The Athlete's Journey: 'Consistency'.
In part 1 of this 4 part series, we picked apart some of the phases of the beginner. Before heading into the "Conventional", let's talk a bit more about consistency and not just as it applies to a beginner, but to every phase and category.
As mentioned in the last article,
"there is a misconception with exercise that it needs to be hard to be effective. However, if we are trying to solidify acquisition, make sense of something and give our brains enough reps to understand patterns (another way of way 'neurological training'), do we really think that we have to make it harder...too?"
So in this beginner phase, what are we really trying to do? Behind the fancy words like "acquisition" & "neurological training", what we really hope happens is that we develop a habit.
If that's true, then lets have a frank conversation about the real habits you have in your life and how they got to be habits. Not flossing or making your bed, but watching watching netflix, sleeping, eating sugar on Saturday or sitting for 20 mins to poop. Not only are these things that we habitually do, but if you think about it, we're probably pretty good at them too.
The reason we are so good at activities like this is because they were easy to start and we enjoyed them. If so, then the question is:
how do you make something (i.e. exercise) enjoyable that, let’s be honest, isn’t that enjoyable?
We find something about it that IS enjoyable &
We make the other parts that aren’t as fun as doable as possible until the habit is formed.
Some folks love getting to wear workout or athletic clothes (they've come a long way!).
Some love the social aspect of group classes and being around like-minded people.
Some gravitate towards listening to music really loud and being in a place where it's okay to raise their voice
Others like having that one hour where they don’t have to think about their job or family (no offense children), &
some just like the variety of workouts and movements.
Make the other parts doable
Scale Everything - Listen for how to make the workout easier and take the coach up on every single scale option possible.
Finish first - modify the volume or length of the workout in order to finish right at the time the coach tells you to finish or right before.
Never get sore - within the reps of the workout, take a break or catch your breath before going to failure.
Doesn't sound like exercise at all, does it? We hear what you are thinking: “doesn’t it have to be hard to be effective?”.
Well it depends, but just for fun, let's do a little thought experiment:
We have two athletes* who start at the same time.
Athlete 1 believes that you have to really be working as hard as you can to get the results you want and BLASTS it every time they come in
They are able to handle 3 sessions a week and even do a little extra credit of stretching after the workout. They are super tired after the workouts and are sore the next day so they take some days off in-between sessions
Athlete 2 takes everything written above as gospel and makes it "enjoyable" and "doable".
Because they're never sore and enjoy coming in, they come in for 1 hour...every single day.
Let's do some quick arithmetic to see where they stand after 3 months:
Athlete 1 has trained 90 mins 3 times a week (if we count the extra credit as a 30 extra min, which is generous) for a total of 54 hours
Athlete 2 has trained 60 mins 7 times a week for a total of 84 hours
Who is saying what to themselves after the 3 months?
Athlete 1 might say - ‘this sucks. I’ve seen some changes, sure, but how do people keep this up?'
Athlete 2 says - "This is, uh, kinda easy and pretty fun to come in each time. Turns out, not that hard to show up every day, especially if I’m leaving feeling pretty good! I could do this forever"
Who do you think moves better?
Who do you think has more potential to progress?
In closing, we get asked alot "how often should we be working out?" and in truth, we should take the advice of legendary wrestling coach and olympic gold medalist who said "if it's important do it everyday"
Tune in next week as we tackle the next stage in the athletic journey: the Intermediate!
(*the two athletes are monozygotic twins with several years of inactivity starting a fitness program aimed at general fitness. nice try though)