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Just Keep Going: The Lifter’s Formula for Momentum

p=mv. In physics, that means mass (m) moving at some velocity (v) produces momentum (p). The formula also works physiologically when it comes to increasing your muscle mass and improving muscle definition. Yet, if the property of momentum is so simple to understand, why can building momentum be so hard to do? Why is it that a person can work out repeatedly and not see any difference in their appearance?

It’s because p=mv, while a succinct formula, is more nuanced than it appears. Within the equation, there are a couple of implied but unspecified variables, namely consistency and time. In other words, momentum inherently requires consistent motion and time to build, and an extended lapse in either one of these implied variables therefore negatively affects momentum.

But let’s set aside equations and mathematical jargon. The layman’s formula for momentum is even more succinct: KEEP GOING. Remember that consistency and time are inherent to building momentum, so when you stop training for several days or weeks in succession, you break your momentum. Of course, you can rebuild it, but you’ll first have to recover the gains you lost while on hiatus.

Despite the sensation of hyperemia, or the “pump,” while you train, that is not when your muscles grow or become more defined. The workout you do today may not noticeably show in your physique until weeks or even months later. Visible muscle development, as such, is a lagging indicator of the work you put in at the gym. In the meantime, keep going.

The first part of this is consistency, and that means training frequently enough to make a difference. Believe it or not, there are people who think lifting weights once a week means they’re putting in the work, but that is not the standard for achieving a transformation. They may get a little stronger, but training once a week consistently, even over a span of several months, is still not frequent enough to change one's physique much, if at all.

Time, the second part, is ultimately a question of one’s commitment to working out in perpetuity. That means no quitting. People are often full of fire and desire when they decide to start training. Then, when they see little to no change after a couple of months, they get discouraged and take their foot off the gas, so to speak. It’s a shame because what they were doing may well have been working. But just as constructing a skyscraper from the ground up takes a lot of time, so does building muscle.

So just keep going. That’s the standard of performance and the only way to get momentum working in your favor.

Sayonara until next time.

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