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Try These 6 Simple Swaps to Boost Your Training Consistency

Tonal’s State of Strength report shows how small changes can help make fitness a habit.

State of Strength: Consistency

You might have been here before: You finish a single workout and beeline for the mirror, looking for results or any proof that the exercise and effort worked. Turns out, there’s no magic pill for muscle, only consistency, according to Troy Taylor, Senior Director of Performance at Tonal.“One workout on its own doesn’t build muscle,” he said. “It’s the accumulation of repeated bouts of exercise over time that leads to change. Without a high level of consistency, it’s almost impossible to make reasonable fitness gains.” 

Fortunately, it doesn’t take a superhuman level of willpower to keep showing up. Small efforts can add up over time and make a big difference. As Tonal coach Joe Rodonis said, “In my mind, I see checkmarks on a calendar for every day I train and I can visualize those checkmarks building over the course of months and years.” 

Tonal’s State of Strength report, which includes data on the strength training habits of more than 175,00 Tonal members over one year, reveals that consistency is one of the most important factors in increasing your overall strength. In fact, when comparing members with the highest and lowest Strength Scores, adding one or two more workout days per week had a bigger impact on strength than increasing average workout duration. 

Little tweaks, such as regularly working out at the same time every day, can help you gain strength by becoming more consistent. Here are six data-backed tips from the State of Strength report to make your fitness habit stick.

1. Stick With the Program

Random workouts lead to random results. When you’re serious about a specific goal, you’ll benefit more from doing a set of strategically scheduled workouts designed for progressive overload. Programs on Tonal take the guesswork out of choosing what type of workout you’ll do each day. 

Tonal member Joseph Mapa credited his fitness success—he’s lost 30 pounds and increased muscle mass—to the 18-plus programs he’s completed on Tonal. “I really don’t know what I’m doing in the gym, and having coaches I trust [lead] challenging programs is a game changer,” he said. 

Tonal members who regularly followed programs were almost 12 percent more consistent than those who did one-off workouts more often. More Tonal members surveyed said following a program was the number one factor that helped them stay consistent with working out than any other reason.

2. The Early Birds Get to Work

Find a time that works for you and stick with it. Data showed that people who regularly worked out within the same time window (within three hours of the same time every day) were 32 percent more consistent with working out than those who varied their exercise time by 7 hours or more. As for what time of day, data showed morning is best, and that consistency peaked between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. local time.

In a survey of Tonal members, 66 percent of those who typically worked out in the morning said they usually worked out 5 or more days per week compared to 46 percent of midday exercisers, 38 percent of evening exercisers, and 35 percent of those who didn’t have a standard workout time.

Tonal members who exercise in the morning are most consistent.

3. Aim Higher

Setting lofty goals is a good idea, even if you don’t always reach them. According to one study, people who are trying to learn a new skill are most successful when they’re correct 85 percent of the time and make mistakes about 15 percent of the time. It goes to show that setting goals that are challenging, but still doable, is the best way to make a change.

This works for setting up your workout goals, too. For each additional day a member aimed to work out (up to four days per week) their weekly consistency increased by an average of 15 percent.

Tonal members who aim to work out 4+ days per week are the most consistent.

4. Make it Social

It’s always easier to make time for a workout when you know you’ve got friends ready to cheer you on. Tonal members who followed more than 30 other members on the Tonal mobile app were 20 percent more consistent than those who didn’t follow anyone. The data shows that even members who have just 1 to 10 friends were 10 percent more consistent with working out.

Tonal members with 30+ friends are 30% more consistent than those with none; Tonal members with 1-10 friends are 10% more consistent than those with none.

Tonal member Arlene Kraushaar has experienced the power of community firsthand. She regularly posts about her workouts in the Official Tonal Community on Facebook and draws inspiration from her fellow members. “People are incredibly encouraging,” she said. “Everybody wants to succeed, and everybody wants to see other people succeed. We’re all here trying to get stronger and be our strongest.”

5. Celebrate Your Wins

Seeing how far you’ve come can motivate you to keep going. Members who checked out their stats on the mobile app in the last 30 days were around 20 percent more consistent than those who did not view their stats in the app.

Checking your stats in the Tonal mobile app can make you 20% more consistent.

6. Every Minute Counts

Even if you’re strapped for time, you can benefit from adding a few minutes to your workouts. Members whose average workout duration was 20-40 minutes were 50 percent more consistent than those who typically worked out for 20 minutes or less. Furthermore, the 40-60 minute workout group was 21 percent more consistent than the 20-40 minute group. 

However, there’s no need to work out much longer than that if you’re trying to make exercise a habit. The difference in consistency between those who averaged 40-60 minute workouts and those who worked out for over an hour on average was only 4 percent. 

The Bottom Line

Consistency clearly matters but, as Tonal members demonstrate, you can get big gains by making tiny changes. Instead of making a bunch of major shifts in your routine all at once, try out one of these—such as setting a regular morning workout time or committing to an extra session per week—for a few weeks to see if it sticks.