The Currency of Fitness: Consistency

Posted: February 3, 2015 by TRU in Motivation, Random
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Frank Zane

As you might recall from the Ten Commandments of Training, consistency is one of the most crucial elements of fitness (yes, it’s in stone). So this week I’ve decided to take a closer look at what it means to be consistent and also discuss a simple hack that can prevent you from sabotaging your results.

Training Weekness

The week tends to be the yard stick training frequency is measured by. Research indicates that the body requires anywhere from 24-72 hours to recover from exercise induced muscle damage (more on recovery to come). That being said, while muscle groups can be emphasized, no muscle is an island. Thus, even an isolation exercise* for biceps is still going to overlap with and tax other muscles such as the shoulders, spinal extensors, and a variety of others. Generally this is not problematic for most gym-goers however, and should still allow for enough recovery to target a muscle 2-3 times per week*. So let’s look at this in a training routine.

Scott

*due to processes such as feed forward activation muscles cannot truly be isolated, but emphasized. Even a preacher/Scott curl requires postural and shoulder stabilizers to kick in, so you’re working more than just precious biceps…sorry Larry.

**most will respond best to training each muscle 2-3x/week but as always, experiment accordingly.

The Newbie

Skinny Man

Novices should typically begin with a full body training routine that emphasizes good form. Thus, they may wish to weight train every other day such as M, W, and F. The other days (T, Th, Sat, and Sun) can be split between cardio days, other physical activities (hiking, biking, dancing, etc.), off days, etc.  In training frequency lingo, this would be a 3 day/week routine since the main goal is weight training and everything else just fits around those days.

The Intermediate and The Veteran

Jusup2

Intermediate to advanced lifers tend to be better off with split routines e.g. upper/lower, or body part (chest, back, legs, etc.) specific.  Split routines allow for higher frequency of training since certain muscle groups are resting while the target muscles are being worked. For the reason explained above this is not entirely true, but a well programmed split routine should minimize overlap between muscle groups, maximizing recovery of the muscles you’re not intending to exercise.  In training frequency lingo, this would generally amount to 4-5 day/week training split…a tried and true configuration for most physique enthusiasts.

The Celebrity

sexy club

Obviously, there are other ways to get more creative than the sample routines above such as AM/PM splits, overreaching, and so forth, but those routines tend to be highly specialized and often not worth the effort for most physique enthusiasts (trust me I’ve taken the liberty of experimenting with countless training splits and most tend to make for splitting headaches more than superior results). Many celebrity workouts might also have you believe you can get amazing results with some ridiculous 8 day/week pump n tone training split…don’t be a sucker. Those who are on anabolic steroids, HGH, and other performance enhancing drugs/substances are also able to train with very high volume and respond well, but then again they could row a canoe and respond pretty well…so once again, don’t be a sucker.

Hold off on the sexy training splits of celebrities and your favorite pro bodybuilders.

Now Forget About Weeks!

Hopefully that clears up why most people think about training in weeks; a week is a nice and convenient way to package and structure a training routine…but that is where it should end! Now forget about how many days per week you’re going to train and start thinking about how many days per month you’re going to train. Let’s say you’re on a 4 day per week upper/lower split, if you don’t miss one day for the entire month you would be training approximately 17.4 days each month (on average). So round up to 18 and make that your target. Now your goal is to train 18 days per month using your same upper/lower split. Sound strange? In the end, your body won’t know the difference*…but there’s a good chance your mind will!

Training Days Conversion Table

Days/week

Days/month

2 days/week 9 days/month
3 days/week 13 days/month
4 days/week 17-18 days/month
5 days/week 22 days/month
6 days/week 26 days/month

*obviously try your best to not stack all training days in a row or you will surely overtrain!

The Beauty of The Month

Muscle Beach Girl

Thinking about training days per month instead of days per week has a few key advantages. For one, you’ll be less likely to think it’s the end of the world during a busy week where you couldn’t get to the gym on Monday to do your Monday workout. You’ve still got plenty of other days to get back on the horse. More importantly, a month is a bigger commitment than a week, and when you’re after results, you need to stop thinking about the short-game. In essence, thinking of training in days per month is more flexible, equally effective in the short run, and more effective in the long run. Not convinced yet?

Short of being on complete bed rest, one week isn’t going to make or break anyone’s fitness. Missing one week won’t make your muscles vanish into thin air, and training all 7 days for one week won’t suddenly make you a stud, so don’t get hung up on how many days you plan on training this week and start thinking of a period of time that makes more of a difference. Yes, a year would be more ideal than a month, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. A month is a nice balance between neither being too short nor too long.

In Summary  

Don Howorth-Frank Zane-Chet Yorton

 

I didn’t make the rules, but over the years I’ve learned a thing or two about how to play by them. Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to results. You can deny it all you want and try all the quick fixes and empty promises of effortless results to your heart’s content, but in the end the same message will be waiting for you; there’s simply no substitute for sensible and consistent training. Think of this as a mystery book where you get to choose different paths with alternate endings, only in this case you already know which path will lead to the best result; the consistent path. Now I’m not suggesting this path is easy, it isn’t, but neither is the alternative.

Off to the gym,

TRU

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