Anyone can start a workout routine, but in order to be successful, you need to stick with it. Unfortunately, that seems to be the number one reason why people fail at reaching their fitness goals.
As mentioned earlier in this post about reaching your goals faster with EMS, many people start the year off with a bang, join a gym, set goals and have every intention of sticking with them. Somehow though, within a relatively short amount of time, they are off track and not any closer to their goals as the day they started.
So, how do you develop consistency in your workout routine, and does it even matter?
Why is Consistency So Important?
Without consistent workouts, your body won’t see any real benefits. In order to see an increase in muscle mass, you need to put your muscles under consistent and progressive stress. In order to improve your cardiovascular health, you need to regularly increase your heart rate and condition your body to transport oxygen throughout the body at a more effective rate.
If you want to see visible changes in your body or feel more energy and vitality, you won’t get them from inconsistent workouts. You get these results from consistent workouts.
5 Actionable Ways to Develop Consistency in Your Workout Routine
Instead of giving you spouting some motivational quotes, this article will give you five actionable steps that you can take today to help you improve your consistency.
With each step, there are potential roadblocks that you might come across. We’ve outlined how to find a detour around those roadblocks.
1. Plan Ahead
As much as a goal without a plan is just a dream, spur of the moment workouts are a set up for failure. If you want to be consistent, you need to plan your workouts ahead.
The best way to do this is to have a calendar and write down when and where you will workout on what days. This helps you to maintain consistency because it separates the decision from the action.
When you plan ahead you can also plan for slow and steady progression. It also allows you to work toward a goal. Instead of working out with no plan of action, you’ll have a roadmap of sorts to follow.
Not only will this be more manageable, but you can also track your progress which will give you more motivation in the long run.
Possible roadblock: unrealistic expectations
When starting a workout plan, you can easily plan more than you’re ready for. We want the quickest way from flabby to fit, and we can over-schedule ourselves with workouts that we can’t maintain.
Be realistic and consider using a preplanned workout schedule that you can download from the internet that fits your fitness levels and goals.
2. Attach it to a habit
Habits are hard to form, but one of the easiest habit-forming hacks is to attach your desired new habit to one you already have. This is called chaining.
The best way to do this with your workouts is to use a time and place that you visit consistently and a routine that you do every time you visit this place at that time.
For example, do you walk the dog after work every morning? Why not attach your workouts after you walk your dog?
Possible roadblock: excuses
When it comes to chaining, you can easily find excuses pop up between actions. Instead of walking the dog and immediately going to work out, you could be distracted and before you know it, your chain is broken, and your workout hasn’t been completed.
Don’t allow room for this by keeping your chain connected and not allow anything to break the chain.
3. Reward your success
You can keep yourself motivated and stimulate your brain to enjoy your workouts more by rewarding your workouts. Each time you successfully complete a workout, you should have a small reward that triggers the brain to feel content.
Then, instead of dreading your workouts, you’ll begin to look forward to them and improve your consistency.
Possible roadblock: rewards aren’t attached to fitness
For these rewards to work, they need to be given every time you workout and immediately after your workout. They should also be reasonable.
Many of the suggested rewards out there aren’t good because they don’t fit into these guidelines or they work against your goals. Eating a slice of cheesecake after every workout might get you to consistently workout, but it won’t help you reach your fitness goals. Buying yourself an outfit every workout might help you be consistent, but can you afford it?
4. Make a commitment
When you have a commitment made to your workouts, you will be less likely to skip them. There are several ways to commit to workouts.
The most popular example of a commitment is to get a training partner. This means that instead of showing up for yourself, you are showing up because you told your partner you would. We tend to be more willing to do things because we don’t want to let others down.
You could join a class or boot camp that lasts for several weeks. This would ensure that you are invested because you paid for this class and you also have a clear and set up time schedule, which also takes care of action #1 in this article.
Possible roadblock: weak commitments
In order for a commitment to work it needs to be concrete. You can’t just make a verbal commitment to yourself and expect it to work. You haven’t shared it with anyone or taken any actions to make it real.
5. Be Flexible
Workouts are important, but life happens anyway. There may be times when you have a workout planned but you just can’t make it. Don’t let that one blip in your consistency throw off your whole momentum.
It’s also important to know what is working and what isn’t. Are you pushing yourself too hard? Is a certain workout a bit above your fitness level? Are you feeling more tired than usual? It’s ok to take things down a notch.
It’s better to be consistent with a lower fitness level than set yourself up for failure with a workout routine that you can’t maintain.
Possible roadblock: being too slack
Sometimes we can notice that we need to take things down a notch and end up taking them down permanently. It’s important to take you rest, but don’t take so long of rest that you get too far off track that you need to start all over again.
Find Your Own Personal Why
These five listed tips for maintaining consistency in your workouts can be used individually or in conjunction with each other. You may find that one tactic works better for you or they all work but some are easier to maintain. Be willing to try them all and see which one fits your life best.
Another important way to maintain your consistency is to find your personal reasons you want to work out. Be honest with these reasons. Write them down and put them somewhere that you see every day.
Having your reasons displayed and reminding yourself why you are working out to begin with, can help you to combat the temptation to skip your workouts.
Charles Laverty is chief executive officer and founder of Nuzuna. Mr. Laverty has committed four decades to health and fitness starting with his studies in physical education at Parsons College in Fairfield Iowa. An advocate for wellness and physical education, Mr. Laverty is a well-regarded writer and speaker on issues affecting the US healthcare system including adult and childhood obesity, coronary disease and healthcare reform.