• Nicola Dale

Consistency, Consistency, Consistency

We’ve all been there; you’ve decided to start a new exercise routine, you’re super pumped, hit 5 or 6 sessions a week and then nothing. You lose your motivation and before you know it you’ve not worked out for weeks. 

The problem is motivation only takes you so far and then discipline has to come in. But this is very difficult when you’ve set your sights so high. 

A lot of people have a very all or nothing approach to fitness and think if they’re not working out most days then they’re not doing it right. But what is right in fitness? There’s no one look or routine you have to conform to, it’s whatever you want it to be and what you’re able to stay consistent at. 

And here’s the key; consistency. 

So today I’m going to share my top tips for creating a consistent routine, all of which I use and have worked for me.

Women in boxing gloves practicing boxing

1. Don’t aim for too much at once 

Making drastic changes isn’t sustainable, instead make little ones that are easy to stick to, create a habit and then build up from there. For example, if you’re currently hardly exercising, don’t suddenly decide you're going to go to the gym 6 times a week because it’ll be difficult, you’ll find reasons not to go and when one week you don’t hit 6 sessions you’ll feel unmotivated. Instead aim for 3 times a week consistently every week and try to get more activity in, in your day to day life. 

If your interested in joining the gym check out these posts:

- So You Want to Start Lifting

- The 6 Foundational Movement Patterns

- 5 Tips for Making Exercise a Habit

2. Set yourself SMART goals

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based goals. Think about what you want to achieve and set goals based exactly on that. 

For example, a really common goal I hear is ‘I want to tone up’. To turn this into a SMART goal you need to really understand what it means. Toning up means to lose body fat in order to reveal the muscle underneath. But, what a lot of people don’t realise is to get this toned look you actually need to build muscle as well. So SMART goals related to the goal of losing fat and building muscle might be:

  • Complete 3 resistance training workouts a week.

  • Lose 7lbs in 7weeks (1lbs a week on avg). 

  • Increase the strength in my upper/lower body in the next 6months. 

These goals are specific, you can measure them through photos, weights used, days worked out, etc., they’re achievable in that they’re not extreme, they are relevant to your goal of losing fat and building muscle to ‘tone up’ and they are time-based. 

Break down exactly what your specific goals are and what your why for exercise is. Then take the time to learn what it is that will get you your desired results. 

For reasons why you should exercise check out Reasons to Exercise that aren't Weight Loss

And for more goal ideas check out Fitness Goals and Motivation

3. Be disciplined

There will be days where you don’t want to do it and you find every excuse under the sun not to show up. And on those days you have to use a little self-discipline. Remind yourself how good you feel after a workout, choose to do something you enjoy doing so that you know you’ll have fun once you’ve started, play your favourite songs to pump you up. Anything that will get you moving and help you show up. Because once you’ve started you’ll likely find the motivation to carry on. 

I was listening to a Ben Coomber Radio podcast the other day and they suggested just getting to wherever you workout, start doing some light cardio/stretches to warm up and you’ll quickly see whether you actually don’t have the energy to move or whether it was just in your head.

For tips for motivation check out 5 Tips for Motivation

4. Take time off

All that being said, it is very important to give yourself time off. In weightlifting we call this a deload week. For that week you either lower the intensity of your workouts, or take the week off altogether. This isn’t to say don’t move at all, instead just light movement like walking, stretching, yoga, swimming or continue weightlifting with lighter loads. Anything that doesn’t place as much stress on your body, allowing it to fully recover from residual fatigue. You’ll find you come back from your rest week excited about your training again and you won’t have lost any progress. 

How do you know when to take a week off? Your progress plateauing, feeling burnt out and feeling fed up with your workouts are all signs it's time to take some time off. You can also time them with your holidays. Usually, holidays are a great source of motivation for exercise because you want to look and feel your best. You’ve worked really hard up until you go, so during is a great time to allow your body to fully recover. Think about it, you view holidays as a break from work to rest and recharge, so use the same time to rest and recharge from training. Plus what better places to splash about in the pool, go for walks to explore and generally slow down your days. 

A spa facility. Sofa with mood lighting and coffee table next to big windows looking out onto the spa pool. Warm amber tones, flowers and very cosy feeling

5. Reward yourself

When you’ve reached a goal reward yourself. This could be a new dress, a trip to the spa, a meal out, your favourite bottle of wine, anything that excites you and will help you get up and move on those days you're relying on discipline over motivation. 

6. Find joy in the process 

Big goals are great, but they take time to achieve so it’s important you enjoy the process if you’re going to stay consistent and reach that end goal. Celebrate the small wins along the way, train in a way that leaves you feeling great at the end of every workout and focus on the benefits you get by simply moving regularly. 

If you’re not enjoying your current routine, try switching it up and incorporating different styles of training to keep it interesting. For example, I love weight training but find mobility work that really benefits lifting, quite boring. Recently however, I’ve found a new love for pilates and have been using that style of training for my mobility work. I’m enjoying it much more, actually sticking to it regularly which is helping me improve my lifting and work towards my main goals whilst enjoying the process. 

7. Forgive yourself for setbacks and simply carry on

Everyone misses a session or has a ‘bad’ week. It’s normal and doesn’t mean you need to start again. Don’t let it upset you, just carry on from where you left off. I promise you a few bad days won’t undo all your hard work.

And that’s it, my 7 tips for creating a consistent workout routine. Have you got any tips to add? Leave them in the comments below. 

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