Archive for the tag - goals

Part II: Frustrated By Lack of Results? Create a Better Game Plan.

If you are frustrated by a lack of results, it’s probably one of two things. Either it’s an issue with your goals, or you need a better game plan. Yesterday, in part I, we discussed the importance of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. Today, in part II, I’ll show you how to connect your workout routine to your fitness goals.

How to Create a Workout Plan that Achieves Your Goals

You have a goal or set of goals. It seems intuitive, but virtually everything that you do at the gym must be connected to those goals. Some people think that going to the gym and doing whatever is a means to achieving their fitness goals - but it’s not.

If your goals involve bigger muscles, for example, your workout must be intentionally structured around that. To get bigger muscles, you’ll want to stick with free weight exercises that involve either dumbbells or barbells. Moreover, you’ll be doing a low number of repetitions (probably between 4 - 8 reps) at a heavy amount of weight. You’ll want your muscles to be fatigued when you perform your last set, and you’ll need to constantly be progressing to heavier and heavier amounts of resistance. Most likely you’ll do different muscle groups on different days, and your cardio will probably come in the form of jogging, running or sprinting in intervals on the treadmill.

If you’re looking to maintain muscles, then your workout must be structured around that, too. When it comes to strength training, don’t increase the amount of resistance for those muscles you are looking to maintain. And, you’ll probably perform 10 or more reps since the weight will be only moderately heavy.

If you’re looking to lose weight, it’s important to build a well-balanced workout schedule that includes cardio and strength training (many people forget about the importance of strength training when trying to lose weight). Intervals are also great for releasing weight, and you’ll probably spend a higher percentage of your time doing cardio than your muscle-building counterparts.

Everyone’s goals are specific, and it’s beyond the scope of this blog post to create a personal workout routine for you (that’s what my Ultimate Guide to Working Out is for), but the point is this: Going to the gym and just doing whatever is not enough - each rep of each set of each exercise of each day at the gym must be intentionally connected to your goal or goals. Know what it takes to get where you want to go - and then do it!

How to Create SMART Goals.

If you’re frustrated by your lack of progress or results, setting SMART goals could help get you there!

Spring is in the air, and the energy and enthusiasm of the season is palpable. As it turns out, Spring is a great time to re-evaluate your fitness progress, and to take a critical look at yourself and how far you’ve come. Or, in some cases, how far you haven’t come.

For those people that are struggling to reach their goals, the issue is likely one of two things. It’s either an issue with the goal itself, or with the plan for achieving it.

Evaluate Your Goal

Today, let’s start by looking at your goal (and tomorrow, in part II, we’ll look at your plan). I help my clients develop SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

  • Specific: We can’t create a map if you don’t know where you want to go. Saying, “I want to look better” is abstract. Saying, “I want my waist to be 2 inches smaller” is more specific. Make your goals as specific and concise as humanly possible.
  • Measurable: To track progress, you need to be able to measure it. We can measure fitness success in inches, pounds, increases in energy, clothes fitting differently, the mirror, before and after pictures, pant/dress sizes, etc. As you think about your goals, keep “measurablity” in mind - see if you can build the measurements right into the goal. Instead of saying, “I want to increase my biceps,” you could say, “I want to increase my biceps by two inches.”
  • Attainable: If you only make 30 minutes of time available for exercise in your busy schedule, don’t expect to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The goals that you set need to be “reality checked” by the amount of time you’re willing to put into working out, the resources available to you, what’s healthy (i.e., losing 20 lbs a week is not healthy), age, what’s humanly possible, etc. Save yourself the frustration by picking realistic, attainable goals. On the other hand, don’t make them too attainable, either.
  • Relevant: The goals you select should be relevant to your life and your wants. The more relevant the goal, the easier it is to put time and effort into achieving it. The goals that you select should add real value to your life.
  • Timely: Set your goals to a specific date. You want a six pack stomach by what date? Beach season? Your birthday? Put it in writing - but remember, be realistic!

Creating SMART goals for yourself will save you a ton of frustration down the road. But what if a SMART goal isn’t enough? Sometimes, the issue isn’t with the goal itself, but rather with the game plan for getting there. Tomorrow, in part II of this series, we’ll help better connect your fitness routine to the goals you are looking to achieve! Stay tuned!

8 Ways to Think Beyond the Scale.

Taking a picture of yourself - and comparing it to another down the road - is just one way to think beyond the scale. (And yes, I got this from

When it comes to measuring progress at the gym, many of us hop on a scale.

If we’ve lost a pound, we rejoice. If we’ve gained a pound, we repent. Indeed, measuring our progress by the scale is one dimension of fitness success, but it’s not the only method of measurement. And it’s not always the most accurate. A scale doesn’t tell the full story.

Consider, for example, a 200 pound man looking to lean up and increase the size of his muscles. After months of working out, he may be discouraged to discover that he’s actually gained weight. But in actuality he’s deceased the amount of fat on his body and packed on some muscle. Muscle is heavy, and the scale won’t tell the story of his body’s transformation.

So, here are a few tips for measuring your success beyond the scale:

  1. Inches. Buy a cloth ruler and measure the girth of those areas that you’re looking to increase/decrease. For our above example, it’s likely that the man’s waistline has decreased - while his chest and biceps have increased.
  2. Body fat percentages. As you exercise, the composition of your body changes. Weight may stay the same - or even increase - but by testing body fat percentages, you should get deeper insight into what’s really happening.
  3. Before and after pictures. Take a picture of yourself in your undies - and store it in a safe place. Compare it to another picture in a few months or a year. See what has changed.
  4. How your clothes fit. As our bodies change, our clothes fit differently. Our pants might become looser, or our shirts tighter in certain areas. This is a very informal but effective way to stay tuned in to your transformations.
  5. Physical activity. Maybe you take the stairs and notice that you’re not winded like usual. This is a valuable indicator of success worth noting - and celebrating!
  6. How you feel. Perhaps you’re usually tired in the afternoons, but now feel energized and enthusiastic. Maybe you’re sleeping better at night. These, too, are measures of success.
  7. Strength. Maybe you’re lifting more weight today than six months ago. Strength is important, and an indicator of progression. I always recommend using a fitness journal to keep track of your progress.
  8. Health. Sure, the physical changes are important - but they pale in comparison to the health benefits of exercise. A friend of mine cured her diabetes through effective diet and exercise. That’s a huge victory, and definitely a measure of success! Compare blood pressure, heart rate and any other number of variables to any changes over time.

And if you do use a scale - it’s not necessarily a bad thing - remember to:

  • Weigh yourself on the same day (i.e., Monday),
  • At the same time (i.e., at 7:00 AM),
  • Under the same circumstances,
  • Fully naked,
  • While being mindful of a scale’s limitations; keep it in perspective.

The bottom line: The scale is just one way to measure your success. Don’t get too caught up on it; use the tips above to help paint a more complete picture of your transformation.

Failing Your Goals.

If you’re exercising, then you probably have goals. If you don’t have goals - make them! Otherwise, it’s like taking a road trip without a destination in mind.

And if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to write down your goals. I like to write “SMART” goals - goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Since my goals are specific, they contain a “by when” date. For example, I might want to increase the circumference of my biceps by 1 inch by April 1, 2011. When April 1 comes along, I can evaluate my results.

But here’s the kicker: Though our goals should be attainable - i.e., it’s physical or mentally possible for you to accomplish whatever goals you create - they shouldn’t be too attainable. Failing to reach about 50% of your goals is a good thing. It means you’re shooting high. It means that you’re really pushing and challenging yourself. After all, it’s better to shoot for the stars and land on the moon than aim for the mountains and reach them.

If you’re reaching all your goals, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.

And remember, “failure” really isn’t failure. It’s just a result - and it’s an opportunity to re-evaluate your goals. Maybe you didn’t accomplish it because it’s actually not that important to you. Or maybe it needs a new deadline, or a new approach. Learn from your results, and evolve.

Want questions do you have about goal setting? And what are some of your fitness goals?