In todays world everyone is looking for a quick fix. Maybe its getting 6 pack abs in a matter of weeks, or dropping numerous kilo’s in the space of a month. The world is fast paced and if social media is anything to go by then these results are totally achievable. However, if anyone has ever tried crash diets then you’ll know that quick, drastic ‘fixes’ are rarely, if at all maintainable. So, what should we really be aiming for from our countless hours in the gym or pounding the pavements?
One word; CONSISTENCY!
My background is with professional athletes, predominantly footballers. And whilst I am lucky to have scheduled strength and conditioning sessions with players throughout the weeks the biggest emphasis is always consistency. With professional athletes, a sudden unexpected increase or decrease in workload, be it in the gym, or on the pitch significantly increases the chances of those players picking up injuries, and it’s the same for everyone else.
"If you took a car that had been idle for 6 months and suddenly entered it into a 24hr race you wouldn’t need a mechanic to tell you that it wouldn’t be at its best, it may get through it, but would most likely pick up a few issues."
The human body is the same. Its well known that a half or full marathon needs training for, if you do one without the training beforehand your body will certainly let you know about it. That’s because you’re putting your body through an intense crash course of exercise that it’s not accustomed to. And by doing so you’re putting it on the edge of it’s capabilities, and more often than not you’ll tip it over the edge.
So, sporadic taxing bouts of exercise should be avoided, so what should we be doing instead? Well, even if you can only afford a few hours a week of exercise, by finding a manageable balance that you can consistently stick to will allow you to reap the rewards. In practical terms, what I’m suggesting is that a 30-60 minute long session, done a couple of times a week will be more beneficial than one or two massive bouts of exercise where you’re trying to cram everything in. Of course, with this approach goals may have to change. Rather than expecting results overnight focus on a seeing a consistent change over a slightly longer time, after all patience is a virtue. By aiming for consistency, you are more likely to create a habit that you will adopt, not a fad that you will likely drop.
The other benefit of shorter but more frequent bouts of exercise is that your body will get accustomed to the routine and adapt quickly. And it will most likely be able to go again the next day. If ever you’ve done a really intense and high volume session that’s pushed your body to breaking point, then you’ll about it for the next few days. And, if you were to try and repeat that session the day after there is no way your body could replicate those demands.
Now the not so small issue of life often gets in the way of our plans, I get that. But, if you can just donate a little time each week in a consistent manner towards exercise, you’ll be putting your body in a good place. It may be something as little as walking to work twice a week, or as grand as getting to the gym three or four times. Whatever you do, aim to do something you can see yourself sticking to. If you hate running, try cycling. If you hate the gym, try a sport. Life is too short to be doing exercises that we don’t like, so find what you like doing, and do it often. Remember, consistency is key.
Create a habit you adopt, not a fad that you drop!