THE key to fitness

Name a physical challenge or goal that you want to achieve. Does it involve speed, strength, skill, or body composition? Lower triglycerides? Shoot 90% from the free-throw line?

Whatever it is, there are many specialists in that particular field offering valuable and poor advice. There are sincere as well as snake-oil entrepreneurs offering worthwhile and asinine products and services.

As one of those people, please allow me to remind you of one thing that may be THE most critical element to achieving your goals. But before we get to that, it's worthwhile to discuss a few honorable and not-so-honorable mentions.

Training equipment is definitely over rated. A motivated person will find a way to get it done. They will either get to what they need or make the best of what's around.

Particular diets and supplements are over rated. I'm not saying that what we eat is unimportant. It's the particulars that are unimportant. Diets work because, in the end, they are restrictive. You are actually paying attention to what you eat, eating more unprocessed foods, and taking in less over all.

If you're trying to get lean, lose weight, or whatnot, find a structured diet plan that you can tolerate, fully commit to it, and muster the courage to stick with it for a while. Nobody said it was supposed to be fun. Then, if your activity level is sufficient, you can go back to a more fun and realistic dietary plan that I call The Not Eating Crap Diet. You know what foods are crap. Don't eat them 90% of the time and you should be okay.

I'm aware that this is an overly simplistic bit of dietary advice. But I do hear about and witness some extreme and even odd behaviors where I say to myself, "I bet that person would be fine if they just made a sincere effort at the basics."

And supplements - even the few supplements that are actually proven to live up to their claims do so by a thread. They add less than 5 percent at most. Read for yourself at Examine.com. I cannot speak highly enough of that site.

Training methods are even over rated to some extent. I do recommend that you find something safe in terms of exercise selection, execution, and rest/recovery. A good training method includes an assessment and establishes rhythm and structure that is compatible with your goals, rather than "mixing it up all the time," which rarely lets you know where you stand. Also, be careful of methods that guarantee that your body will adapt toward two incompatible goals at once. For example, it's not likely that a trained individual can increase their vertical jump 4" and shave a minute off his or her best 5K time.

No matter your particular goals and interests, you can almost always benefit from getting stronger. And that doesn't require fancy tools or complex strategies. And now for what's arguably THE most overlooked and undervalued element of you hitting your goals.


Consistency is finding a way to reach a steady rhythm of work and recovery, not too much and not too little. Consistency is committing and going at it with gusto but not so much that you burn out or get injured in six weeks. Consistency is showing up and keeping at it when you don't feel like it. Consistency is paying attention, learning from victories and failures, ensuring that in time you are working harder and smarter.

Sure, consistency has its limits. Some still think that drinking Slim fast and setting their sights on running a marathon are great ways to "get back in shape."

At Bonny Lane Club (my basement and yard), 20 Rep Squats are the one thing that best defines what we do. We find a way to get to them week in and week out. We strive to add just a few pounds to the bar each week. It becomes brutal. When we get tired, bored, lazy, or want to switch it up for variety, we'll maybe do a different core exercise. We'll do some dumbbell work outside rather than inside. We'll change the music that blasts while we're under the bar. But the squats stay!

Nobody can sell you consistency. Only you know your life's rhythm. Of course this applies to most aspects of life, so define what is important to you, be consistent, and find a way to enjoy the process. Temper your dietary and activity related goals by maintaining some perspective and gratitude on the plentiful life and times in which we live.

Work smart. Work hard. Consistently.

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