When we think of consistency, an enduring image is of a person showing up at the gym at the same time and doing the same workout day after day. The words predictable and reliable often come to mind to describe that person. Some folks may even go so far as to call that person boring.
Intensity conjures up images of scowls (or frowns), sudden bursts of strong activity, almost animal-like noises, all-out exertion, and a distinct sense of being wiped out after the activity is all over.
It would seem on the surface, that consistency and intensity are completely incompatible. But it is possible to bring consistency and intensity together in the same workout. Keeping a few guidelines in mind will help the process along.
Respect the Nature of Each Type of Workout
Consistency is what a person needs to be successful in the long run. Consistency is about performing at the same level time after time. One of the most insidious drawbacks to being consistent, though, is a decline in enthusiasm for the activity. If not caught in time, a person could get to the “going through the motions” stage without realizing it. This does not bode well for workout progress.
Enter intensity. By definition, intensity is high energy, but short lived, which does not lend itself to being consistently performed. Adding a higher-intensity activity at certain points in a regular exercise routine increases the amount of energy the exerciser expends. If the doses of intense activity are small enough, they can be added to the workout on a consistent basis. This effectively gets rid of the going through the motions tendency and brings the workout to a productive activity level.
Take the Individual Into Account
Some people are the slow and steady type. Tortoises. They take moderation to a whole new level. These are the folks who walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike or use an elliptical trainer for an hour at a time.
Other folks don’t feel like they’ve worked out unless they’re dripping with sweat and look like they’re going to drop from exhaustion at any minute. Aesop would label them Hares.
If burning fat is the primary goal, the tortoises have the right idea. If building more muscle is the goal, the sweat-drippers are heading in the right direction. If both groups want to achieve both fat-burning and muscle building, they have to make some adjustments.
Adding intensity to the Tortoises’ workout, for example, a resistance routine, and a more moderate activity to the Hares’ drop-dead workout would get both groups effectively advance toward their fitness goals. At the same time, their basic natures – Tortoises and Hares – are respected and represented in their exercise routines.