If it doesn't, I'm not sure what potato was filling out that list.
I realized just recently, that everyone talks about consistency and the importance of it, yet no one talks about how to build consistency into programming, or somehow account for it. Consistency has become a mantra, or a "mindset". It's just something people say that sounds important, because well, it is. However no one really bothers to put a stamp on what that means.
"Well, train a lot. Don't miss workouts."
"Thanks for that knowledge bomb. Where'd you park the car Dick Tracy?"
|It's only a virtue if you're not a screw up|
If consistency is the most important piece in training, or one of the most important pieces in productive training, then how do we actually plan for it? How do we build a training methodology around being consistent?
The main thing you have to do first, is outline the things that cause you to be inconsistent in your training.
After that you have to redefine what consistent productive training is. Because you can consistently train poorly or in an unproductive manner.
For each person trying to reach their strength, fitness, muscular goals, there will be factors that cause inconsistency that is unique to them. If you're the guy that does binge drinking each weekend, then pays for it for a few days, I can't account for that in a cookie cutter program. You have to understand all of the things that you do, from an individualistic standpoint, that short circuits consistency in your training.
For example, I have struggled with insomnia for most of my life. I know during meet prep it's vitally important that I not do things to hurt my sleep cycle. Once I get into what I call "sleep debt", it can takes me days to get back out of it. I generally cause this to happen on the weekends, when I might stay up later than usual watching movies, or being out with friends. I have to be more cognizant of my behavior during this time lest I get into said sleep debt and end up having poor training sessions due to it.
I can't name all of the things unique to you that might cause your training to be inconsistent. You will need to perform some genuine introspection about what those things may be, and what you need to do to rectify those problems. That part is up to you. However we can outline some general issues that keep your training from being consistently productive.
I can't proceed forward however, without also addressing what "productive" means as well.
For most guys, productive training sessions fall into a vacuum. In other words, they look at productive training as single session events. This is one of the reasons that training with damn near maximal intensities has become such a huge trend in training methodologies these days. Because the big picture in training gets lost, and the only thing that matters is THAT DAYS training. It doesn't matter if that days training causes so much fatigue that few other productive training sessions can be had for the next 3,5,7,10 days. All that matters if that you pulled that max dead or pressed that max bench.
This is akin to running a company that mass produces something, and every time you can, you bust the workers asses for as many hours as they can work, push the machines to maximum working capacity until they break or damn near break, then wonder why the hell everything isn't working at the same level the next day?
What is the outcome of this?
Employee turnover becomes high because people quit, mechanics must be paid for broken equipment, and production slows or comes to a halt until people can be replaced and machines are working normally again. So what does this company do after things are back in place? They repeat the cycle. Sure, some production occurs, but eventually over time you have more days where production is poor than optimal, and you never get above a general baseline of "less than optimal".
|I'm beating you to the "sweat shop" comparison because eventually that shit gets shut down|
Everything has limits. People, machines, anything and everything.
What would the model of a successful company be? They figure out through trial and error what quota can be met daily, weekly, and monthly. How much to pay their employees for a normal work week, the rate at which the machines can work and produce goods with the least amount of malfunction, factor in every other expense they have, then create a price for their product.
What is the common denominator in this process being productive?
Consistency tends to work best with moderation. Not extremes.
Over time, consistency outruns the company that tries to manufacture as much as possible in a single day, rather than thinking about long term consistency with their product.
Understanding that everything from 50% to 100% of your max has benefits and drawbacks, and what they are, is your best tool in designing productive training and productive training cycles. Manipulating your volume and frequency is the other key in that. You have to massage all of these parts over time in order to meet your needs for where you are at in your training life. This will be different for everyone. I throw that out there because I've heard that I'm dogmatic, and it's literally the dumbest god damn thing I've ever read about my writing and how I think about training. Everyone needs to tweak programs and "routines" in order to meet their needs. This is REALLY, the heart of what consistent productive training is. Massaging all of these factors
1RM and fatigue management -
The other part of this equation that is broken, is the means by which so many measure progress. Namely, the 1RM equation.
"I got stronger, because I lifted a high 1 rep max."
You had to take a max to figure out you got stronger? There aren't other ways?
Through rep PR's? Yes.
Through bar acceleration at the same intensities? Yes.
Through the ability to do more work (volume/intensity related) with less energy expenditure (less time)? Yes.
The testing of pure 1 rep maxes in the gym makes virtually no sense to me. When you look at the training methodologies of the strongest guys from the 70's and 80's, they had long well planned out cycles that resulted in a lot of progress, with virtually no missed lifts, and they NEVER maxed in training. Hell, they rarely worked above 90%. Why? Because you don't need to do so in order to get stronger, and because as Coan put it, he "saved the big ones for the meet".
You have a lot of people that scoff now at pre-planned cycles. Well that's great, but I see most of those people stay within the same strength level meet after meet, or year after year, because they refuse to acknowledge that the body works in cycles. You cannot be at peak strength all the time, no more than marathon runners or sprinters or any other athlete I can think of, trains at his maximum year around.
The Russians figured this out years ago, and feel that well, we are pretty stupid for beating ourselves into the ground in the gym, when those efforts rarely bear fruit on the competitive stage. At least, not in comparison to them and what they are doing.
So why do so many guys of today feel that it's a requirement to train at such high intensity levels, and max out so often?
It's pretty simple. Geared training methodologies, and the inability to come to terms with the fact that the body got stronger without proving that with a tested 1 rep max. I have helped tons of guys get ready for meets, and every single time, they tell me "dude, I can't hit my lifts with as light as we are going." Then they get to the meet and crush shit and are amazed at how good they felt.
Training should not destroy you. It should get you better over time. This doesn't happen because of single session blow ups. How do you think that single awesome session happened? It's generally because of the work you put in BEFORE that finally manifested itself in that training session.
Ruminate on that for a while.
I have a female client I am helping at the moment, and she too was upset at how "good" she felt leaving the gym each day. Yes, she was upset by feeling good. She was used to leaving the gym just feeling exhausted, and thought that this was indeed the measuring stick of a great workout.
Yet each week, she just destroys whatever it is I have lined up for her to do, and now she's destroying weights that were previously difficult for her.
"I want to do more! It's so easy!"
"It's so easy because I'm not letting you do more."
The egotistical gym lurch will reply to that "well why can't she do more if she feels strong?"
Because she feels strong because we are managing her fatigue and intensities, and not letting her go heavier and beat the shit out of herself. She gets stronger because she's not in a constant hole of trying to recover. Anyone who doubts fatigue or under-recovery in training is either willfully ignorant or macho to a degree that makes them that way. The whole "there is no such thing as over-training, only under eating and sleeping" bit is soooooo 1992. Fine, set your hair on fire and go as hard as you can every single session with no regard for the fact that hey, you haven't progressed a whole lot in a very long time and injury your injuries.
In the next part, I'll talk about under-recovering, why it's YOU and not the training system that is at fault, maxing out (again), getting injured, and the most important "type" of sessions to stack up over time in order to see progress continue at a steady rate. You know....consistency.