When you put the “work smarter, not harder” philosophy into action, the need for grueling, hours-long workouts becomes obsolete. Gentle consistency wins over intense inconsistency for long-term fitness results. But what does gentle consistency look like? How can we put it into action?
In today’s blog, I will break down exactly how to implement the gentle consistency mindset into your daily life. When your workouts fit seamlessly into your life, it gives you more time off of your mat to do what you love.
Progressive overload is crucial for muscle growth (hypertrophy). In order to continue to progress, we must slowly add more load to individual muscle groups. This additional load can come from an increase in repetitions or an increase in resistance.
When you first begin a strength training program, you go through the initial stages of neurological strength building for approximately one month. During this month, you shape neurological mapping of the exercises and motor patterns needed to perform different exercises. Think of this stage as setting the foundation for both the exercises themselves as well as for a routine that you can remain consistent with going forward.
Beyond your first month of training, the power is in consistently showing up to your workouts, focusing on similar lifts, and slowing adding additional load over time. It is not a requirement to give 150% to each workout you show up for. It is not a requirement to feel completely depleted after each and every class. If you show up with gentle consistency, meeting yourself where you currently are, you will be able to effectively add more mechanical load to your muscles overtime.
It is easy to fall into the trap of exercise programs that promise results in a finite amount of time. Typically, these types of programs focus on high-intensity training in long format to push rapid results. This oftentimes leads to burnout by the time the program comes to an end. You may “look” closer to your “goal”, but what do you feel like?
Does it feel like a routine you could maintain long term? During busy weeks? During stressful seasons? How do your joints and energy levels feel?
Gentle consistency means finding a program that fits into your life for the long-haul. Not just a quick fix.
We designed our program with 3 different primary tracks (plus cardio or no cardio variations) to ebb and flow with your different stages of life. These tracks are categorized by times a week you are able to commit to classes: 3, 4, and 5 X per week tracks.
The 3 X a week track is a great option for those who may have fewer days within their week to dedicate to strength training. This track features 3, full-body classes to effectively drive muscle hypertrophy in 50-60 minutes.
Just as with all of our tracks, we recommend daily light-to-moderate intensity cardio for 10-30 minutes per day. This can be walking around a store, biking with a friend, leisurely swimming, dancing, etc. Whatever you enjoy doing that may even already be a part of your routine.
This is the track that I personally follow and teach within. I teach resistance classes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and aim to get in daily walks every day of the week. On Tuesdays, I teach a Revolving Recovery Day class that features a new class each week. And on Thursdays (and because my joints feel great), I either take Shannon’s Cardio Burst class or perform self-led sprints for <20 minutes for weekly HIIT training. This schedule feels so sustainable and good for me both mentally and physically. Gentle consistency at work in real time.
Both the 4 and 5X tracks primarily feature classes that are 30-35 minutes in length (Mon-Wed for the 4X track and Mon-Thurs for the 5X track). Friday features 2 class options that are 50 and 60 minutes in length.
These tracks are great for people who are able to consistently show up to their mats 4-5 days a week, but may have less time each day to commit. Again, we recommend continuing to get daily light-to-moderate intensity cardio regardless of the specific track you choose.
The tracks are meant to work with your schedule, not against it. Feel free to follow one track one week and another the next. It is all about using the tracks to your advantage and identifying which works best for you. Take our customized schedule builder to assist you.
If you’re traveling or in a particularly stressful period, the weekly mini and travel sections are for you. These sections are featured in the drop down for each week of classes and are organized to give you a well rounded routine for the entire week, despite classes being 20 minutes or less.
Remember, this should not be an all or nothing mentality. Evlo is designed to meet you exactly where you are, making it the perfect conduit for gentle consistency.
Just as it is important to gauge what you need from week to week from your workout program, it is crucial to check in with yourself daily. We firmly believe in using your warm ups to do just that.
Each Evlo class, regardless of format, starts with very intentional breathwork. We often verbalize and encourage this self assessment during this breathwork. What is coming up for you physically as you step onto your mat? What’s coming up mentally? What do you have to give today to this class?
Asking yourself these questions at the very start of your workout sets the tone right away. Once you implement this into your routine, you will begin to realize what a difference it makes in your ability to show up for yourself each day. You’ll begin to crave it.
Knowing that you will not be jumping right into exercise when you begin a class takes away a possible barrier to entry each day. You know that you will be given the space to check in with your body and adjust your efforts accordingly.
This keeps you coming back each and every week. Progressively loading your body overtime. Putting gentle consistency into practice one breath at a time.
While this might seem counterintuitive and anti- gentle consistency, taking at least two days off of resistance training is an integral part of long-lasting results.
So much of our lives are spent in a state of fight or flight. This can look like running from one task to the next, checking the next thing off of your to-do list only to have 4 more to follow, taking care of family members, and/or workouts that pile onto the stress of it all.
But we can only maintain that overactive sympathetic nervous system state for so long. At some point, there will be a crack in the system. It may be a physical crack in the form of an actual injury, a crack in your mental state, or many things in between.
Instead of waiting until we get to a breaking point, let’s build in time within our regular schedule to take the necessary stress of resistance exercise out of the equation.
Depending on which track you follow within Evlo, you will have either 2, 3, or 4 days a week that do not involve resistance training. On these days, we recommend engaging in that light-to-moderate intensity cardio I mentioned earlier. This includes activities that will lightly elevate your heart rate, but do not overly stress your system. Check out our cardio guide for more guidance here.
In addition to the necessary nervous system relief we get from set days away from resistance exercise, we set ourselves up for success for muscle growth.
We break muscle down during exercise. We build muscle up during our days away from resistance training. It is both the absence of further muscle breakdown from exercise as well as an up-regulation of our parasympathetic nervous system that allows us to build the muscle tissue back up.
If we constantly layer more muscle damage from exercise on top of a muscle that is not yet recovered, it will be difficult to grow your muscles sustainably. In addition, if our workout program is overly stressing our system, keeping us in a sympathetic state, our bodies will not prioritize muscle growth.
While the physiological basis for rest days speaks for itself, there is a softer side of it all that is just as valid.
Giving yourself a set amount of active rest days per week allows for more time for things that you enjoy outside of exercise. This makes your routine just that much more sustainable. And makes it easier to show up to your mat on your scheduled days for resistance training.
Although we plan out set active rest days per week to avoid burnout, we recommend a full 4-7 day Reset Week every 8-12 weeks to further support this effort. A Reset Week involves stepping away from resistance exercise for those 4-7 days. It does not involve completely stopping activity altogether.
In order to decide when you should take your Reset Week, look for the following signs.
The idea of taking 4-7 consecutive days off of resistance exercise can be scary. And one of the number one questions we get in regards to Reset Weeks is “But will I lose progress?”
The short answer? No. In fact, these intentional breaks can propel you even further towards your strength and muscle hypertrophy goals.
This study highlights this answer. Participants were divided into groups that either performed continuous strength training for 6 months or periods of training and detraining over the same time period. The group that performed the periodic training included 3 cycles of 3 weeks off/6 weeks on of resistance training. Overall, these two groups did not show a statistically significant difference at the end of the training for muscle hypertrophy and strength.
If these participants can take a consecutive 3 weeks off of training every 9 weeks without inhibiting their long-term muscle growth, we can take 4-7 consecutive days off every 8-12 weeks without fear of strength or muscle mass loss.
If the idea of completely stepping away from your routine for those 4-7 days makes you fearful that you will not be able to jump back into classes after the week, our Reset Week Program is for you. This program keeps you in the routine of showing up to your mat while giving your body a break from resistance training.
This program includes daily class options like recovery flows, gentle Pilates flows, meditation, and more to support active movement that doesn’t overly stress the system.
When you return to your regular classes following this intentional rest period, you may notice that you’re able to go up in resistance, that you feel more connected to the muscle groups we are working, and that you have a reinvigorated sense of motivation. This Reset Week acts as a catalyst to move you even closer to your long-term goals.
Gentle consistency wins over intense inconsistency.
Listen to Dr. Shannon Ritchey, PT, DPT as she integrates the most current literature with her experience as a fitness trainer to give you tangible takeaways to improve your fitness.
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