Consistency vs Intensity

I’m sure we’ve all seen it on FB and Instagram. The posts that go:

  • I’ve smashed a killer workout
  • I’m so hard, I’ve run xxx. I’ve squatted xxx
  • I’m so sore, I did xxx

These posts shout out about Intensity. But we hardly hear anything about Consistency.

  • Yay, I ate my greens 5 days in a row.
  • Yay, I drank a glass of water

It’s not very Instagram, is it.

But it is a mistake. Because most of us need more consistency vs intensity.

I’ve done it too. I’ll decide enough’s enough. I’m gonna train 6 times a week. Work till my knuckles are blue. Stop eating everything I enjoy that isn’t green. But the reality is that 3 days later, I’m too sore to work out. I’m too tired to work. And I’ve raided the children’s treat bowls.

But most of us don’t need one off smash-fests. What we need is consistency.

Far better to work out 3-4 times a week. For 50 weeks of the year. Than to workout so hard that you’re so sore and need to miss the rest of the week. It’s the same with diet: far better to make good choices most of the time. Than to go on a week-long detox / cleanse / juice fast. Because the reality is that this bout of high-intensity is just that: a bout. It’s practically impossible to keep them up long term. You wind up exhausted, sore, starving, craving all the food, burnt out, whatever. So the choice between intensity and consistency are key.

The trouble is that consistency isn’t very sell-able compared to miracle diet pills, detoxes or fitness fads. We don’t want marginal gains, week on week. We’d rather impressive results, right now, thank you very much. Consistency isn’t very exciting. It isn’t very glamorous. And it is pretty hard too.

But think about it like this:

  • (1.00)^365 = 1
  • But (1.01)^365 = 37.7
  • Heck, even (1.001)^265 – 1.44

Imagine that, a 44% improvement over a year. Just be making a 0.001 effort… (OK I’m sure the maths is a bit dubious, but lets go with it!) Worth it, isn’t it? But the trick is, it has to be consistent!

When you are consistent in what you do, you develop habits and routines that are more sustainable and last a long time.

The keyword here is “sustainable”. This is why so many people give up on the things they do, before they’ve got the results they wanted. Before they reach their goal. Because the change was unsustainable.

We need to practice patience. We need to stay the course even if we don’t see progress. Change takes time. Much more time than we expect!

I’ve started taking this approach with my training. I’ve rehashed my plans so that I leave the track or the gym before I’ve had enough! Before I’m pooped, exhausted.

So I tell myself: Well done, I’ve nailed this workout, this was totally do-able.

If I’m defeated by the workout, if it drags on too long, then I’m unlikely to want to do it again anytime soon!

So if you want to start implementing a new habit, make it a super simple one. For example: you can’t go from drinking no water, to drinking 3 litres overnight. But how about starting each day with a glass of water.

Think of each habit you consistently practice as an upgrade to your current state of being. Practice it over time and you evolve into a better version of yourself.

PS Like this content? It’s actually a Chapter from one of our nutrition courses. Find out more here.