Why Consistency Is Paramount To Your Success In The Gym
February 1st 2020
Contrary to popular belief, working out is very simple.
As long as you follow a good program, eat a healthy diet with enough protein, and get enough sleep, you will grow muscle.
However, many people try and overcomplicate this process, looking for ways to grow muscle faster.
You may have heard from the internet that xyz program is the best.
Or your friend says zyx program is the best.
All these conflicting opinions might have you switching back and forth between different programs as you are looking for the best program for results.
You Don’t Have to Be Extreme, Just Workout Consistently
Consistency and discipline are the two factors that will heavily determine how you will progress in the gym. Although they can (and will) be boring, it is the boring stuff that works and generates results.
Alternatively, you might have heard people say that if you aren’t seeing results, you aren’t working hard enough in the gym.
However, the truth is, building muscle takes time and the most important thing you need in order to get results in the gym is being consistent.
In fact, working out consistently is even more important than working out extremely.
Let’s dive into the myth of extreme workouts.
The Myth of Extreme Workouts
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to weightlifting is the idea that your workouts need to be extreme, and that you need to push yourself to failure each set.
That if you aren’t sweating bullets, or so sore that you can’t walk properly the next day, you are not putting enough work in the gym.
Heard any of these sayings before?
Fortunately, none of these sayings have any scientific backing towards them.
In fact, science shows that you don’t need to kill yourself during each and every workout in order to achieve significant muscle growth.
On the contrary, going hard and reaching failure during each and every gym session will set you up for failure in the long run.
After all, going hard until failure puts tremendous strain on your body.
Doing so for a prolonged period of time could lead to overtraining which makes it so that you have to take time off from the gym and rest.
By doing this over a long period of time, you are decreasing the overall volume placed on your body, despite “going harder” during each workout.
In addition, going hard may result in rhabdomyolysis which is a disease that involves the breakdown of muscle tissue and requires months to recover from.
If going extreme during every workout is so detrimental, then what is the alternative?
The answer is simple.
Rather than going hard at each session in the gym, focus on going to the gym consistently, performing the same exercises with progressive overload over time.
By doing this consistently, you will get stronger and bigger.
Imagine this scenario.
You go to the gym and perform pull ups. You push yourself to failure during each set.
Let’s say your maximum is 9 pull ups.
The day after, you are extremely sore, and you don’t go to the gym. You need to take a rest day. You do this and perform pull ups 3 times a week.
Your total amount of volume/pullups completed each week is 9x3 = 27.
Now in the same scenario, imagine instead of going to the gym and performing your max pull ups (9), you stop short of failure and perform 7 pull ups.
This is still difficult for you but isn’t as difficult as trying to perform 9.
You wake up the next day, feeling a little sore but not overly that you cannot make it to the gym.
So, you continue this and perform pull ups 5 times a week.
Your total amount of volume/pullups completed each week is 7x5 = 35.
You performed 8 more pullups that week by training consistently rather than training to failure.
Continue this for a year, and the difference is 416 pullups.
Who do you think will be stronger/bigger at the end of the year? The person who pushed themselves and trained until failure each session, or the person who trained consistently and performed 416 more pullups?
Now let’s demonstrate this scenario in the form of Starting Strength 5x5.
Working out: Extreme vs Consistency using Starting Strength 5x5
In Starting Strength, you are performing two different workouts for 3 times per week on nonconsecutive days.
Let’s say you adopt the mindset that you must be extreme during each of your workouts.
As a result, rather than training using the appropriate weight for your level with proper form, you overexert yourself, trying to lift a weight that is too heavy which results in form breakdown.
As mentioned in our other articles, maintaining proper form is crucial for your health and safety.
By training extreme and trying to lift weights you cannot manage resulting in poor form, you are putting yourself at risk for serious injury.
And if you believe in the extreme mindset of “No pain no gain”, you are on your way experiencing a life-long injury from lifting.
Pain is a way for your body to tell you that something is wrong.
By ignoring pain, and continuing to lift, you will injure yourself.
Lifting through pain could result in serious injuries that will lead to long-term consequences and will take you out of the gym for months.
You should be working hard during your gym sessions, but you shouldn’t be going to the extreme and reaching failure every session.
Alternatively, let’s say that instead of working out extremely, you work out consistently.
You perform the appropriate amount of weight, with proper form, and workout on the days you need to work out.
If you feel the weight is too heavy and your form is breaking down, you back off and try it again next week.
Sure, it might not be satisfying to stop short of a new PR even though you can do it by pushing yourself, but in the long run, you will be able to lift for a lot longer without any injuries.
With time, your body will adapt and get stronger so that you can progressively lift more and more weight with proper form.
You cannot rush or force the process by believing all you need is to put more effort into your lifts.
Consistency is what leads people to become better stronger athletes and being consistent in going to the gym is much more important than going hard or switching programs each session in effort to trying to find a “shortcut” or “secret” to faster gains.
The Myth of Motivation
One of the greatest misconceptions regarding doing something consistently is the idea that you require motivation in order to do things.
If we only do things because we feel like it, we won’t ever get anything done in life.
You see, your body likes taking the easy way out of doing things.
Some days you will feel motivated to go to the gym, but most days you will not.
I’m sure if you ask professional bodybuilders and powerlifters, they will tell you the same thing.
Rather than relying on motivation to power you to work out, you should instead look into developing self-discipline.
Self-Discipline is doing the things that you don’t want to do but know you should do.
Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more you practice it by either forcing yourself to do things you don’t want to do but should do, or by restraining from things you know you shouldn’t do, the stronger it will get and the easier it will be to stay consistent or refrain from bad habits.
The good thing is, once you develop a little self-discipline, it becomes easier and easier to do the things you should do, but don’t feel like doing.
In addition, by developing self-discipline, you will be able to accomplish more in life and reach your goals faster because you will be less distracted.
Therefore, it is important not to rely on motivation for your workouts and instead, focus on self-discipline.
And the key to developing self-discipline in working out is by making a strict schedule and timeframe of when you go to the gym.
That way, you stay consistent and will end up with much better progress in the gym rather than if you were to rely solely on motivation.
Consistency: Boring but Effective
If you feel that consistency is boring, you are not alone.
However, it is necessary for humans to achieve anything in life.
Do you think that professional bodybuilders or powerlifters are the way they are because they train once a week?
Do you think professional athletes are at the level they are at because they took “off-days” because they weren’t feeling motivated enough to go to practice?
Look at the work ethic of those who have accomplished anything significant in life.
Chances are, they are up early in the morning, doing something that aligns with their goal every single day for hours.
It’s not motivation that gets them to do that.
It is self-discipline and consistency.