The Order of Things

runner in the autumn forest

Blog Post by Carl Pate

I recently wrote a blog called What I Learned from 365 Consecutive Days of Exercise!  There were many powerful lessons that I learned, but the most important of all was the power of consistency.  A consistent approach to simple actions will produce spectacular results.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when beginning to exercise is that they think they need to kill themselves!  No pain, no gain!  That’s what they say, isn’t it?  Well it simply is not true. The problem with this “all or nothing” approach to exercise is that it hurts!  And if it hurts, you are not really going to want to do it for long, and you certainly won’t look forward to it.

Whenever you start out on a new exercise programme you need to take real care around how you plan it out, otherwise your good intentions will be very short-lived.  Go too hard at it, at the beginning, and the pain is likely to stop you getting up and doing it the following day.  Not dedicating yourself to a long term goal and other things will take over  and you will end up back where you started.

A friend of mine, who is a personal trainer, taught me that you should always follow these principles IN THIS ORDER:-

  1. Consistency
  2. Duration
  3. Intensity

Your first goal is to create the habit of movement.  This means consistently exercising over a period of time.  Not necessarily every day but maybe 4 or 5 days a week.  At this stage it does not matter how much you do (although it needs to be meaningful in some way, say at least 15 minutes) but you do need to do it regularly.  Studies have shown that if you exercise consistently for a 6 month period you will continue to do it for the long term.  You may stop for a while, if something takes over in terms of importance in your life, but you will always come back to it.  Exercising raises the endorphin levels in your body and creates a craving for this pleasure feeling.  This is a habit and feeling that you really want to encourage.  And there is no downside if you are sensible and don’t go at it like a crazy person.

Only once you have mastered a level of consistency in your exercise routine do you need to start to increase the duration.  You do not need to do this all at once and you do not need to go too far, but this is when you start to put in more time.  If you have been running regularly for 20 minutes per day, you could probably increase that to 30 and then 40 minutes.  You should put an upper limit on this, at least as a regular routine.  This could be, say, 45 to 60 minutes.

At this stage you will want to start to combine the first two of these stages and make sure that you are consistently exercising for your required length of time.

When you have mastered the first two stages of the process you can start to increase the intensity.  If you measure your level of effort on a scale of 1 to 10, the increased level of intensity that we are talking about here is a level 7 to 9.  Also, it is important to note here that you should not be exercising at this increased level of intensity every day.  This is a one day per week thing.  Too much of this anaerobic type of activity and you will flood your body with acid which is not good for your long term health.

When you have mastered the Consistency, Duration, Intensity program your routine exercise plan should look something like this:-

 Level of Intensity Number of Days  Effort Level (1 to 10)   Duration
 Low 3 3 to 5 45 mins *
 Moderate  2  5 to 7  45 mins *
 High  1  7 to 9  45 mins *


*You should also have 5 to 7 minutes of warm up at the start of your session and 5 to 7 minutes of cool down at the end.

Many people dabble in too many things and quit before they see the results of their efforts.  More often than not it is not an earth shattering single event that changes our lives.  Our destiny is shaped by the consistent actions that we take on a daily basis.

“Ordinary activities consistently performed produce extraordinary results!

Keith Cunningham


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About the Author: Carl Pate