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Why ‘Consistency’ Is Easier Said Than Done: This Is What It Really Looks Like


7 NOV 2023

Last week we had some good friends over. My wife handed me a jar with some chilli peppers in it, which was proving difficult to open. Okay gym boy. Time to bring out the big guns and show her why she married me, right? You and me both know she saw the biceps on date #1 and liked what she saw.

But to my dismay, this little bastard of a jar wasn’t having it - I spent a good minute working at this newly found nemesis of mine, growing more and more concerned, until finally, mercifully, my good friend looked to me and said ‘come on, you’ve had enough - let me have a go’. And sure enough, with one twist of brute force, it finally popped, and being the occasionally insecure man that I am, I INSTANTLY said something along the lines of ‘well done mate, I probably loosened it up for you didn’t I emoji eyes’.

Although emasculated and definitely clutching, maybe there was at least a hint of truth to my claim. Certainly, when you consider the things that most people strive for in life - wealth, health or a fit body - the ‘compounding effect’ is possibly the single most important concept for us to understand to get where we want to be. It is a phenomenon which can turn £10 into a £1 million over 30 years, a ‘good’ diet into a damaging one with 1 particular vice taken to excess, or turn a tired body into a lean and mean one with years and decades of repeatedly just showing up and moving the body in different ways and at varied intensities.

“I don’t fear the man with 10,000 kicks, I fear the man who has 1 kick he has practiced 10,000 times” - Bruce Lee

This is what most people don’t grasp when it comes to health and exercise (most of us never had the privilege of being taught it with money either). All that good stuff you want to see is not a result of completing a 12-week programme, or going hard for 9 weeks from 1st January - 1st March then forgetting you have a gym membership til 2024. It’s about turning up again and again for decades and simply doing the work, until training is something you barely even think about - you just do it.

I was fortunate enough that when I was in my early teens, my brother had some dumbbells, one of my friends was really into fitness, doing press ups and sit ups and making me want to do the same, and when I turned 16, my mum got me a gym membership for my birthday. I was able to subconsciously build the habit of training regularly from that point - and here we are 19 years later, what has changed? Nothing really, just the content of the workouts. That’s nearly 2 decades of compounding different benefits - compounding strength, technique, proprioception, resilience, mobility, general fitness levels.

By the end of this year I will have carried out close to 150 strength training / gym sessions, and let me tell you, when you have a day where you feel ‘off it’, or you even need to take an extra recovery day, you don’t worry about it because you are backed up by those sessions. They say ‘repetitions give you confidence’ - it gives you the confidence to be patient, focus on precision, go very, very hard when it’s time to go hard, and moderate your intensity when it is time to be smart - without fear of ‘losing them gainz’.

Intensity is also an important aspect to acknowledge here - you know that your £10 per month will grow to £1m much faster if you deposit £20 instead, or better yet £200, and it’s exactly the same that your deadlifts will make you stronger if you can progress from 10kg, to 20kg, to bodyweight, and so on. Going from saving £0 per month to hundreds immediately is far fetched - so is never deadlifting before then attempting 200kg. The intensity you work at for exercise has to be realistic, progressive and calculated - because guess what, if it isn’t? You will not be still doing it this time next year, never mind this time next decade.

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