The Single Trait That’s Critical to Ultimately Achieving Your Fitness Training Goals

Officer Training School trainees high-five one another after completing their first official Air Force physical training (PT) test at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.
Officer Training School trainees high-five one another after completing their first official Air Force physical training (PT) test at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Aug. 8, 2019. (Airman 1st Class Charles Welty/U.S. Air Force photo)

Consistency wins. If you are seeking a challenging journey that seems all uphill at the beginning, remember every successful story with any goal begins with being inspired and quickly learning that hard work lies ahead. If you want to see success in fitness, education, your career and life in general, learn to be consistent with daily work. Let's face it: Consistency is not sexy, but it works.

As a tactical fitness writer, I see consistency in every success story. The journey may start with building a fitness foundation and specifically training to get both accepted into programs and then graduating. You must learn to be consistent with these two phases of tactical fitness and give yourself enough time to master the fitness test to get to the training and through the training (Phases 1 and 2, respectively).

The typical journey to becoming consistent starts off with an inspirational moment. You are inspired to do something and motivated to start doing it. Use this time to build good habits and start a training schedule. Make a system to complete these tasks and work on weaknesses while maintaining your strengths. Soon, you will find you are choosing to train even when you do not feel like it. That indicates that you are evolving your motivation into discipline through consistency. This is by far the most powerful part of your goal journey.

Consistent physical training builds confidence in your abilities throughout the spectrum of goals. Handling stress and learning new tactical skills quickly will be developed through consistent training. Discipline is developed. You are getting tougher mentally and physically through this approach to training. These newly acquired skills start to leak into other areas of your life. You will be more disciplined when studying, working to earn money and doing the right things personally to keep you on track to reaching your goals.

How Do You Develop Consistency?

Show up like clockwork. For example, start your training day every morning before sunrise. This may be physical, academic or organizational, but get started with your day. I mix it up and train a few days a week at the pull-up bars about a mile from my home. The next day (at the same hour), I ran to a hill and worked on my lungs and legs. Another morning, I ran the track for some intervals and speed work. Then I enjoy a run on the beach once a week.

Each day is followed by a swim day and some recovery time (flexibility/mobility). Consistency does not have to be the same old dull thing day after day. Mix it up and diversify how you spend your time, preparing for whatever goal you have in front of yourself. Make a time of the day, your time, to be consistent. Remember, if it is not on the schedule, it does not exist.

Consistent Hard Work Earns Consistent Recovery

Downtime is important for growth. Finding ways to de-load your body, refresh your mind and actively pursue recovery is key to both optimal human performance and longevity. Consistent hard work without recovery time turns into burnout, over-stress and losing momentum. Do not skip time off to relax, unwind and stretch. Check out the Recovery Tools of the Trade for ideas to help you find ways to recover from physical, mental, emotional, professional and academic stress. If training is hard, add a mobility/flexibility day or a skills and technique day.

By being consistent, you will add a scoop of mental and physical toughness every day you didn't feel like getting up ... but did anyway. And that is how it gets done. Enjoy the journey. When you reflect on your past successes, you will remember the efforts and be proud of the time spent in this pre-goal training phase.

The main goal is to get something done, no matter what. In the end, consistency is the only thing that matters. You will see the end of this journey through your consistent behavior -- one way or another.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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