There are many factors that influence the results you get from your exercise regimen. These three are what I consider the essentials for getting the results you want:
1. Consistency – This is by far the most important factor. In fact, it is indispensable. No matter how hard you work or what physical activity you engage in, you are wasting your time if you aren’t consistent. So what is consistency when it comes to exercise? Well that is largely determined by what kind of time you are willing and able to put aside for exercise. But the minimum recommended frequency is three times per week. If you can start there, you are on your way. After you’ve maintained that for a few weeks, then work towards 4-5 times per week to optimize your results.
2. Intensity -Without intensity, you are just going through the motions. I see so many people in the gym who are just doing the exercise with minimal effort. There really is no point in bothering if you aren’t pushing yourself even a little. The human body simply must be challenged in order to change. William Blake said, “You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough.” Explore those edges and find out what you can do without hurting yourself. There is a fine line between enough and too much. Be as conscious as you can about what you are feeling and where you are feeling it when exercising. With practice, you will learn your limits. Of course I do recommend consulting with a fitness professional to learn how to test those limits safely.
3. Variety – Our bodies are designed to adapt. The goal here is to keep your body guessing, to stay one step ahead of that adaptation point. Because once your body adapts to a certain activity or even a certain intensity, it finds a easier way to do it. In other words, it learns how to perform that activity with less effort. And seeing as how your intention with exercise is to optimize your effort, adaptation would be counterproductive. I cannot tell you how many times people have come to me and said: “But I run/walk/bike five miles a day, six days a week and I am not losing any weight.” My response: “Change your activity and your body will change. Your body gets bored just like your mind gets bored.”
So frequently change up the type or mode of exercise, the intensity of exercise, even the order in which you perform the exercises. The key is to change as little as possible at a time to see what gets results so you can identify what worked and so you have plenty of options available when it comes time to change them again.
I promise you that if you adhere to these three factors, you will get better results than you are getting now. And with results comes inspiration!