Consistency is Key: An insight into building a better you.
Coach 99 (Alex A) outlines what it takes to become a better athlete:
As a coach, I frequently get asked the same question- ‘How do I get better?’ This question may be specific to a particular lift, exercise or body goal but the essence is still the same. How do I go beyond my current level or capabilities?
Today I am going to give you some insight into what I consider to be the key elements to building a better you. This is not only applicable on the gym floor or on the track but will translate outside of the gym in your everyday life. As with most articles surrounding this subject you may have read, there is no quick fix or super supplements that are going to transform your performance or body overnight.
Assuming you are looking to really excel and make genuine progress – changing up your routine for a week ,or eating cleaner for a short period, is not going to be sufficient enough to get you the distance. The athletes seeing genuine results are the ones that are week in, week out, constantly challenging and maintaining a routine with specific goals in mind. It’s the time poor people that make time who are getting the results and it is here that the men are separated from the boys (for lack of a better analogy). Being sick, tired, overworked or any of the other common excuses we use in our day to day lives, are seldom used by those athletes that excel in their chosen field. That is not to say, if you have a broken arm to compete in Ninja Warrior, nor to run a triathlon with the flu… but rather listen to your body and give it the tools that it needs to recover, with the aim of coming back harder and stronger. In example, adverse weather conditions are not going to stop a determined athlete, rather he or she may choose to vary the training instead of calling it quits. It’s that extra bit of effort and developed mental strength that pushes an athlete to get out of bed an hour earlier or tie up those shoe laces when its cold and wet outside.
HAVE A VISION: Having a vision or end game is always helpful and an excellent tool to remind you as to why you are doing what you are doing. I am definitely not advocating training twice a day, 7 days a week, or so forth, but more so promoting the idea of introducing some form of program into your life in which you visualise what you are trying to achieve and go after it with a realistic plan of attack.
HAVE A TRAINING PLAN AND STICK TO IT: Having a training routine that is adaptable is imperative and in my opinion much more beneficial in this day and age. Distractions and busy work schedules, coupled with technology are common reasons many of us (including myself) sometimes are unable to get to training. Have you ever missed the class you intended to go to because of work and thought ‘S%&t, I’ve missed training today’, or ‘Oh well, I’ll do it another time’? I certainly have, but I have also learned that this is easy to let happen far too often and it leads to a less than effective training regime. To combat this, if I ever miss a session, I now substitute with a different class, time or activity to make sure I am still achieving something. After all it is better to do something than nothing. For example, if you miss the 6pm FX class, rather than putting it down to a lost session why not jump in on the 6.30pm Boxing session? It may not be your first preference in training style but the benefit of this is you are also potentially training in a way that you would not normally train, which ties back into adaptability and variation in training. Doing the things we don’t normally do or enjoy as much, only make us stronger.
Schedules and programs are exceptionally valuable and many people live a very routine life in which the same thing is done at the same time every day. For others, scheduling and organisation does not come naturally. But never fear, consistency doesn’t have to be unanimous with routine. Maybe you will choose to train 5 days a week with 2 days rest. If you are like myself who has a fairly unpredictable schedule, I set a weekly target for a minimum amount of training sessions that I want to achieve and I slowly chip away at it when I can. I know that it may not be a perfect schedule but it will be enough to be effective in helping me become a better athlete. The key is to get it done and not get caught up in the when or the how. Sometimes it is difficult to get in the right frame of mind to get it done, but at the end of the day your excuses are only holding you back from success.
GIVE EVERY SESSION 100% EFFORT: It is important to challenge your limits in every session, especially if you, like me, don’t know when or how your next session is coming. It is for this reason I am always sure to give 110% in every session in the case that I am not able to make my next session for one reason or the other. It is mostly mental here – you need to switch off the outside world for one hour or two hours and focus everything on giving your session everything you’ve got.
CONSISTENTLY ADAPT: At the end of the day the body is a remarkably adaptable piece of machinery and for best improvement in performance, requires constant and varied stimulus for progression. There are numerous ways to vary training, whether it be adding load, reps, sets, training days, tempos etc , the list goes on and I won’t go into that for the purpose of this article. As coaches, we program for variation in training so it is our recommendation if possible to try and stick to a set program, however if life has it that you cant stick to any one program, then simply aim to train consistently. The benefits will far outweigh not training at all. The point being to CONSISTENTLY adapt using any techniques necessary to achieve your goal. If you’re not sure how to do it – remember, that’s what we are here for.
The key message in all this? Stick to it. Benefits are seen in the long term not overnight. Trust in the process and know those that put in the work will ultimately come out on top.