The definition of consistency is "steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc."
Steadfast means "fixed in direction, unwavering."
Consistency, therefore, requires unwavering, steady devotion to the principles or course that is required to achieve your goals.
Who reached milestones in their career by working hard only on Mondays and Wednesdays? Who became strong by lifting when the felt like it? Who achieved the physique they dreamed of by working out every other week? Who lost weight by eating the right foods only when it was convenient?
The answer is nobody.
There are no shortcuts, no magical supplements, no magical pills you can take, and no perfect program that will give you the results you want in a few short weeks.
Reaching your goals is a process. A process that requires consistent hard work, determination, and unwavering devotion.
A person loses weight because they consistently stick to their exercise and nutrition program. A runner gets faster because they consistently log miles even when they are tired. A bodybuilder builds a great physique because they go to the gym no matter if they feel like it or not.
Is it possible to be consistent with your workouts 100% of the time? Probably not. Life will throw you curveballs making it hard to stay committed to the process. But, if you make daily efforts to be consistent, then over time, those daily efforts will turn into habits and habits make it easier to make those daily efforts you need to reach your goals.
Your body only cares about two things - staying alive and functioning as efficiently as possible.
This is the basis for all exercise goals to be reached.
I sometimes see people at the gym performing the same exercises with the same weight and for the same number of reps each time. Or running on the treadmill at the same speed for the same duration of time. They are placing the same exact stress on the body every workout.
And what happens?
That person looks exactly the same 6 months down the road.
The only way your body will ever change or improve the way you want it to is by creating stresses that proves to your body that these changes and improvements must be made.
Your body will not change or improve unless you force it to.
If your goal is just to do some exercise so you can have pizza and beer on the weekend, I have no issue with that. However, if you want to go beyond just exercising and set goals for yourself, then the principle of progressive overload must be applied in order to reach those goals.
The progressive overload principle is that it is necessary to stimulate the body with a stimulus which exceeds the stimulus the body has previously experienced or to which it is accustomed to in order to make the body.
There are numerous ways in which you can apply the progressive overload principle to your training:
1) Increasing the weight lifted
2) Increasing the number of repetitions performed with a given weight
3) Increasing the number of sets performed
4) Increasing the range of motion of an exercise
5) Shortening rest periods between sets
6) Performing more difficult variations of an exercise
7) Increase the frequency of training
By applying one these, you increase the demands that your body needs to meet. When you increase the demands of your body, then your body has no other choice but to make the necessary changes and improvements that will allow it to adapt to this new stress and become capable of performing it again.
You can follow the perfect program consistently, but if you do not focus on progressing from week to week, you will not see the positive results you are looking for.
Structuring your workouts adds purpose to your workout. There has to be a goal, something to aim for, something to reach for.
If you go in time and time again, doing random exercises for random sets and reps, with a random amount of weight, there is no way to monitor progression and therefor, makes it very hard to progress.
By having a set plan when you enter the gym, you go in with a purpose, an intent to get something accomplished and be better than you were last week.
When you are able to actually see tangible results from a week to week, or month to month basis, then it makes it easier to stay motivated, continue to work hard and reach your goals.
Here are 10 questions to ask yourself before you structure your workout plan:
1) What are my goals?
2) What does my training history entail and how long have I been training?
3) How many days per week can I honestly commit to training?
4) What type of training split will be most beneficial to my goals while staying within my time commitment?
5) Do I have any structural or physiological limitations that will prevent me from performing certain types of exercise(s).
6) What is my current ability level?
7) What type of training (strength, intervals, etc.) will help me reach my goals in the most efficient and optimal way possible?
8) What exercises should I be placing as a priority?
9) What are my weaknesses?
10)How can an element of progression (increasing weight, reps, decrease rest periods, etc.) be implemented in my program?
By asking yourself these questions, you will create purpose, a sense of "why" and a way to evaluate yourself. All of these allow you to structure your workout plan in a way that makes sense and make sure you are on your way to accomplishing your specific goals.
Purpose and structure in your workout plan is already winning half the battle. The other half is up to you to carry it out.
Maybe you already adhere to one of these principles. Maybe you adhere to two of the principles and already experience some decent results. I hope you learned about the importance of each one these principles, but more importantly, I hope you learned that all three of these build on one another.
Following one of these principles is great and a step in the right direction, but following all of them together, will allow you to finally make leaps and bounds towards accomplishing your goals.