Real progress towards fat loss, muscle gain, and athletic goals comes from two essential factors – consistency and progression. Many people believe that they could make progress if they could just find that one fat burning superfood, the best possible exercise program, or a new groundbreaking supplement. However, this simply isn’t the case. The vast majority of progress comes from consistency and intelligent progression.
To ensure consistency and progression, your program has to be well thought out.
There must be a way for you to progress in either weight, reps, or workout density (amount of work done in a given time) as often as possible. This can be as simple as adding a set every week, increasing the weight on any given exercise, trying to break a rep record on your last set, or timing your workouts and trying to beat your time.
The workout must not be so hard that you dread it and make a habit of skipping it.
To be consistent you must be either highly motivated or enjoy your workouts.
Often times people start out on programs that are simply too challenging for their level of fitness. They would be much better off starting with a reasonable workload and gradually and progressively adding more work. Eventually the workout they have chosen may be perfect for them, but many people must build into their programs.
Start out “too light” and “too easy” and work on consistency first. Progression comes naturally when you’re consistently doing your workouts. Progression can be coaxed, but consistency must be built.
A great goal is to never miss a planned workout for a month. Even if you just go into the gym and drag yourself through a simplified workout, you’ll achieve much more than if you skip workouts and only train infrequently.
Fitness is all about adaptation. The workout provides the stress and when you recover, you get in better shape. If you’re only stressing the body now and then, you’re not giving yourself a reason to adapt.
It’s so important to look at the big picture. People often ask me what the best arm workout is, but only trained with appreciable intensity three times in the previous month.
They’re focused on the wrong details.
The exercises you choose are way less important than consistently doing them and progressively adding weight and reps to challenge yourself and ensure improvement.
Here are some simple tips to improve these key components of your program –
- Learn how to work out at home so you can eliminate the excuse of not being able to make it to the gym.
- Have an abbreviated version of your workout plan that you can do if you’re short on time.
- Try to always work out at the same time on the same days so that it’s easier to form a habit.
- Make consistency a goal and a priority. This is a process related goal which is one of my favorite kinds because it’s so effective.
- Give yourself credit for showing up and trying. Not every workout has to be an all out effort, especially when you’re new to the gym.
- Keep a notebook and track your rep, weight, and time records.
- Plan progression into your program.
- Learn to love breaking records. This is where a huge chunk of real progress is made, so celebrate your victories and personal records.
- If you progress for a long time and plateau, it may be time to switch workout programs or exercises.
- Don’t try to push progression too much or too fast. Shoot for small improvements in one area rather than overdoing it by adding both weight, reps, and density at the same time.
- Set rep and weight goals that inspire and challenge you to make constant progress.