How do you stay consistent with working out? There are two main approaches—starting with a bang VERSUS slow and gradual changes. Which one is better?
- Precision Nutrition And Slow Changes
- I Got Results Quickly And It Made Me Consistent
- Getting Results Is How To Stay Consistent With Working Out
- How to Stay Consistent With Your Workouts
Precision Nutrition And Slow Changes
Precision Nutrition, a fitness company worth more than 200 million, is famous for its unique approach to habits.
They introduce one small habit every single week. And by the end of the year, theoretically, now you’re doing 52 things differently.
For example, they once started off the first week by telling someone to fish oil, a multivitamin, and a probiotic.
Why did they go with this method of slow changes?
They say that getting healthy is like getting married. You may find a great potential spouse right off the bat, but you don’t get married on the first day you meet. You don’t want to scare them off. You ease into it.
I never quite understood this because it removed agency from the client.
For example, if a client is in pain and wants to change right now and change quickly, why can’t they do that?
And changing quickly is exactly what I did.
I Got Results Quickly And It Made Me Consistent
I didn’t tepidly ease in over a year, like deciding to go for a swim and painfully dipping into a cold Canadian lake one inch at a time. I jumped right in cannonball style.
My roommate and I were doing this “experiment” of gaining muscle quickly. And we did have enough foresight to set up some accountability to follow through for thirty days—even when the days were tough. We even documented it:
Starting off with a bang is what allowed me to gain 21 pounds in just 30 days and totally overhaul my routine, cooking skills, and understand the basics of lifting. Here I am just after a few months.
Starting with a bang is what set me up for a lifestyle I’ve maintained for eleven years now. (I’ve now added 8.25 inches to my shoulder circumference.)
The interesting thing is it seems like some research may hint that getting results quickly may help with maintaining and keeping results over the long term.
Getting Results Is How To Stay Consistent With Working Out
In one 2015 study on weight loss, getting faster results in the first two months led to better results eight years later.
In a 2005 study on weight loss, researchers again found that those who had more weight loss at the beginning had kept it off. On top of that, those who assumed more responsibility practiced autonomy and self-efficacy also did best.
Lastly, a 2001 meta-analysis of 29 studies found that those who got quick results had lasting results. Researchers wrote, “This is not consistent with the common recommendation that individuals lose weight slowly.”
I personally believe that motivation brings action.
Motivation doesn’t last forever, and we need to use it properly.
If the action that we take brings us results, then we’ve got a reason to keep up with it.
The longer those results keep coming, the longer your routine keeps up, and the more ingrained it becomes in our lifestyle.
That is when a habit is born.
After all, why would we keep a habit that is clearly not working for us?
We need results, and we need them quickly to see if it’s worth keeping up with or not.
How to Stay Consistent With Your Workouts
So, how do you show up to your workouts—day in and day out?
Caffeine has been found to temporarily boost testosterone and dull the sensation of pain. This instantly makes working out really fun.
It also makes it easier to show up to the workout in the first place.
Most people are a bit tired when it’s time to work out, and if you take a pre-workout supplement or drink a coffee right before, you’ll suddenly feel up for a workout.
I remember 12 years ago, getting into working out, and my roommates and I would do these huge scoops of classic pre-workouts like Superpump, Jack3d, C4, etc.
I found myself actually looking forward to the end of the work day when it was time to work out.
Because my body was about to get a huge hit of caffeine.
Pair your workouts to a dose of caffeine. Once you’ve been working out for 6+ months consistently with no problems, then you can try and wean yourself off of the caffeine if you want.
(Isolated caffeine has some downsides, so I personally recommend coffee because it comes packaged with some great health benefits. But if it’s easier for you to do a pre-workout scoop, it can definitely do the job short-term.)
#2—Take Creatine Daily
Most people don’t show up to their workouts because they’re tired. Creatine is one of the safest, most researched supplement there is. If you don’t like the idea of supplements, I hear you, as I’ve sworn off 99% of supplements due to some bad reactions to them.
But creatine, I’ve never had anything but great results with.
Creatine is a compound normally found in muscle flesh—particularly in beef and fish.
Our bodies can generate it, as we need creatine to live. But for our bodies to make it, it requires an amino acid called glycine, which many people are low in.
Creatine is so healthy there are even reviews on its effects on improving brain health (2021).
Now there’s only one well-known downside to creatine. It draws a lot of water out to your muscles, and it can make you dehydrated if you overdo it when first starting out. Many guys think more is better—trust me, ease into it, just a gram or two a day and drink lots of water. Then once you start drinking more water, you can increase the dose.
#3—Make A Bet
My roommate Shane and I made a contract. We set up a start and end date (30 days). It would cost us $10 if we missed a workout. $5 if we missed a meal.
If you feel tired, it’s easy to skip a workout. If you feel tired and you need to pay your buddy $20 to skip your workout—guess who magically finds the energy to get up off the couch?
This is one of my most powerful techniques to get things done, and I’ve used it dozens of times when building my businesses to help focus my energy.
People don’t do bets like this because they know how powerful it is. It just takes one moment of feeling motivated to say “let’s do it” and set up a bet to show up for the next 30 days. If you truly want to change, put some money on the line.
#4—Pair A Movie/TV Show/Video Games To Workout Out
The thing about developing habits is that you need a payoff for it to be worth the effort. If there’s a payoff, your body will repeat it forever.
Eventually, working out will be its own payoff. It’s hard to believe for some people, but once you get used to it, working out provides:
- Boost in energy
- Improvement in back pain or other aches
- You look better
- Exercise even begins to feel good in the moment as a stress relief
But for your first couple of weeks, it probably won’t help with any of those rewards.
It can help to have a temporary external reward until working out feels normal.
Most people spend hours watching TV or playing video games. I know for a while, I felt guilty playing video games because it seemed like a huge waste of time.
But you can pair a workout (healthy and good for you) to a guilty pleasure—but with no guilt.
“If I do a workout, I can game for two hours after I finish my post-workout meal—guilt-free.”
Or you get to watch a movie. Or you get to watch a TV show. You pick what will motivate you.
#5—Join An Online Community
Joining an online fitness community plays a huge role in getting results, according to one paper (2010).
When you join a community, you get support (which is sometimes hard to find in real life), you can post your progress for accountability, get access to friendly competition, you can share tips, and it boosts your motivation to keep up with your workouts, etc.
This is why we include a private community with the Outlive programs so that you aren’t feeling like you’re doing this all alone. I feel grateful for the guys in the community, as it’s fun to chat with other guys who have similar interests and goals.