GOALS! – Climbing the mountain one step at a time.
To train with a purpose you need to identify goals. Identifying goals provides a meaning and motivation to train at your absolute best. A goal is anything that is specific to you. It could be a target body fat (BF)%, a maximum squat weight or a sport specific achievement etc. But you need to keep it fresh. Change your goals frequently, not too often, but don’t look at the same goal year after year as they will become a burden. Identify one long term goal and then multiple short term goals within that time frame. For example, if you’re holding 30% body fat and want to get down to 15% that’s not going to be happening overnight. This goal is long term. So instead of looking into the distance of the end goal, which could take some time, identify smaller goals to help you along the way but make sure they are measurable. The first goal could be losing 5% body fat. This goal can be achieved in less time and 5% is a genuine measurement.
Great you have reached your first target. However, within this time improvements of strength and fitness have amassed and ten push-ups from the floor is now looking possible. So your new short-term goal takes a slight detour and is now to perform ten floor push-ups. By doing this, the focus shifts slightly to the new task and it becomes more interesting. So, over a short time you reach ten (measurable) full push-ups within your training session and you now find your body fat has dropped to 22%. While your short-term focus was on a different task a dent has been made in your long-term goal. I like to call this the “side-effect prosperity”
Averting attention from the long-term plan but still making an impact inadvertently.
Think of it this way. A business person doesn’t become a millionaire overnight. The business or businesses are built over time and he/she gains prosperity over time. Their prosperity or wealth is a side effect of building a business. Many avenues and smaller goals would have been explored and achieved along the way.
While your body fat percentage has been coming down and your strength going up your fitness levels have also improved. You now realise that rowing record on the gym wall is not far away from your own time. So again you avert your focus to a new goal all the time still chomping away at the long-term. Once you have achieved your short-term goal of rowing champion your body fat is 18%. Now your long-term goal of 15% is in sight your focus is now upon that goal.
This method could and should be used with athletes and non-athletes alike regardless of goals. However, short-term goals should be specifically related to the long-term goal. For example, if the long-term goal is a power lifting competition and too much time is spent trying to win the 2000m rowing competition then you will hit a problem!
Make goals S.M.A.R.T
Specific – Individual to you or your client. It may be the guy or girl next to you in the gym training to be the next strongman/woman. Their focus is purely to be as strong as humanly possible so lifting heavy is specific to their particular goal. If you or your client’s goal is to drop body fat then maximal strength is not the prime focus or priority. This would need a more specific approach to fat loss.
Measurable – Make sure it can be measured. If body fat is the goal make sure you have the equipment to measure it. If not, do not identify body fat as a goal. Use inches lost or clothes size as a measurement. With this you could use visual aids such as photographs (before/after). If it can’t be measured then it simply is not a goal. Many first time clients when asked about goals will respond with “I want to be fitter and more toned”. So this is not a very specific response but increasingly common. Tone can’t be measured and quite frankly doesn’t make any sense, however, look to what you can take from this. Change the terminology of “tone” to “lean” then you have a body fat goal. Again “fitter” is a not a great terminology, however take a fitness test and use the results as a measure.
Achievable – Do not identify goals that are unachievable. For example, an untrained 120lbs individual is not going to be an elite strongman anytime soon. This doesn’t mean the long-term goal can’t be a strongman event but identify goals along the way that are achievable. Set shorter-term goals such as a body weight equivalent back squat for reps, a double body weight maximal deadlift etc
Realistic – Unless you have the pleasure of working with an elite athlete or you are yourself, at an elite level, then the chances are most of us are not going to be in the next Olympics so aiming to be the next Usain Bolt is not realistic. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t aim high just bring it down to a more realistic level. If you are an athlete with high aspirations keep your feet on the ground, aim to win your next event then see where it takes you.
Timeframe – If there is no timeframe there is no end! One year from now you will still not have achieved your goal. A timeframe offers a deadline. It creates motivation and direction. Don’t make the mistake of giving yourself or a client too much time, as motivation will decease. This is where multiple smaller goals become significant. Keep timeframes short.
To wrap up!
Identify a long-term goal. Then identify multiple short-term goals within this time frame. Keep the goals specific to yourself or your client and make sure it can be measured. Make sure the goal is achievable with the abilities and qualities you currently possess or have to work with in a client. Work on enhancing performance and new goals that may have been unachievable in the past become a realistic possibility. Be realistic! Elite level athletes are anomalous. Their genetic makeup allows them to possess natural skills, strength, speed and power superior to us regular folk! This doesn’t mean you can’t have high expectations. Just bring them to a more realistic level. Goals change over time. As performance increases the bar is set higher. Maybe there is an athlete ready to be woken inside. But first find your level. Work to be the ultimate best at that level and then break it. Set a timeframe in which to achieve the identified goal/goals. Stick to this timeframe. Once this has past retest/measure then reassess.