The one thing all great workout routines have in common

When you’re first getting into working out, all the info out there can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of programs to try, exercises to learn, and things to remember.

Everyone claims to know best and to have the secret to seeing fast results. The right rep scheme and the best time to do cardio. The right full-body exercises and the best HIIT circuits.

Just learning all the terms can be exhausting. It can leave you wondering where to start and what exactly to do.

THE ONE THING ALL GREAT WORKOUT ROUTINES HAVE IN COMMON

The truth is that most of the workout information out there doesn’t matter. If you’re just a normal person who wants to be fit and healthy, knowing every single thing about fitness isn’t really necessary.

For all-star athletes and fitness professionals looking to maximize every ounce of their effort to achieve optimal performance, the finer points are important. But for most people, they’re not all that relevant.

Indeed, amidst all the information and tips and studies out there about exercise, it really all comes down to one thing—consistency.

WHY CONSISTENCY MATTERS MOST

Consistency is the common denominator. Everyone who is fit and healthy is active on a regular basis.

They may do different things. Some people run and do yoga, other people play tennis and lift weights. They may prefer different programs. They may recommend working out at different times of the day, at a variety of intensities, and for various amounts of time.

But the one thing they’ll all say? You have to be consistent to get results.

To get stronger, you have to lift weights each week. To run farther, you have to practice routinely. To become more flexible, you have to stretch regularly.

And of course, if you have a specific goal you’d really like to achieve, knowing some expert tips and tricks can certainly help you achieve results faster. They can make your efforts more efficient.

But if instead you find all that expert information a bit daunting, and rather confusing, don’t worry about it. Stick to the basics and be consistent. That’s what matters.

MAKING CONSISTENCY THE GOAL

When I first started working out, I got obsessed with reading exercise and fitness articles. I flipped through plans and delved into fitness forums. I tried sticking to a rigorous routine that was proven to work, but eventually, I burned myself out.

It was too complicated and unsustainable. It wasn’t fun. It was a lot of work, and for what? I wasn’t training to be a pro athlete or for a CrossFit competition. All I really wanted was to feel strong, to be able to sprint without having a heart attack, and for my back not to hurt.

Only recently have I finally realized that there’s no expert advice that can help me achieve my goals unless I commit to being active consistently.

So, I’ve changed my goals accordingly. Instead of focusing on how fast or lean or strong I am, I’ve started to focus exclusively on being consistent. I’ve stopped worrying about all the little things, which are mostly irrelevant to my goals anyway, and started placing all my energy on just showing up, day after day, week after week.

Are there more effective workouts I could be doing? Almost certainly. But no workout is more effective than the one that actually gets done.

The other results will come in time. If I remain consistent, I’ll get stronger and faster. There’s no doubt about that.

So, quit worrying about what’s most effective, what elite athletes are doing to gain an edge, and what fitness experts are saying is the only way to workout. There is no single way. No one-size-fits-all solution.

Either you’re active on a consistent basis or you’re not. That’s the only thing that matters to your health.

Once you’ve achieved consistency, you can focus on all those other things, like including a variety of activities that strengthen your muscles and bones and get your heart-pumping.

But until then, focus on showing up. You can keep learning more each day, trying new things, and testing out the latest and greatest—just don’t lose sight of the fact that the only thing that really matters is that you do it.