Since I was in my early teens, I have been weightlifting on and off. You would never guess by looking at me! The issue has been consistency.
My weight training has always been as a supplement to some other sport, such as running, swimming or tennis in high school; and triathlons in college and beyond. The longest consistent duration of weight training has been 5 months. I say consistent as getting into the gym at least twice a week with a dedicated and focused purpose.
During this 5 month period I actually made decent gains (about 10 pounds). This was back in spring of 2001. I then turned vegan, started doing lots of cardio and lost all the weight and then some!
Right now I am again nearing 5 months of consistent training. I am also taking a much more focused approach to my nutrition and overall training routine. Looking back at my workout logs, I have clearly gained a lot of strength, and I feel much much better. I am also starting to see subtle changes in body size/shape, specifically around my hips/thighs, waist, chest and neck/jaw.
Making any lasting change takes time. In the case of my body, making any gains at all in the gym took a lot of time. For the first few months I saw some gains, but then they slowed down. It was as if my body was fighting itself to maintain status quo. Call it a plateau. For the past month or so, I am growing again. Who knows how long it will last before the next plateau.
When I was a swimmer in High School, we lived through the most grueling workouts known to man. I am actually amazed I survived six years of that training. What was most amazing, was that rapid progress that was made practically by everyone on the team, over the course of a relatively short 4 month season.
Many folks on the team would not swim at all during the summer/fall, which made the progress even more suprising. The key here was consistency. You trained on a regular basis, in a very scientific manner (intervals, racing, paddles/buoys). Even though the swimmers didn’t keep track of training sessions (w were total drones!) you can be sure our coach did.
Training on our own requires the same type of discipline and consistency. The biggest mistake I have made in the past was not being consistent. In a best case scenario, this will just result in poor gains, at worst, injury.
As other reference points, training for my past two Ironmans required consistent training over 8 months for each event. This was really the longest I consistently trained in a set of related sports. The progress made during this period was slow at first, but rapid in the final 3-4 months. In fact, for many things that I do, I tend to be a slow-starter….but ramp and accelerate very quickly towards the end.
I am hoping for a similar “fast-ramp” over the coming 3-4 months!