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Two Keys to Workout Success

June 28, 2013 0 Comments

If you ever need a good laugh now and then, run on over to your local grocery store and take at look at the magazines and tabloids that adorn the checkout line. All the answers in life can be found there; how to make more money; how to have a loving relationship; how to dress like the stars; and my favorite, how to lose enormous amounts of weight in as little as five days. WOW!  This also happens to be one of the places where people turn to for their exercise advice or “miracle” panacea.  What is unfortunate is that in any of these publications, all that changes is the month and the cover.  The information inside is just recycled and repackaged to what sells.  When it comes to exercising or working out, there are only two “secrets” you really need to understand.  Even more amazing is that they are not really secrets either.  So whether you like cardiovascular exercise, strength training, core exercise, yoga, Pilates, etc., these two things bar none will get you results.  They are intensity and consistency.


The word intensity can send shivers to most people.  Working under extreme exertion or to the point of complete exhaustion is usually what comes to mind.  However, intensity in this context merely describes how hard you are working during exercise.  Intensity can be measured and determined in numerous ways: heart rate; power output (wattage); rating of perceived exertion (RPE); amount of rest between sets; amount of weight used; speed per unit of time; etc. Contrary to popular belief, sweating is not an indicator of how hard you work. The intensity of your exercise is highly correlated with the desired outcome.  If you want to lose weight you need to burn more calories. If you want to gain strength, you have to lift heavy weights.  But in order to keep seeing and getting results, you also need to vary the intensity.  Otherwise, you will be working tirelessly, getting no where as if trying to climb an icy slope, and eventually burn out or stop. Applying the principle of intensity is not enough either; you need to be consistent.


The word consistency is just as it says; something that is done repeatedly and with regularity.  Consistent behaviors lead to consistent results.  As the old adage says, “Keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” So yes it’s true, stay consistent with your exercise and you will see and more importantly, feel the results.  Conversely, being consistent does not always mean success either.  If you are consistently inconsistent with your exercise, the results speak for themselves.  Without its partner intensity, consistency is good but it just isn’t enough.  The best example of this is the avid exerciser who works out everyday, doing the same things the same way and in months or worse years, they still have not changed.  The focus of your workouts should always center first on being consistent, creating a healthy habit.  No exercise program ever developed works if you are not consistent. Then make sure that you find a way to measure your exercise intensity, or how hard you work, and regularly manipulate that.

There are numerous factors that contribute to success.  The depth and detail of these two subjects can be discussed beyond the scope of this article .However if you grasp these two simple concepts (secrets) and start with that, you are already on your way to success.  Change is difficult, but to change is to embrace and move on, not sit and wonder what you are doing wrong.  It is more likely what you are not doing right!


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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