This post deals with goal setting. Once you have surpassed the beginning stages of exercising (months 1-3) goal setting will become more and more crucial with regard to receiving a decent return for your efforts in the gym or on the field. Goals need to be set for both the short and the long term, and goals need to be as precise as possible.
“The difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline.”
The timeless wisdom contained in this quote deals with ACTION and TIME. A dream is a goal that you have visualized in your head, you have thought about taking the necessary steps to acheive, and the only thing holding you back is lack of ACTION. In the words of Nike “Just do it”, or on the banner of http://www.facebook.com/bevans100fitness “Do not think, ACT.” Too many people out there have too many dreams that are never acheived simply because the dream is stopped at the visualization stage, and when it comes time to specifically plan steps in chronological order to lead to the fullfilment of the dream, most people let things end right there. The key is never lose sight of your dreams, find out who else has acheived your dream, find out HOW they acheived it, and begin practicing. It is simple, and the prior sentence applies to everything in life, it is not fitness specific.
The other tangent that led me to write about this topic is a lot of crossfit stuff popping up on facebook, of course always being posted by people new to fitness, crossfit coaches with money to make, or crossfit competitors (basically the only microcosm of the sport that doesn’t irritate me). The attraction of crossfit is that it makes you pretty good at everything. The critics of crossfit contend that it won’t make you GREAT at anything. Training to be shredded and aesthetic will make you more shredded than crossfit, training for strength will make you stronger, training for aerobic endurance will provide better aerobic endurance, training for speed will make you faster… and my #1 issue with xfit, sports specific training WILL ALWAYS carry over more towards sports. The inevitable “come back” argument is that the xfitter is sexier than the powerlifter, more aesthetic/natural looking than the steroid bodybuilder, stronger than the marathon runner, and more functional than the fitness model (you don’t need a degree in sports medicine to see why these arguments are fairly irrelevant). If a fitness model at the top of the game walks into an xfit facility, they will surely be challanged to some exercise they have never done before, and then told they are not functional. I apologize but I train to look sexy and be healthy, and unless some catastrophic apocalyptic event takes place destroying all guns and technology, I will never need any of the “athletic” qualities trained by xfit. The games are a legit sport however, and when people who aren’t big fans of the training methodology say that the athletes aren’t real athletes or the games aren’t a real sport, they are really just being jealous haters. Of course it is a real sport.
Football is a real sport too. I don’t recommend females trying to “tighten and tone” their buns engage in the same type of training that a collegiate outside linebacker would do, either.
FIRST PERSON EXAMPLE OF GOALS: As of 8/1/13, I had recently had my picture taken. I made the most common rookie mistake of over-dieting, and I came in looking smaller (muscle wise), too dehydrated, and just generally too skinny. I planned to be shot at too early a date and was playing catch up with fat loss at the very end, rather than coming off the diet at the very end, which would allow my muscles to have a more full appearance. Ironically I was looking better the week after the shoot and the week before the shoot than the week of.
Like I was saying, as of 8/1/13, I had very little fat left to lose, had lost a bit of muscle, and due to an abnormally long and aggressive period of dieting, my metabolism was in the perfect state to lift some heavy iron and pack on muscle mass (my metabolism was not expecting excess protein, CHO, or kcal, and thus anything “extra” that I ingest, is much more likely to build muscle, because my body at that point was used to running on a kcal deficit). Here I am re-explaining something I have already explained. For those of you who have kept up with my posts, I was super insulin sensitive at the start of this month, and I still am to some degree. I do not own a scale but I would estimate I have gained about 10 lbs this month (a lot of that is water but still), and my waist size has changed less than 1 inch, if at all.
Short term goal: *Bench press 1 rep max needs to increase to 350
*Overhead press 1 rep max weight needs to
increase to 225.
*One arm dumbell row repetition weight
(atleast 5 reps), needs to increase to a 200 lb
*Front squat repetition weight needs to increase
to 275 lbs.
I base these goals on my physical weakpoints being chest size, delt size, biceps size, and quadriceps size (that list of weak points is in the same order as the exercises used to correct the weakness)…. All of the “mirror muscles.” Ironically by training functionally and hitting each major muscle with similar amounts of intensity, volume, and exercises, I end up being deficient compared to others in the same field for the “beach muscles,” that most athletes overly focus on. The good news is it is a lot easier to bring up lagging biceps and delts than to be the guy who is benching 400lbs and doesn’t train legs.
And my longterm goal: Consistently produce pictures/a physique that is bigger (stronger), and more defined (lower bodyfat %) than previously. For me fitness is a permanent lifestyle I will never stray from, and the short term goals are much more difficult than the long term goals, because the long term goals (over the course of years) allow me enough time to screw around for a month or two here and there and still in the long run make progress.
The issue with not making goals… Is that haphazard efforts produce haphazard results.
Personally, I feel that a mixture of group fitness classes and customized personal training sessions is ideal for most individuals. With only group classes, sure you will burn a lot of kcal, sure you will get a better workout than you probably would on your own, but none of it is customized, and none of it is tailored to acheive your specific goals. The reason I say “a mixture” is ideal, is that most individuals do not need personal attention during cardio/interval sessions, and group instructors get paid more, and group fitness clients, pay less than personal clients.
To sum things up, you should know exactly what your short term goals are. They should involve specific numbers. There should be specific deadlines in place to achieving these goals. There should be indicators (I already wrote a different post about this) in place, to allow you to evaluate if you are making progress towards your goal, are stagnant, or are moving backwards (relapsing). The indicators will allow you to shorten periods of unproductive workouts to make corrections, and also help you to realize more quickly what works FOR YOU.
Doing extremely difficult workouts that are not customized or goal oriented in any way, will keep you in decent shape, but nothing magical will happen, unless you are blessed with magical genetics. If you are blessed with awesome genetics, you probably aren’t paying anyone, group or personal, to train you anyway.
Just some food for thought.