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Consistency & Variation

Simplifying exercise: the two key components of success

If I could narrow down the top two most important components of exercise, it would be 1.) Consistency 2.) Variation. Although these two concepts seem counterintuitive side by side, they perfectly intermingle to create the formula for sustainable success. Here’s how:

1.) Consistency: what’s better - exercising intensely everyday for 6 months, or exercising 3-4 times per week for life? If you guessed the latter, you are correct. In fact, the approach of the former can actually be a reason for a lack of consistency. When people decide they want to begin exercising, we have a tendency to want to go all out right off the bat. However, this can be detrimental in the long run for two reasons. One reason is that we have a higher chance of becoming injured right away; the other reason is that we are likely to burn out both mentally and physically, resulting in a lack of sustainability. Exercise and fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. Start slow and work your way up to a volume that you can maintain. Simple as that.

2.) Variation: when we think consistency, we think of doing the same thing over and over again and creating regularity. Although we want to make a habit of exercising, that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to do the same type of exercise over and over again. In fact, never changing up your exercise routine can create complacency and cause you to plateau in your progress. Here’s a secret: our bodies don’t really want to change. The human body has a amazing way of adjusting to the stress that we place on it and, in turn, becoming resilient to that stress. Once it has adapted to a certain pattern, it will work as hard as it can to stay in place. A simple way to combat that is to consistently (there’s that word again) change up what we are doing. For example, if you have been doing the same strength routine for two years, it’s probably time for a change. Just by adding slight changes to the exercise, your body will be challenged in a new way and be forced to adapt and change that much more. And the best news it, the variations are almost endless. Not only is it important to change up what you do within a specific realm of training, but it is equally as important to train in all complements of fitness (unless of course you are an athlete training for a specific sport/event). In other words, if all you do is lift, make sure you add in some cardiovascular, flexibility, and mobility training as well. Being well rounded will put you in the best position possible to live a long, healthy, pain-free life. Lastly, adding some variation in your exercise will fight off the boredom that is sometimes associated with exercise. Try new things, expose your body to more, and have fun doing it.

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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