This is the first in a three-part series of posts focusing on the three key components of optimal training for fitness and competition: Consistency, Variety and Intensity. In this first part the focus is on consistency, which is the key to maintaining your conditioning and preventing injury.
Consistency is all about balance. It doesn’t mean an all-out effort seven days a week, nor does it mean getting away with a “weekend warrior” fitness program. The biggest threat to consistent training is injury, which is usually the result of either overtraining or inconsistent, under-training. In fact, you’re better off exercising just three days a week, week after week, than seven days one week followed by a week of no or little training. Inconsistency also decreases motivation, for sporadic training doesn’t produce desired results, giving you little incentive to continue.
The older you are, the more important it is to exercise consistently. Indeed, we don’t typically find the “weekend warrior” syndrome among young people. Instead, it strikes those who work at a desk all week then hit the court or the field for an all-out match on the weekend, expecting their bodies to respond like they did in their younger years. As a result, they end up hurting ourselves, sometimes seriously.
One of the best ways to ensure you maintain regularity in your training is to enlist a reliable partner. You’re more likely to show up for a workout when you feel responsible for someone else’s fitness as well as your own. Whether training with a partner motivates you out of a sense of obligation or camaraderie, a number of research studies have shown that exercise adherence significantly increases when exercisers pair up rather than train solo. Furthermore, having someone to pace yourself with can really bring out the best in your training. Often you’ll find that your partner is tired when you’re energized and when you’re dragging, your partner helps pull you through. A little friendly competition can lead to a lot of quality workouts.
Consistency is integral to achieving goals in all aspects of life. Most of us wouldn’t dream of treating our work in the haphazard way we maintain our fitness, or we wouldn’t stay in business. Approach your training in the same business-like manner you do your job. Write your workouts down in your daytimer and keep a log of your goals and your progress. Exercising should be about as habitual as going to work. Moreover, the more consistent you are with your training, the less it will feel like a job. Don’t let your fitness routine become routine, however. In my next post I’ll focus on the importance of incorporating variety into your program. Stay tuned and stay consistent.