CONSISTENCY vs INTENSITY
By Cathal O’Shea
SOLAS Health & Fitness
What is the most important factor in training, nutrition, skill development, in fact, most things that you want to get better at?
Being able to squat 100kg?
Eat like a saint for week?
Drinking water like it’s going out of fashion?
No, unfortunately it’s none of the above. For me THE most important factor is CONSISTENCY, not Intensity. In a world where everything is about instant gratification, this can be a difficult pill to swallow for some people.
People want results now, yesterday if possible. So they think right, if I would normally burn 400 calories in this session I’ll just work Twice as hard and I’ll burn 800. I haven’t trained in 4 weeks, I’m gonna do a marathon 3hr session to make up for it.
This just isn’t a smart way to achieve your health and fitness goals.
No issues with people working hard, but crushing yourself in the gym every time you walk through the door (and crawl out) is not a sustainable approach. Always remember that exercise is not punishment and food is not a reward.
Although it isn’t as sexy a facebook update, what about aiming to average 2 x gym sessions/week over the year rather than 14 sessions in the first week and none for the rest of the year? All you will get from this approach is enough muscle soreness to kill a small dog and a general dislike of going to the gym in future.
Even though you will have weeks where you do a bit more and work a bit harder and even more weeks where life gets hectic or exercise isn’t a priority, you must ask yourself the question, is this sustainable?
Consistency is king, it is by far the most important quality you can possess when it comes to making lasting changes. So why doesn’t everyone just do that? Well, because it’s hard, that’s why.
That’s also why it’s important to make training part of your lifestyle and build nutritional habits slowly so that they last for a lifetime not just for that (insert social event here). Adding layer after layer of high quality training sessions, week in week out, year after year and good sustainable nutritional habits lays the foundations for a life of happiness and health. You don’t have to crush yourself every time you enter the gym, yes work hard, but be smart, listen to your body. Stress is stress, your central nervous system can’t tell the difference between your boss wrecking your head or you lifting a heavy deadlift. Your Allostatic load is the cumulative stresses that you have in your life at that time, this should always be a factor in your training, use that information wisely!
A smarter approach to your training will let your body tell you when it needs something more sympathetic dominant (fight or flight) or something more parasympathetic dominant (rest and digest).
Some of our sessions in SOLAS are stressors, they have to be, in order to make sure the body is progressing you have to give it a stressor so that it can adapt to that stressor, but too much or too frequent and eventually something has to give. Some of our sessions in SOLAS are more recovery based, where we do more breathing drills, less intensity/volume, more of a mobility focus, more aerobic less anaerobic.
Did you ever notice that when you go for a walk you generally feel better afterwards? That is because you are doing something that moves your central nervous system more towards a parasympathetic state. Some people are so over-stimulated with video games, caffeinated drinks, constant notifications on mobile devices, hyper-palatable foods, that trying to get them to relax, clear their mind and take a few calming deep breaths can be a challenge in itself.
Try it now, close your eyes and take 5 long slow deep breaths, in your nose out your mouth, I defy you to tell me you don’t feel better afterwards!