A Hare was making fun of the Tortoise one day for being so slow.
“Do you ever get anywhere?” he asked with a mocking laugh.
“Yes,” replied the Tortoise, “and I get there sooner than you think. I’ll run you a race and prove it.”
Consistency: steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.
We have a mantra in the CrossFit world, “Mechanics, Consistency, Intensity”. While all three of these factors are critical to the development of an athlete, let’s talk about consistency and how it plays a vital role in improving our health, fitness, and performance. One way to think about it is to picture consistency as the glue that holds mechanics and intensity together. It is the missing component for bringing your mechanics from a beginner’s level to an advanced level. Conversely, it allows us to practice things at a high-intensity level. Without consistency, high power movements become risky, potentially even dangerous.
In the gym, consistency is the single biggest differentiator between athletes who achieve their goals and those who fall short. Not only in the gym but also outside of the gym, consistency remains paramount. If you want to optimize health, fitness, and performance; nutrition, sleep and stress management must remain consistent. Below we are going to unpack some practical ways to improving your consistency inside and outside of the gym.
- Make small, sustainable changes. This might sound simple, it is in theory. But the temptation to go from 0-100 is ever present in our current quick fix culture. We want the result FAST. Give us the pill, new fad diet, gadget hack. This is just another way of prioritizing Intensity over Consistency. The fact is to build the habit of doing things well, we must build those habits over small changes. These small changes will allow us to maintain them (consistency). An important caveat, small changes don’t necessarily have to be slow. Depending on the circumstances and capacity of the individual they can happen quickly or slowly. How can we build these sustainable changes? Assess what you are currently doing and try to improve by 1%. Don’t worry about being 100% perfect. Don’t try to go from training 3 days a week to pulling two a days. Just try to work 4 days a week or maybe 5.
- Behaviors not outcomes. We have all been taught how to make SMART goals, right? Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Result-focused, Time-bound. That is a good start but if our goals stay there we will never see them accomplished. After setting those SMART goals we must shift our focus from the outcome to the behavior that will lead us to the outcome. Outcome goal: I want to lose 20 lbs. Behavior goal: I am going to workout 5 days this week and prep my lunches. The difference is behavior goals lead you to an ACTION. Behavior goals allow us to practice consistency. Because the fact is you cannot force your body to an outcome but you can consistently control your behaviors.
- Get a coach and find your tribe. We live in a culture that likes to romanticize about independence. Doing things on my own, the maverick, the rebel. But the fact is no matter what the movies portray, we need others in our life if we want to reach our fullest potential and make a big change/impact. This applies inside and outside the gym. If we want to improve our consistency we need coaches to guide us and community to surround us. This is a huge reason why the CrossFit movement has exploded. In the US we have never before lived in such a fractured society. Not just in politics but in all facets of life. This fracturing makes it difficult to remain consistent. FIND YOUR PEOPLE.
It really is the tortoise who wins. Stay consistent, stay strong.