habits (diet, hydration, sleep).  Having one without the other lessens the desired effect.  Having no consistency at all leaves you treading water and not going anywhere.

Train hard.  Recover well.  Adapt Forward.