Staying consistent with your exercise routine can be very challenging, especially as a beginner. We see so many athletes and fitness models looking like Greek gods and think to ourselves: “I want to look like that” or “how can I possibly look like that?
Truth is, a big factor in what they did along with their training regiments and diets was consistency. You can have the most healthy diet plan and the most elite training regiment but if you’re not consistent with either of them you might as well not even try.
Is it just will-power? The answer is, no. Will-power and motivation only last so long until other things come up that may distract us from our current objective. Even if you make it last several weeks, will-power never prevails. It only helps in the beginning but it is simply not enough to keep the ball rolling.
So how do these athletes and fitness models stay consistent? Did their will-power prevail? The truth is that these people did not use will-power or motivation to get to where they are, they used habits. They made habits in their daily life to keep themselves consistent. Will-power could have very well played a role, but once the beginner’s motivation ended, what kept them going were the habits they had gotten themselves used to.
The real question to ask is: How do I make these habits? Here are some guidelines that will help you with how to stay consistent with exercise and keep you consistent.
If you’re a beginner or someone who comes and goes with your fitness, it is a wise move to start slow. Even if you come and go and have a bit more experience, starting with something that’s slow to you (you personally) will be a tremendously effective way of staying consistent.
So what does this mean? Most of us when starting out, we’re starting because of will-power; this will-power gives us energy and ambition to do more. Unfortunately, doing more often comes down to being more than we can handle to stick to consistently.
Very few people are able to start with something very challenging and stick to it all the way through. Truth is: we as human beings do get lazy and while in the beginning going to the gym for 2 hours may seem like the best approach, starting with a routine as little as 20 to 30 minutes will allow you to slowly baby crawl your way into being consistent.
Let’s face it, it’s much easier to stick to something on a daily basis if it only takes up 20 minutes of your time instead of 2 whole hours. Also, doing this gets your body used to the movements and routines that you’re beginning to get it accustomed to. This ultimately turns into a habit.
Of course, this 20 to 30 minute routine isn’t all you’re going to be doing 3 months from now. You want to stick to this for about 2 to 3 weeks before you can start adding more intensity and time to your workouts. The point of starting slow is to get you into the habit; after about 2 weeks you’ll realize how much easier it is to stick to it and you’ll be able to add more to your routine.
Make sure to this gradually though; don’t go from 20 minutes to 2 hours on week 3. Instead, add another 20 minutes, then later an hour, make it gradual. You must learn to fly before you can soar with eagles.
Set a Schedule and Stick To It
Setting a schedule is one of the most important things for us as human beings. We have so many things happen in our lives that not having a schedule can really lead us to live some pretty hectic lives. Setting a schedule won’t only help you with your workout routine but with your life in general.
In this case, we’re focusing on exercise though. If you know you work from 9 to 5 then figure out a way to put your exercise around that. Are you going to do this before or after work? Which time will be easier to follow?
These are individual questions to ask yourself whose answers will definitely vary from person to person. Maybe you work nights and this is something you’ll be able to do before work. Like I said, it’s different with each person so set a time that will best fit your schedule.
You want to set a time and stay consistent with that same time. You’re more likely to put it off for later for a time when you feel more “energized” if you don’t set a specific time.
Keep in mind, I didn’t say set a time for when you feel like working out, I said a time that will best fit your schedule. There will be times when you don’t feel the energy to go on a run or to the gym. Your energy isn’t something relevant, the only relevant factor here is that it is now 6 o’clock and you set this hour (or 20 minutes) for your run or the gym.
Getting past these moments of “no energy” and doing your workout because this is the time you set aside for it, will very effectively translate into a habit. Later on, you’ll no longer train because you feel enerzied but rather because it is simply part of your daily routine at that time of the day.
Your goal here is consistency, if you know you have to go to the gym Mon-Sat and today is Thursday, but you don’t feel like going, suck it up. Get up and go.
The thing is, even if you have a set schedule, if you decide that you’ll skip today because you don’t feel like going today, or you already went 4 days in a row, you aren’t going to stick to the habit. You’ll actually be more prone to keeping this mentality of “I’ll do it tomorrow” as you move forward; thus not keeping you on a consistent schedule.
However, if something crazy in your life just happened and you have to miss a day or two, don’t beat yourself up about it. Many people feel like they failed at their consistency when they miss a day or two (sometimes maybe a week). Simply get up and keep going, we’re all human beings and we make mistakes, but letting these mistakes take you down will only make it worse for you.
Simply start your challenge over again; don’t feel down about this. Starting over again might actually be a benefit for you and help you stick to your routine even more.
I stated in my “How to Become a Better Athlete” article that a very effective method to becoming a better athlete is setting a goal. This is also true when it comes to becoming consistent with exercise.
You want to have your overall goal, however, you also want to have mini-goals. These mini-goals are what will keep you moving forward and closer towards your overall goal. I would highly recommend these mini-goals to be 30-day goals.
They don’t have to be huge goals. Mini-goals aren’t supposed to be big changes, they’re small changes. These small changes add up slowly and start turning you overall into a highly changed person. It can be something as simple as: “I want to lose 5 pounds this month” for example. Once you’ve achieved this goal, set another one in the coming month.
Make It Enjoyable
This is much more important than many of us think. Making our routines enjoyable allows us to much more easily stick to being consistent. While in the beginning motivation might make it seem like enjoyment isn’t something that matters, once that motivations runs out you won’t feel like sticking to doing something you don’t enjoy.
Fitness should be something you enjoy, not something seen as a burden. This doesn’t mean that every single day you’ll want to go train (though if this is your case, then this is amazing!), this means that once you are training you will at least be enjoying yourself.
Think about what will make your fitness journey more enjoyable. For a runner, waking up early and seeing the sun rise in the morning sky and the scenery of the trail might be something that makes this enjoyable. For people in gyms, the community can be enjoyable (don’t go to the gym only for social purposes, but that doesn’t mean be antisocial). For competitive athletes, having your teammates there to support you makes the experience all that more enjoyable.
Everyone has a different approach to making their fitness pleasurable. When starting out, having to go do something that you enjoy is much easier than pushing yourself to do something that you don’t want to do.
The truth is: will-power and motivation won’t last forever. When these strong feelings go away we’ll have nothing to lay back on to keep us consistent. This is why we must develop habits that will keep us at the gym or on the run regardless of how we feel.
These strategies are highly effective in keeping people consistent at the gym and guarantee some promising results. They’ll help you make exercise and training into a ritual that will keep you on your feet and moving forward towards that ultimate goal.
If anyone has any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section below!
Remember, stay consistent and don’t make excuses!