You have a specific goal in mind (lose weight, eat better, build strength, etc.), and that’s fantastic! It’s always great to have goals and aspirations to create a sense of urgency, motivation, and drive.
At the same time, many individuals struggle to realize their goals due to lack of planning. Here’s what you need to keep in mind when setting goals and how to make a plan to get the results you want!
#1 Get Your Mind Right!
The act of just getting started on a new fitness venture can seem rather daunting, which is why it’s helpful to do some “prep work” or planning before delving into a new workout plan or fitness regimen.
If you’re just getting started in the fitness lifestyle, then begin by writing down your goals and figuring out where you want to train -- home, gym, group fitness, etc. Finding the environment that is most suitable to your goals and preferences will do wonders to keep you motivated and on track with your goals. In the early days, it can also be helpful to have a favorite pre-workout or fat burner that gets you excited to show up and put in the work!
If you’re a seasoned veteran of training but perhaps tackling a new challenge, take some time to reflect on your previous training plans and the results you obtained from them. These will provide valuable data points going forward so you know what works and what doesn’t, empowering you to achieve your new goal(s) that much more efficiently.
#2 Be Specific with Your Goal
One of the many reasons individuals struggle to achieve (or even get started on) their fitness goals is a lack of specificity. A common example of this is an individual saying he or she wants to “eat better” or “get fit.”
But, that can mean different things to different people depending on where they currently are in their health and fitness journey as well as where they want to finish.
Focus on trying to make your health/fitness goal as specific as possible, while keeping expectations realistic.
For instance, if you want to lose weight, say, “I want to lose 5 pounds this month.” This gives a specific amount of change (5 pounds) in a certain amount of time (one month) that is realistic (something that is able to be accomplished naturally within the confines of human physiology).
An example of an unrealistic goal is saying you want to put on 25 pounds of muscle this month if you’ve never lifted a weight in your life and have no idea what intense exercise and/or healthy eating is.
For individuals that are focused on maximizing muscle growth (hypertrophy) or strength, there is a distinction between the two. Quite often, when you train for one, you will increase the other, but if you want to maximize either strength or hypertrophy, you’ll need to tweak your training, eating, and recovery specifically for that goal. If you need help with figuring out the right training program and eating plan to achieve your goals, download the 1UP Fitness App where we provide customized training and nutrition for FREE!
#3 Set a Deadline
Setting deadlines can help you stay focused, create a sense of urgency (motivation), and keep you on track with your goal. It also helps to put things into perspective so that you can understand if your goal is realistically achievable.
For instance, losing 30 pounds of body fat in 6 months is a very realistic and achievable goal (lose 5 pounds per month for 6 months straight). Breaking that goal even further down into weeks, it’s about 1.25 pounds of body fat per week.
While this is doable in a safe and healthy manner, it requires commitment, focus, and diligence on your part to stick to a quality nutrition and exercise plan for 6 months (about 24 weeks).
To help you set realistic fitness goals (fat loss, muscle building, strength gain), here are some general guidelines:
- Fat loss: Healthy, sustainable weight loss is generally considered between 1–3% body fat in a month. Keep in mind that fat loss (much like muscle gain, strength development, or any other athletic endeavor) is rarely linear, and a number of factors can affect it -- sleep, stress, diet, etc.
- Muscle gain: Within the first 6-18 months of training (beginner to early intermediate trainee), females can gain up to 1 pound of muscle per month, and males can between 1–3 pounds of muscle per month. It goes without saying that sleep, progressive overload, consuming enough protein, and eating a modest surplus of calories is also essential to maximizing your muscle building potential.
- Maximum strength: Increasing your one-rep max (“1RM” -- the maximum amount you can lift in one single repetition on a specific lift) will happen quite rapidly during the first six months of training. This mostly happens as a result of better movement execution, improved muscle fiber recruitment. As you become more experienced, improvements in your 1RM will take longer and require different tweak to your load and volume cycles (a topic for a different article) as well as your exercise variations.
#4 Determine What Keeps You Accountable
In the early days and weeks of your fitness goal, motivation, excitement, and sheer willpower can be enough to keep you grinding day in and day out. But, as the weeks go by, motivation and excitement can start to wane. It’s at this point that you will need to have other protocols in place (i.e. a backup plan…or two) to keep you going strong and achieve your end goal.
This will vary from one person to another as we’re all motivated and “kept honest” by different things. For some individuals, it could be having a training partner or accountability buddy. For others, it’s interacting with like-minded individuals on forums, social networks, or weekly zoom calls. Yet another way individuals stay consistent is rigorously tracking and analyzing data (sets, reps, sleep scores, step counts, weigh-ins, etc.), and by seeing the trends and positive changes, they are encouraged to keep doing what they’ve been doing so the results keep coming.
Any and/or all of these may be right for you, or you may find something completely different that motivates you to stay consistent with your diet and exercise regimen. Individuals that join our transformation challenge and download the 1UP FItness App gain access to our exclusive Facebook community for added motivation, encouragement, and coaching tips to achieve ultimate success.