The way you should exercise of course depends on what you’re trying to achieve. In my case, I just wanted to stay healthy and continuously improve my physical fitness. Six-pack abs would be nice too. I was not aiming to get hulking muscles or be able to run like a gazelle, so although I would always push myself, it wouldn’t be as hard as maybe others do. With that said, here are some mindsets I took that helped me maintain consistency (go to the gym 4-5 times a week) for the past couple years:
1. Stop at any sign of injury
Injuries are one of the biggest enemies of consistency. Pulling a muscle can easily take weeks to heal, and it’s prone to being injured again if you’re impatient and jump back into it too soon. It’s just not worth pushing for that extra rep if you feel ANYTHING is not right with your body.
Sometimes I’ll aim to do interval running for 10 minutes but 3 minutes in I’ll feel something hurting or tingling in my leg, I stop. There is no need to push through the pain. Maintain healthiness so you can be consistent over the long-term.
2. Consistency > Intensity
You’ve had a long day and you don’t feel up for a 1 hour intense workout. That’s fine, go for a 10 minute jog. The point is not to always have an intense workout, the goal is just to workout at all. Even when I’m not feeling up for it I’ll drag myself to the gym and maybe I just do a couple reps of a few exercises, still better than nothing. More often than not though, once I drag myself to the gym I’ll actually end up doing a lot more, just SHOW UP!
Don’t think to yourself that if you can’t do an intense workout you shouldn’t bother doing one at all. This brings me to the last point…
3. Do not let what you CAN’T do, stop you from doing what you CAN do
Eventually, you’re going to get injured, if not from working out then just from having a life. This is when in the past I would just give up and stop working out altogether for weeks… but not anymore. I adjust.
If I hurt my leg, I just workout my arms.
If I can’t lift free weights, I use machines.
If I got runner’s knee, I do intervals instead of long distance runs.
Adjust your workout to what you can do, and don’t focus on all the things you can’t do. This doesn’t just apply for situations of injury. If you go to the gym during rush hour everything might be being used, use whatever’s left. Find a mat and space to just do some push-ups. There are always ways to get your exercise in.