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I work out every day. I don’t really get sore. I don’t worry if I have to miss a workout. I make progress over time. I have good days at the (home) gym, but I almost never have bad days. My secret, while effective, is extremely boring. It is, simply, consistency.
When you’re consistent, you don’t get sore
Let’s start with the thing everybody wants most in life: to not be sore. For as much as I train, you’d think I’d have all the secrets for managing soreness. (I do, but that’s not the point.) In truth, it’s very rare for me to feel sore.
That’s because soreness isn’t a measure of how strong you are or of how “good” your last workout was. It’s just a thing that pops up sometimes when you do a workout you’re not used to. Maybe your workout was harder than usual, but you can also get sore if it’s just different.
I’ve only felt truly sore on a few occasions in the last year. One time I did squats with very light weight in sets of 20, when a normal workout for me is more like heavy weight for sets of five. Another time, I started a program with pull-ups in it, when I hadn’t done pull-ups in forever. And then there was the day I maxed out a deadlift-like frame pick after not deadlifting in a while, and my lower back was toast for a week.
But in general? I lift heavy, and feel fine the next day. That’s a perk that consistency buys you.
Motivation is never an issue
Anytime an athlete does a Q&A on Instagram, it seems they always get at least one question about how they keep up the motivation to haul their ass to the gym every day. And nearly every athlete is confused by the question. Motivation? Why would you need that?
Think about it: do you need to be motivated to brush your teeth every morning? To go to work? “Motivation” might describe how you feel when you get started with a new hobby or a new fitness pursuit, but it’s not how most regular exercisers feel about their day-to-day. You show up and squat because squats are what’s on the program for today. I’ve written before about what this is like.
No single workout matters very much
We’ve all had good workouts, bad workouts, missed workouts. But when you’ve been working out consistently for, say, five years, none of those individual days will really matter.
I remember skipping a workout one day, a couple months in to following a serious, consistent program. Maybe I was sick, or maybe I was busy at work. It doesn’t matter. I just had a sudden realization: it doesn’t matter that I missed one, because there are so many workouts I had already done and there were so many more in my future. My self-conception as an athlete did not depend on what happened that day; instead, it was shaped by the fact that I showed up so often and so consistently.
Consistency also means that you don’t have to challenge yourself to a super intense workout without a good reason. You might feel the need to get…