It is commonplace in the health and fitness field to see people come into the gym and look, feel, and be the same; day in and day out. You’ve seen them, heck you might even be one of them. In the gym doing the same routine because it “feels good” or “it’s what you’ve always done.” Eating the same things because they “don’t know what to eat.” They have an excuse for everything about why they aren’t making progress. “Had a rough day at work,” “Cars in the shop,” “I just didn’t feel good.” I’m not here to say that some days you might need to take a break. There are circumstances that cause one to take time off from the gym and far be it for me to tell anyone what circumstances are worthy of making that decision for someone. However, in the end you came up with a goal that you wanted to obtain. You made a commitment to yourself to become better at whatever it was you wanted to be better at. Whether you are an competitive athlete or the “average joe” you owe it to yourself to accomplish that goal because you took the time to design the goal. You owe it yourself to see your way to end of the road.
What’s Your Goal?
Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain weight, compete in something or just lifting/exercising for your health you should have a goal in mind. In fact, that goal should be written down. The typical coach and trainer speak might come off as annoying, often with the conversation starting with the question “what is your goal?” There is a reason that question gets asked. A goal is not only something to aspire to, but it is that intrinsic factor that holds you accountable. Often times I’ll get athletes and clients who do not know what their goal of training is. More often than not it’s to the effect of “I just want to look or feel better.”Or better yet I’ll get an athlete say to me “I want to get faster or stronger.” While that’s great that you’re in the gym and discussing this; I challenge you to think deeper about why your in the gym in the first place. How many pounds do you want to lose? In how many months? You want to get faster, okay in what – the forty, 3 cone, etc. Think about how that specific goal will make you better. Once you have something specific then we have something to work with.
Forming “Functional” Goals
I probably hate the word “functional” more than any other person in the strength and fitness field. It’s an overused word that typically doesn’t have anything to do with aspects of training that are actually functional. It’s just a synonym for hard. However, functional goals are different. Many of us may have come across the acronym S.M.A.R.T before. It stands for specific, measurable, achievable or agreed upon, realistic and time. This acronym gives an outline on what a functional goal looks like. So, how can we make a goal go from basic to functional? Let me use losing weight as an example. A client comes in and tells me “I want to lose weight.” Now let’s take that and make it a S.M.A.R.T goal. First add something specific. Go from I want to lose weight to I want to lose 10 pounds. That’s more specific. It is also measurable because we can weigh a client at the start and again later on. Is losing 10 pounds achievable? Yes. Is it realistic? It depends. The key factor for any functional goal is the time component. We can take a really “smart” goal and make ruin it by putting an unrealistic timetable on it. If this same client were to come up to me and say “I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 days,” we might have to pull back on the reigns a little bit. A pound a day in this example would be difficult especially for a first time gym goer. Now if we cater toward the more realistic side and said let’s shoot for 4-6 weeks then we’re cooking with gas.
Keeping the Goal in Mind
The goal is what should drive progress. It should be the thing that gets you out of bed and brings you to the gym. It should linger constantly in the back of your mind. It’s the focal point of your training and should be the driving force behind why you do what you do during a given workout. That even extends to outside the gym. What you eat, how you sleep, how you recover from training sessions all play a role in you achieving that goal.
Come prepared everytime you hit the gym. Have the mindset to do what you set out to do, do the work. If you have questions don’t be afraid to ask them. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and enjoy the ride. Best of luck!