Nobody talks about consistency, but it’s the single most crucial factor when it comes to improving your health and fitness. When I first became interested in working out a decade ago, the first thing I wanted to know was how much time I needed to dedicate to it. As a scrawny nerd at the time, I wasn’t exactly thinking about discipline. I only wanted to know so I’ll have an idea of how much time I would have left for World Of Warcraft and parties.

According to some friends in the scene, I’d need to put in three hours a week, in two separate 90-minute sessions. That seemed doable for a single 19-year-old who was fast becoming skinny fat.

So I tried it, kept at it, and soon had it become a constant in my life. No matter how busy I was, no matter what came up, I would make time to work out, decompress and focus on myself. After all, even a bad workout is better than none at all.

As I learnt more about health and fitness over the years, I escalated my commitment and even got myself certified as a trainer. Along the way, I’ve been happy to share what I know with friends and anyone who was interested in working out. This, of course, includes that three-hours-a-week rule that I still observe today.

Health and fitness
Credit: Dominic Phua, Daydream

In my experience, however, many people start out with high frequencies and workout intensities. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. In trying to do too much, too soon, we can set ourselves up for failure.

For me, consistency is more important than intensity. Increasing the intensity of a workout can do wonders for someone who has hit a plateau in his training. But if you’re just starting out, doing so risks injury or burnout because the body hasn’t been conditioned to handle that stress.

Then there are those who establish a five-day regime from the get-go because they want to see results quickly. But they soon realise that they can’t keep to it and start cutting back. The backslide continues and they eventually abandon the plan altogether. It’s a psychological thing. When you start missing a day in your regime, it throws you off and demoralises you.

I believe that the most successful way to incorporate fitness into your lifestyle is to set a minimum requirement that you cannot – and will not – fail to meet. It needn’t be extremely demanding to earn you any bragging rights. Rather, it should just be a personal standard that you hold yourself to and can be proud of. More importantly, it must also be something you can achieve sustainably week after week for the foreseeable future, while being challenging enough to show results over time.

For me, this minimum requirement is to train the major muscle groups at least once a week – even if it means throwing them all into a single, exhausting session. That’s how you change your lifestyle. Do so, and you’ll soon see that the benefits extend beyond just physical improvements.

No one should feel like they need to come out of this Circuit Breaker with a new skill or habit. Still, this is probably the best chance for anyone who’s looking to pick up something new with the extra time. So I encourage whoever is interested in incorporating fitness into their lifestyle to start slowly and steadily. They say that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, so good luck, stay safe, and remain consistent.

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