When looking at your week of workouts and deciding on what you can expect in terms of results, it’s important that you know what is realistic to expect.
It’s funny, because there are certain things that provide a linear return—meaning every time you do some work, you get a specific return on that work. For example, if you have a part-time job you might get paid x number of dollars for x hours of work. When you work more, you get paid more, and when you work less you get paid less.
There are other things where you need to go beyond a certain threshold before it really starts to pay off. For example, a student in school might do half the work and receive a 50% for a grade—but 50% is still an F, just like a "0" is. You actually get the same grade for doing half the work as you receive for doing no work! It doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the way it works in the real world.
The same pattern applies to exercise. If you exercise all the muscles in your body just once a week, or perform cardio just once or twice per week, you will be doing about 50% of the work required to achieve results.
Many exercisers do some workouts but also skip some, and become frustrated because they have reached a plateau. They feel that they should be getting better results because they are putting in some work. The reality is that the payoffs become exponentially better when you do all the workouts in a smartly designed training program—or at least 80% of them. When you only do half the work, you are being really unfair to yourself because, although you are putting in half the time that the people put in who are really successful, you will not get to enjoy half the results—you probably will get little to no good results (like getting an "F" in school). I don’t say this to make you feel bad--I say this to motivate you to just put that little bit of extra time in to make all that you are doing worthwhile.
The difference in time invested is even smaller when you compare an "average" result (a "C") to and "excellent" one (an "A"). For example, two full-body weight training sessions per week generally yields “average” results, but just one more per week, three, would be “excellent.” For cardio, doing cardio three times a week is generally “average,” and four or five is “excellent.” The specific recommendations vary from person to person, but you get the general idea.
This idea applies to your diet as well. If you are watching your diet and have brought your calories down from, for example, 3000 per day to 2000, that’s great progress, but if the 2000 maintains your weight, all you would have to do is drop just a couple hundred more and you would be losing weight! You’ve already done the hard work of dropping 1000 calories a day, but for just a little bit more effort, you would get all the results you’ve been looking for. It’s a shame to stop with the goal so closely within your grasp.
Many people are right on the cusp of what they need to do for maximal results, yet they haven’t shown that extra consistency and effort required setting them apart from the struggling masses. Don’t let this happen to you! Work just as hard at sticking to your routine as you do anything else you take seriously in your life. If take a "half-assed" approach to your training and nutrition your results will reflect that. You deserve better!