In the past week I have received about 20 emails, each one saying the same thing. I nearly crack up and bury my head in my hands as I read each, responding with the same generic answer. I can practically cut and paste my response from one to another and it would fit perfectly. It's always the same thing "J, I need to lose 20 pounds and bulk up my chest biceps before March 15th. I'll do anything, please help me look like the Abercrombie guys. I bought some Cell-Tech and Hydroxycut, what else do I have to do?"
And you know what the worst part is? I'm only going to get more. Yep, that's right, Spring Break is in a month, and every out of shape, beer guzzling loser is trying to get that perfect body in a month (God, the supplement companies could make a killing off this). So not only will the emails keep flowing, but the gym is going to fill with people stumbling around from machine to machine like a 15-year old when he first gets a girl's shirt off. I was doing side lateral raises the other day, when some skinny kid walked into the weight and screwed up my whole set. No apology, he didn't even acknowledge that it was his fault. I felt like throwing the dumbbell at him. Well, enough of me rambling about the people in the URI gym, this article is about more important things, setting goals.
Let's face it, if you want to accomplish anything, you need a plan. You can't just go out with a hammer, some wood, and expect to build a house. You need some blueprints of how you are going to do it. Also, you need to set a time limit, a week to do the framing, have the siding up by the end of the month, etc. The same holds true for bodybuilding. You need to set goals for yourself, and they need to be realistic and achievable. That's what this article is about.
So what are some realistic goals? Well, you need to understand first that bodybuilding is a long-term commitment. There is no true off-season. There's no big game that you can go home and celebrate after (with the exception of the Mr. Olympia) and your only real competition is yourself. It's your own determination that will carry you. There's no excuses ... you can't say the defense was too strong, or that your wide out dropped a pass. If you have a bad workout, it's all your fault. The pros didn't get this big overnight. They didn't get that big over the course of a couple years. It took most of them about 10 years to get that big, and another two or three concentrating on sculpting and balancing. Even after two years of lifting you may not be as big as you planned. With that said, let's talk about goal setting.
Most of us set out to get bigger, but yet we envision ourselves being huge after only a short period of time. For the average person, it doesn't play out like that. You need to set your sights on something smaller and more achievable. Now I'm not saying don't aim high, I'm simply saying rather to set your goals level by level. Maybe plan to gain 10 pounds over the next 4 months, not 40 pounds over the next year. It's much more achievable and controllable to set short goals than longer ones. Even more so, plan to go up in either weights or reps every week. This will ensure that you are gaining. The spring break trainees will probably lose hope and give up after spring break is over. I might see 1/5 of them in the gym after that week off.
If you are trying too lose weight, you must realize that your weight loss won't be in a straight line. You will lose a lot of fat fast, and then it will slow. Dropping from 20% to 10% body fat may take as little as 6 weeks, while dropping from 10% to 6% could take as much as 16 weeks. Set your sights at about a pound per week, and don't give up until you are where you want to be.
Having a goal and a plan is just as important out of the gym as it is in it. You wouldn't go into a workout having no clue what you're going to do, would you? No, you know exactly what exercises, weights and reps you're going to use. You should have the same mind set out of the gym. Right now I'm tipping the scale at a steady 200 pounds, I plan on being 210 by the time school gets out in May. Then I'll slowly cut up that way when school starts up again in September I can show my abs off to all the freshman girls (yeah, I specifically picked the same dorm - fresh meat). Set goals for yourself and break them. You already know what you are doing in the gym, don't wander around aimlessly out of it.
"Heaven and hell exist in the mind. Heaven is what you make it, and hell is what you go through to get there." -GZA
Till next time, keep pumping.