(Photo Credit: Inspire Cast)
Here’s what happens when 99% of people start a fitness routine:
- They choose a goal.
- They start to formulate ideas for how they’re going to achieve their goal.
- They create an overambitious plan for achieving their goal.
- They quickly realize their overambitious plan isn’t sustainable (because of physical and/or mental limitations, schedule conflicts, or both).
- They get frustrated at their lack of ability to stick to their overambitious plan.
- They give up.
Here’s how that would look in a real-life setting:
- Nick, who has never exercised before, decides he wants to lose body fat.
- Nick decides that in order to lose body fat, he’s going to have to eat less food and increase his activity level (via strength training and/or cardio).
- Nick, who has a busy work schedule and two kids at home, commits to performing six days of strength training each week along with four days of cardio (some of the cardio is done on the strength training days), and cuts out all carbohydrates.
- Nick tries this for two weeks, and realizes that all of his free time is being spent at the gym (as opposed to being spent with his kids). He’s constantly tired, irritable, and his work performance tanks because what’s left of his mental energy (not much) is being split between his craving for carbohydrates, and all the reasons he’s coming up with for why he should quit this asinine routine.
- Nick sticks it out for two more weeks.
- Nick gets burned out, starts despising the gym, and decides getting lean isn’t worth the sacrifice he currently has to make.
- Nick gives up.
Everyone’s situation is different, but some iteration of this happens to most people who embark on a fitness journey, for one reason:
Most of us have an “all or nothing” mindset.
Instead of training three days per week, we shoot for six.
Instead of dropping our calories by 500, we drop them by 1000.
We’re constantly pushing the envelope of what we’re capable of, and although this isn’t inherently a bad thing, believing that success is dependent upon maintaining this “all or nothing” mindset IS bad because – unless your life revolves around fitness (most peoples’ don’t) – most of us can’t maintain that level of intensity for very long.
Life is unpredictable.
And this unpredictability forces us to have periods where we can go “balls out” with superhuman levels of effort, and periods where we have to “slow down” and display average levels of effort.
Because of this, I’ve started implementing what I like to call the MINIMUM ACCEPTED DOSE.
This concept isn’t new.
In fact, it’s not even mine (I stole it from coaches much smarter than me).
Here’s how it works:
- You sit down and come up with goals just like you normally would.
- Once you have your goals, you come up with an “ideal” plan, or the plan you’re going to follow when life’s running smooth. This is the maximum “dosage” of work you can handle, and it will allow you to progress toward your goals as quickly as possible.
- Then, you create an “acceptable” plan, or the plan you’re going to follow when life throws a curveball. This plan is the minimum “dosage” of work you’ll accept, and – although it won’t progress you towards your goals as quickly as possible – it will still allow you to continue making progress until you’re able to return to your normal routine.
Here’s a real life example:
- My current goal is to lose 10-15 pounds of body fat.
- My current “ideal” plan is to:
- Strength train 3-4 days per week
- Perform cardio and/or movement training 2-3 days per week.
- Eat in a 500-750 calorie deficit, allowing me to lose 1-1.5 pounds per week
- My current “acceptable” plan is to:
- Strength training 2 days per week.
- Perform cardio and/or movement training 1 day per week.
- Eat at maintenance, where I don’t lose any weight, but I also don’t gain any.
Why is having that second plan so important?
Because it makes you adaptable.
And the more adaptable you are, the easier it will be for you to stay consistent.
Remember, at the end of the day, consistency is king when it comes to reaching your goals, fitness related or not.
Effort without consistency means nothing.
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