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Do you have the greatest training program ever? Is your diet given to you by a professional coach? Are you taking the most expensive supplements known to man? Doesn't matter, because if you are not consistent then you will never get anywhere in the gym.
It's odd that this even needs to be said but a lack of consistency is a huge limiting factor for most gym goers yet very few people seem to realise that this is the case.
If you went to work only one day a week whilst being “off sick” for the other 4 would you be surprised when you were passed over for promotion? Hopefully not.
If you were attempting to learn French, but after 3 weeks you decided that you would rather learn Spanish would you be surprised that you were failing at both languages? Well you get the idea anyway, being consistent is probably the best way to get results that there is.
Sticking to the Right Program
Choosing a program should be less about how perfect it is, and more about how likely it is that you are actually going to follow it.
Obviously making sure that exercises such as deadlifts, squats, bench press, pull ups etc will make the program more effective, but if you know for a fact that a training session made up exclusively of these exercises would turn you off then avoid it.
Try to create programs that combine exercises that you hate but know are good for you with exercises that are enjoyable, or quick to complete.
If you hate deadlifts then don't ignore them completely but certainly don't plan on performing them three times per week. It's not going to happen, you'll make excuses not to perform them, or worse, excuses not to perform the whole session.
Another issue that you may want to avoid is changing programs to fast. It's almost a cliché, having a gym goer jumping between programs every other week.
First it's German Volume Training, then it's Push Pull, then it's Arnie's program from when he won Mr Olympia, then it's a cool program that they saw on Facebook.
It takes weeks to adapt to a new program, but once you have adapted this is where you start to see the results.
Constantly changing programs will prevent you from reaching your potential as you will have to restart all of your lifts from the beginning.
Following GVT and doing 10 sets of 10 reps, will work you in a very different way to a 5×5 program, and contrary to what you might think this is not a good thing.
Sticking to the Right Diet
If you want to increase your muscle size then you will need to be in a calorie surplus for quite a while, with a high protein intake and a consistent training program that constantly pushes you.
If you want to lose weight then you will need to be in a calorie deficit for quite a while, with a high protein intake and a consistent training program that constantly pushes you. If you are looking for both then you might have a problem.
Diet is very simple, but difficult. That sounds insane, but what it means is that the process is a simple one, eat less calories than you consume to lose weight, eat more calories than you consume to increase weight.
Following this plan for a long enough period of time to get long-term sustainable results is where the difficulty lies.
As with training, diets should not be chopped and changed regularly if you want results. However, with diets it would be fair to say that you shouldn't be doing anything too fancy anyway. No intermittent fasting, no Atkins, or Keto Diets, no Zone dieting or anything else.
Track your calories, keep protein high, lower carbs when trying to get leaner (but don't eliminate completely), and be sensible with fat intake.
Try to keep your diet as close to your ‘regular‘ diet as possible. The easier it is to manage, the more likely you are to continue with it for the foreseeable future.
Planning for Successful Gains
What is it you want to achieve? Getting your answer right here is crucial to success, and it is where many fall down.
As mentioned earlier, trying to lose weight whilst gaining muscle is next to impossible for anyone with more than a year's gym training under their belt.
You need to make a choice and plan accordingly, because trying to achieve too much will severely limit your potential.
Incidentally, if you are brand new to the gym then you have an even simpler plan. Start to go to the gym, train big compound movements (Squats, deadlifts etc) and then get started on your diet. Nothing fancy, it's all about making small changes.
Just sticking to a program (even a terrible one) for one year will put you head and shoulders over almost every other gym goer out there.
Tidy up your diet slightly, and make sure that you have a simple plan to follow.
Once you have got good results from that you can begin to experiment with more advanced techniques and strategies.