In this world of stop and go, crash and burn, and shiny bright objective syndrome (SOS) it's easy to start a new ambition one week, crash and burn, and then wait for the “right timing”(hint it is never the right time) to start again. This is a recipe for failure.
A recipe that you are the key ingredient in.
What would you say if I told you that with one small change you can be 37x better this exact time next year. Well you can and it doesn’t involve drastic life changes or decisions to make it a reality.
Let me introduce you to my “50% rule”. This rule is a pillar in real, sustainable body-transformation and will become one of your best tools in the fitness (and life) tool-box.
It goes like this:
“If you can execute 50% of a good workout and nutrition plan every single day, then you will be much better you 1 year from now than if you give 110% effort on an ideal plan in any given week.”
This is because big, heroic efforts almost always backfire. On the other hand, actual, real change comes from developing consistency. I see this all the time from guys and gals that want to start getting fit, and especially when they want to be leaner. It’s all motivation and “I want a killer workout!” and very little day-to-day commitment. The two contrasting pitfalls are crashing and burning, or LOTs of low-quality exercise that doesn’t get results.
If you’re feeling internal resistance to this idea of 50% right now, it probably sounds something like this in your head: “Hey, no PAIN no GAIN, right?” or “what a croc, everybody knows you have to give 110% to get results.” Well, sort of...it’s true that you need to work hard. It’s true that you need to invest yourself in your workout. But that doesn’t do you any good at all if you haven’t developed your deep internal athleticism and cultivated the Art of Consistency.
Let me tell you about a young lady that I worked with for about a month. She really wanted to get a lot leaner, and honestly already was in a decent weight range. So I began the training plan, like I always do, on developing full range-of-motion movement patterns and developing deep technical proficiency in lifting. (If you can move better and load stronger and safer than you can ultimately exercise more intensely and develop your physique). But within a session or two I could tell that she was unsatisfied. “I want something harder! Make me get lean!” Ok. But the problem is that she already couldn’t perform with enough intensity. Any cardio or interval work looked like she was in slow-motion. She only lifted light weights. She wasn’t developed enough to actually do a hard workout. A few weeks later she confessed that she’d been working out with 2 other trainers at the same time! No wonder she wasn’t getting results. A lot of low-intensity sessions, never staying someplace long enough to get better, on top of not being coachable was a recipe for mediocrity.
On the other hand, some folks (usually beginners) DO have a lot of energy! If that energy isn’t channeled effectively it very quickly leads to a mental crash-and-burn or an actual injury.
Let me demonstrate with a drawing. The middle line here represents your performance ceiling. If you’re inconsistent, when you get motivated to go to the gym and “go beast mode” or whatever you tell yourself, you hit this line and there’s a hard crash.
You’re sore and stiff and foggy headed the next day. Motivation has vanished. Before you know it, days or weeks have gone by and all your good intentions to get back to the gym have been flushed out with the high and sweat of that one heroic workout that you did weeks ago. It’s kind of like a bird hitting a glass door. BONK! Grounded! Ouch!
This is usually cyclic. Look familiar? For some people this represents their whole last year or maybe their whole last decade!
On the other hand, someone who respects their limit, trains to a 8/10 difficulty, and practices doing their workout each day, over the long term will increase their performance cap. This is what athletes do. They’ve been doing it for so long that they can recover quickly from hard workouts.
This is where the 50% rule comes into play. It gives you permission to “have a bad day” but on that bad do you choose to do something active, or do part of your workout, or do exercises that don’t beat you up. It gives you permission to show up and practice your Consistency Muscle as well as your body’s muscles. It allows you to keep moving the ball forward. (By the way, The Consistency Muscle is the flip side of the coin from the “All-or-Nothing” Syndrome)
The point it’s better to be consistent than heroic. Your consistency will develop a true level of high performance. For the record, I’m not saying that you should only workout at 50% effort all the time. Once you’re adapted to training, getting a 10/10 difficult workout every 1-2 weeks is actually good. What I am saying is you have permission to take a “mental health day” while working out by doing a lighter workout in order to keep moving forward. Nothing kills results like long periods of missed workouts.