Consistency vs Intensity

Jennifer Trepeck
3 min readJul 11, 2022

A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline

a woman laying on a mad with her legs bent, feet on the floor, in the middle of an abdominal crunch with her arms bent so her hands, in fists, are near her forehead.
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

“Go hard!” “No pain, no gain!” While others say, “slow and steady wins the race.” “Do only that which you can do repeatedly.” …Well, which is it?!

As I call it, “C vs I” was all over social media a few months ago. The C stands for consistency, and the I stands for intensity. How do these two factors work together? Or don’t they?

Intensity sometimes gets a bad reputation. You’ll hear this when it comes to nutrition choices, we often want to avoid “intense” nutrition choices, or you’ll hear me harp on what’s sustainable. Truthfully, intensity can be incredibly powerful. When it comes to exercise, we often say that intensity changes the body. Intensity creates a challenge for us which is tremendous for growth. Yet, there is a downside to intensity — maintaining it.

Generally, the more intense something is, the less likely we are to be consistent with it. Think about it. An intense workout might require two hours at the gym which isn’t easy to find daily. A super intense workout might be incredibly exhausting and harder to motivate, feel energized, or recovered enough to do it daily. An intense nutrition plan which doesn’t allow for holidays, parties or much enjoyment is less likely to be long-term. We can try to white-knuckle it and use willpower but that often sets us up for failure.

The other side of the coin is consistency. If the goal is to do something repeatedly, it’s likely less intense. When we think about consistency in the context of our wellness, we can think of our stress reduction, sleep, energy, nutrition, and movement in the long run. We’re more likely to reach and maintain optimal health through small steps taken daily as opposed to large strides taken occasionally.

Overall, there are times in which we may have a greater commitment to a specific goal; in such cases, intensity might meet that commitment. This is fine, if we recognize that intensity is likely not the plan for the long run. When we ignore this, or expect our extreme plan to last forever, we can end up “off the wagon.” Rather, after a period of intensity, it’s helpful to create a plan for a less intense routine you’re more likely to maintain.

For those not ready for a HIIT workout or giving up every granule of sugar for the rest of your life, don’t sweat it! Ten to fifteen minutes of movement a couple times a day is incredibly human; in fact, it’s closer to how our bodies were designed to move when compared to sitting all day and having one wild hour. Enjoy an indulgent dessert with your family or cocktails and laughter with your friends, while you focus on adding more vegetables each day.

Back to the question: which is better, consistency or intensity? It requires that we, individually, look at the goal, look at our personal commitment level and choose for ourselves. Remember too, the answer can change and if you choose intensity today, you don’t have to choose it tomorrow!

Jennifer Trepeck

Health Coach, Business Consultant, Host of Salad with a Side of Fries Podcast. IG/FB/Twitter:@JennTrepeck