Consistency: The Most Important Element of Training

It's important to fit your training into your lifestyle; having a well-balanced plan is key.
An athlete I was working with asked me a pointed question recently: "What is the most important element of training?" Without a doubt consistent training is the most important aspect of athletic success and forward progress.

Even a poorly designed or random training program will produce results if followed consistently and training occurs regularly. In my experience, the athletes that are still performing well into their 40s, 50s, and beyond all have one thing in common: they've trained consistently over the years and rarely gave up ground.

A well-designed training plan

A well-designed training plan followed consistently will maximize results. A well-designed plan has the proper mix of stress and recovery and ensures the right type of training occurs at the right time.

It should be specific to the athlete but must be adaptable and adjustable as well. I have often recommended athletes cut back on the volume of their training in order to produce more consistent, quality workouts.

A five-day-per-week plan followed with energy and precision is better than a six-day-per-week plan that leaves you tired, unmotivated and adversely affects other areas of their life.

A balanced approach

Consistency doesn't just apply to frequency of workouts, but how consistently the you adhere to the workout format. It's no surprise that those who follow their plan precisely are the ones that see the greatest improvements in performance. There may only be room for one or two breakthrough workouts per week. Hitting these important workouts consistently and correctly is the key to forward progression.

If you're having trouble training consistently, the first thing you have to realize is that training comes last -- that's right last. Unless you're a professional athlete, your training should be secondary to family and work responsibilities.

Well-balanced athletes have their priorities in line, which ultimately helps their success. It's important to design a training program that fits your lifestyle and can be followed consistently without upsetting other areas of your life. Make sure your goals don't overreach the available time you have to train.

Training time

That being said, it's also important to schedule time for your workouts as you would any other appointment. Don't try to fit them in haphazardly; put workouts on your calendar or have a set time each day. I have found that athletes who work out in the morning have greater consistency than those who work out later in the day. Things will often occur throughout the day to sidetrack your workouts, and this is less likely to happen in the morning.

A coach will help you make the most efficient use of your training time and can customize a plan to fit your needs and lifestyle. Each workout will have a purpose, consistently moving you forward. A plan built four weeks in advance is more likely to be adhered to than one that is thrown together randomly. Train hard, train smart and train consistently.

Matt Russ (has coached and trained athletes around the country and internationally. He currently holds licenses by USAT, USATF, and is an Expert level USAC coach. Matt has coached athletes for CTS (Carmichael Training Systems), is an Ultrafit Associate. Visit for more information or e-mail him at

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