Tip: Build Your Consistency Muscle

There's only one way to be consistent in the gym. And the delicate snowflakes out there don't want to hear it. Here it is anyway.

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Ted Never Stops

Show up at a certain gym in Colorado Springs as soon as they're open and you'll see Ted. Ted has a favorite treadmill at this gym, and every day you'll see him on it, walking fast on an incline for exactly one hour. Ted is 70 years old and will probably live to be 100. He's always there, seven days a week, and always the first to arrive.

Ted has mastered consistency. In Ted's mind, every day has to start with an hour of walking and a little weight training. His daily workout is like brushing his teeth: he doesn't have to think about it. There's no internal bargaining. It's just what he does. In fact, Ted would probably have a really bad day if he had to miss his workout.

But what can strength athletes and muscle-building hopefuls learn from ol' Ted? Well, just about everything they need to know.

Trials, Errors, and False Starts

The false start is common in fitness and bodybuilding. You come out of the gate hard and fast then, for whatever reason, you quit. Many have to go through this a few times before they develop consistency.

Consistency is the most critical parameter to training success. "An average program followed all-out will always lead to more results than the best program done half-assed," says Christian Thibaudeau. It doesn't matter if your program is "science-based" if you aren't consistent. Any bro-workout that you actually stick with will beat it. Arnold never read a study, but he also never missed a scheduled workout.

In training, you only learn what works for you through trial and error, but to find the errors you need more trials. And you don't get many trials when you sit at home 3-4 days per week.

The Worst Plan for Snowflakes

For some reason today, we have to treat everyone like delicate snowflakes. Apparently, they're just too fragile and have too many feels to cope with honest, proven advice. So we're forced to give them bad information because we think it's the only advice they'll take.

"Just go to the gym three days per week," we say. But that's horrible advice. Why? Because newer lifters, or those just getting back in the game, will never develop consistency going to the gym three days per week. There's not enough opportunity for habit formation and the solidification of those habits.

Everyone Feels Friction. Winners Ignore It.

Doing anything worthwhile has an element of friction to it. We feel resistance to doing what we know we need to do. Pre-making healthy meals for the week on Sunday takes some time, preparation, and planning (friction). Going to the drive-thru at Taco Hell for lunch is easy (no friction).

But the resistance caused by friction erodes and smoothes out over time. As kids, we hated to stop what we were doing to go brush our teeth. We knew we needed to (thanks mom), but it wasn't fun. As adults, we do it without thinking about it. It's engrained and frictionless. In fact, if we happen go to bed without doing it, we're haunted until we get up and do it.

Successful people, in the gym and out, learn to recognize friction and choose to ignore it. Or they anticipate it, stare it down, and work through it anyway. Friction sucks, but not achieving goals sucks more.

In Fitness, Choices Increase Friction

If you have a three day per week workout plan, it's really easy to juggle those three days around. Bargaining becomes easy. "I'll just go Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when I'm less busy," you say when you don't feel like going on Monday. Only now you have four days to lose the habit, to disengage, and to practice weakness.

In the Velocity Diet® plan, you do your NEPA (non-exercise physical activity) every day. That just means you go for a walk. You walk on lifting days and you walk on non-lifting days.

The choice is... there is no choice. You will walk, no excuses. You will walk in the rain and in the dark if necessary. You will walk on your business trip. You will walk on Christmas. You'll even do your NEPA on your birthday because you're a grown-up now and birthdays are bullshit after age 21.

If you're given a choice, that will create options. And options are bad for inconsistent people.

Choose to Not Have a Choice

If you're struggling to build your consistency muscle, make the choice to not have a choice. Go to the gym every day. No, that doesn't mean you have to wail on your hammies seven days a week or take a cheese grater to your nervous system. But you will practice what Martin Rooney calls the B.I.G. principle: Butt In Gym.

It doesn't matter if you only come in on Sunday for a romp on the foam roller. Show up on Sunday. Do something. And no, you will not get around to romping on that foam roller you already have at home. Stop telling yourself that.

Show up and "brush your teeth." As a newbie or a fourth-time false starter, you don't have a choice. Choices are bad. Or at least, choices are reserved for 10, 20, and 30 year veteran lifters. That's the only way to make this whole "feel great, be strong, and look good naked" thing a habit. It's the only real way to develop consistency.

How to Know If Your Consistency Muscle Is Strong

A sign that you've turned the corner is when you have to miss a workout for a perfectly good reason and you feel kinda guilty or pissed off about it. Now you're consistent. Now it's engrained. And NOW you can take a day or two off when needed.

I hope this didn't melt your hopes and dreams, snowflake.

Chris Shugart is T Nation's Chief Content Officer and the creator of the Velocity Diet. As part of his investigative journalism for T Nation, Chris was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumble." Follow on Instagram