Intensity vs Consistency

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In my 20’s I would do both work and fitness with intensity. Long hours in the office, heavyweights in the gym. I give the allusion of some sort of alpha male. Certainly not but with very little else to focus on I was able to give my all to those endeavours.

And you know what? It paid off. Around 2014 I was in the best shape of my life. My wife was pregnant with Matilda (our first child) and we would spend most evenings relaxing together. We didn’t go out on nights out as our life was preparing for her arrival. It’s no surprise that I was able to channel my energy into my fitness and my business.

It’s the year my business began to take off and was becoming more than some websites which earned me some pocket money on the side. The training was the same. I adapted my garage into a gym and I would lift heavyweights. This was all done with an intensity that just wasn’t sustainable; particularly with a baby on the way.
In the years which followed that Intensity was replaced by consistency. I was no longer the priority so although business and fitness were high on my ‘must do’ list I no longer had the time to tackle both with the same intensity.

But both continued to flourish, arguably more than ever before. My business grew to a level where I could quit my full-time job and take a local part-time role. With this, I was able to spend a full day a week on the business and gain some consistency with my output.

Time was more precious so although gym sessions were reduced I was able to adapt and would cycle to my part-time role. 6 miles of cycling 3 days a week. Cycling has since become an incredible component in the day to day lives of our family.

Why do people fail with intensity?:

The problem with intensity is that you ‘in it’ so much that you have no alternative perspective. I used to wake up regularly at 4 am, spend two hours working on my business, an hour in the gym then set off to work. 14 hour days with no time to remove myself from the bubble.

It wasn’t until I quit my full-time job that we changed the way our educational business made money and pursued a subscription model vs ads. This led to a full business exit just last year. When I was in the intense moment of doing everything I had no time to think and assess our next move. Without the part-time job and time to think and consistently develop the business, I may still be working within an organisation.

The same can be said for fitness. Intensity seems to receive an honour badge vs consistency. If someone runs a marathon they are applauded by family, friends and it’s a celebration of their success. Whereas if someone pounds the pavement day after day, year after year and are in unbelievable shape it’s far less glamorous.

This is ultimately why most new years resolutions never stick. People go ‘all out’ with an intensity that is unsustainable vs consistency within their limits which is a habit they can instil in their day to day life. You will see this clearly in January when people start their fitness and healthy eating regime. The problem is it’s just not sustainable.

How often do you see a friend or colleague tracking everything they eat and the exercise they do in January for this to slowly drop away and disappear in February?

‘A study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit their resolution after just one week. And only 19% of individuals are actually able to stick to their goals long term (two years, in the case of the study)’
Business insider – New Years resolutions

But is this at all surprising? The hard part is the consistency to stay with a specific fitness or healthy eating regime. Most also choose a level of intensity that is just unsustainable as they want to make the BIGGEST IMPACT they can.

Someone who hasn’t run regularly or lifted weights for some time will struggle to suddenly do so every day. Furthermore, a complete change of your diet will be difficult to do without incremental changes. This is why choosing consistency is the answer.

A typical cycle. Consistent time and speed.

Choosing consistency:

Choosing consistency is establishing a ‘routine/habit’ which is sustainable for the long term. Something which can be instilled in your day to day life without impacting other areas.

Over the past few months, I have implemented a fitness routine of my own that is consistent, manageable and sustainable for the short, medium and long term.

I am using fitness as the focal point here but this could also be for diet or other lifestyle decisions.

When choosing to focus on consistency I highlighted the following as important in maintaining my routine.

  • Focus on exercise routines I enjoy.
  • Focus on inexpensive fitness which doesn’t incur large costs.
  • Time is precious. Activities can be done largely at any time.
  • Transferable wherever I am (on holiday, inside, outside)
  • Low-impact exercises. Consistency is the key so aim to avoid injuries.
  • Plenty of time outdoors with a focus on exploring my surrounding area.

Each week I keep a spreadsheet of my progress. Essentially this is very simplistic in that I focus on the day, date, activity and duration. These are rough numbers but my consistency zone usually is 1 hour or less. Anything further can become a strain/have impact on other areas of life (family, work, play, rest).

w/c29/4th Feb
Saturday29/1/2022Resistance Bands Workout30 mins
Saturday29/1/2022Walk1 hour
Monday31/1/2022Press-ups & Squats25 mins
Tuesday1/2/2022Resistance Bands Workout40 mins
Wednesday2/2/2022Bike Ride1 hour
Thursday3/2/2022Swimming45 mins
Friday4/2/2022Resistance Bands Workout30 mins

Why choose consistency?

It’s true that people are largely inspired by those who do something extraordinary. But behind that is consistency and there’s something to be said about that individual who shows up every single day to make a difference.

I’ve always aspired to be a well-rounded individual.  Good dad, husband, in decent shape, successful business without tipping too much in one direction. When it comes to exercise here are a few more reasons why id advocate consistency for someone just looking to get into good shape.

– Low impact exercises. Prevent injury which in turn leads to higher levels of consistency. Going intense on exercise can lead to injury. Although it’s impossible to avoid all injuries it’s likely high-intensity training will lead to more injuries than sustainable training.

– Sustainable. Most exercise routines/schedules are just not sustainable for the long term. Focus on things that you feel confident you can maintain.

– Good habits are inspiring: Instilling good habits into your life inspires those around you to do the same. Whether that’s your spouse, children, work colleagues or neighbours. If something is realistic people are more likely to be inspired. 

– Present in other areas of life: Conducting things to intensity typically means there are gaps in other areas of your life. Training to be an amateur bodybuilder 3 hours a day means you will have less time for your wife and kids. It’s just a fact of life that if you do something with an intensity you upset the equilibrium and another area will suffer. It’s impossible to balance if you are doing one particular thing with an unhealthy intensity.


Making a positive change in your life is tough. It requires discipline, time and consistency. The reason the vast majority of people don’t stay the course is that getting results can take months or in some cases even years. It’s why I advocate consistency over intensity.

Forget about hefty New Years resolutions. Focus on impactful changes you can make which you can sustain realistically for the long term. It could be as simple as doing one type of exercise daily. It could be walking your kids to school instead of driving. 

The reason most fail with changing their fitness and health goals is that they go all out for INSTANT results instead of trying to better their lives for the long term.

For the vast majority of people and their goals, intensity is overrated. Choose consistency, embrace incremental changes and enjoy yourself.

Further Reading

Enjoy this article? Here are a couple of other articles which inspired me.

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