First let me wish ya’ll a happy new year! Hopefully you survived it with all limbs intact. I took it upon myself to take it a bit easy during the holidays and not publish articles, podcasts and newsletters at the same rate. I’ve done the whole “no days off” and it’s a path to a very unhappy life. Anyway, back to real life...
If there’s one thing that I think just about everyone agrees on when it comes to training it’s that consistency is among the most important things. “Do the program that gets your ass to the gym”, “do the diet that you can manage”, “who gives a shit about all the complicated graphs, just lift heavy”. You might be surprised to read that I won’t really argue with any of these. Sure, they’re not necessarily true when it comes to optimal progression but the kernel of truth in all these and similar statements shouldn’t be underestimated. Do we really need one more article simply saying don’t miss training sessions and eat good food? Let me approach it from a different point of view.
A lot of people are much less consistent than they think they are. When it comes to eating (I use that word intentionally over “diet” because most people shouldn’t think about as being on one) many will say that they always eat well, yet when you ask them to log every bite and every sip for a week you will see that they aren’t as consistent about their good eating habits as they think. I know this because I’ve done it many, many times as a personal trainer.
When it comes to training you need to look at the adherence to a program. Did you really do all the sets as prescribed? Did you really do as much as you possibly could in that lat pulldown or could you actually squeeze out another repetition? Or five more? Or 10? Over and over I see people give up a set because it feels heavy yet when I force them to do more then they can. It’s their head giving out, not the muscle. This is not only true for beginners, I see it in advanced lifters all the time. The adherence to the training program is perhaps the most valuable part of hiring a trainer because now you’re not only held responsible to yourself but also to someone else. In other words, people who have a trainer have a much higher adherence to their training program.
What about the things outside of training? Are you taking your recovery seriously? Are you getting your eight hours of sleep (I can’t stress the importance of that enough!) and and are you in bed at a proper time instead of spending all night chatting with your pals?
If you answer yes to all of these questions, the eating, the training and the recover, I suggest you take a week or two and actually monitor everything. If you still answer yes you can consider yourself an outlier.
Now, all this doesn’t mean that you should beat yourself up if your stray from the path. In fact, you should allow yourself to do it on occasion unless you want to be a prisoner in your own head. The old 90% rule comes to mind: do all these things 90% of the time and you’re on a good path. That means that you can eat your candy on Saturdays (but not on Mondays) and stay up late a few Fridays per month. If you’re really serious about what you’re doing you might want to increase the percentage a bit but still allow a tiny bit of leeway. If you don’t, what kind of life are you really having?