by Dave Thomas
I talk a lot about goals on this website. How to set them, how to reach them and what the correct mental state should be prior to heading down the path of lofty goals.
At Performance360, our entire philosophy is based around goals. Our walls are plastered with clubs, accomplishments, records and ways to continuously be motivated to progress, whether you are on your first day or a five year veteran.
While I love specific goals (i.e. a 300# front squat, sub 8:00 mile, etc.), I believe that most people can get more benefit of out taking more of a macro approach with their approach to fitness. When you apply a 30,000 foot view to your goals, often just the shifting of efforts and concentration tends to outweigh the exact percentage of weight on the bar, whether or not you hit your thirty minute post workout window, etc.
Here are five incredibly boring goals that I suggest to you.
Learn to Accomplish
This is an easy one. Many people talk about achieving great things but the reality is that many of us do not have to track record to support that coming to fruition.
To say you want to lose twenty pounds when you have a track record of quitting three weeks in is putting the cart before the horse.
Your ability to work hard needs re-wiring, and you need to get used to accomplishing. Doesn’t have to be a major milestone to be noteworthy, something as simple as hitting your goal of sticking with a gym for three months. Start small and get yourself used to success.
Once you have the ability to accomplish, then you get to create goals.
Improve Your Consistency
The next step is to create accomplishment volume.
Forget what anyone tells you. Volume is king to most any goal when it comes to diet or training.
Stringing multiple days of healthy eating together is volume.
Showing up to the gym four days instead of two is volume.
Squatting twice per week instead of one is volume.
Getting two years of training instead of one is volume.
Further, your efforts must be consistent across the board. You cannot pick and choose effort. This is not to say that everyday must be an all out effort (it shouldn’t), it simply means you cannot be a two-face with your gym personalities. You can’t work hard one day, then have a poor attitude and half ass the next. That’s not consistent and results are about multiplying efforts, not subtracting them.
If you feel like you’re going to have a shit gym session, honestly, just stay at home. You’re better off getting the recovery and you don’t bring that negative energy into your routine, not even for a second, for when you let it once you tend to get more lenient with letting it in again and you accept mediocre output.
Only consistent efforts are allowed.
Own Movement Pattern
I cannot stress the importance of coding proper movement pattern into your autonomous behavior. We live in a world of social media influenced gym behavior, and as such, every novice lifter wants to immediately get to Level: Rich Froning.
We see athletes in the landscape of the internet doing impressive things and we want to emulate. This in turn creates routines where athletes jump right into near maximal lifting in hopes of accelerating the process.
Instead of shortcuts, take the long boring road.
Do more of the little things and maintenance.
The importance of establishing pattern and stability in your movements is, well, everything. It’s everything.
It’s a quote I have dropped many times on this blog but as powerlifter, strongman and deadlift world record holder Andy Bolton cautions, “It takes five hundred reps to make a movement automatic, but three thousand to undo a faulty movement pattern and re-groove it”.
Would you rather do 500 or 3,000?
I would even take that a step further and say that it takes a re-certifying of your own reps once you think you’re in automatic good rep territory. Things happen when you begin to only lift heavy all the time. Your mechanics change because muscular and stability weaknesses are revealed.
To ensure bad habits do not get ingrained, I recommend deloads and body weight work not for recovery but to focus on technique, drive and stability.
Bypass or ignoring this will cost you down the line either in the form of injury or stalled gains.
Let’s take a heavy squat, for example.
Underneath load of 70% and up, there is much more at play that simply strong quadriceps. Our trunk is being asked to stabilize our spine. In order for that trunk to remain stable, our hips must place the spine at an angle to allow it. In order for the hips to achieve this position, they need mobility in the ankles.
If any of these suffer an acute breakdown, we’ll not be at our potential for that lift.
They are only learned and developed through moving. Moving at light weight that allows the development of stability in needed areas and movement pattern in advanced, compound lifts.
I’ve never seen anyone be successful jumping this process.
On the flip side, the athletes who pay attention to this stuff even as they move further along the curve are the people who stay injury free and free of long-term plateaus.
Few things irks me more than seeing someone who can squat 300# perform a dog shit body weight or goblet squat because they think it’s beneath them.
Respect The Process
Your training is working, you’re seeing great results and your diet is dialed in.
Then you up and change things for no other reason than thinking you need something you don’t.
You start thinking you’re a little past your pay grade and you suddenly think you need the Bulgarian method when you just became good at squatting a few months ago.
Let me do three squat days per week.
Let me try and add this morning fast on top of this plan that’s already working.
Let me add two-a-days to my training.
Hold the course and don’t fix what is not broken.
In my personal opinion, this is the number one de-railer of a train that’s right on time for the station. Conductor presses the gas a bit harder, takes the turns faster, tries to re-route the course and then whoopsies, the train is off the tracks upside down on fire.
Just Eat Better
If you are a lean, strong athlete there is a likely chance that you need a specified diet to continue to trend in the direction you want to. If you compete or need to be a certain weight requirements, you probably need something relatively regimented and strict.
However, if you’re not any of those things you likely don’t need to meticulously weigh your food and track macros, fast til 2, be concerned with intra workout nutrition or any other nutrition topic du’jour.
You probably just need to stop consistently making poor food and drinking choices.
(Full disclosure, I do track macros in my attempt to get underneath 10% body fat.)
This is not to say you shouldn’t create a great diet plan and adhere to it, it’s just to say that if you’re more than 20% body fat for a man, 25% for a woman, you will probably shed two to four percent by not eating the bad foods you know that you eat and going to the bars less.
On the flip side, if you’re a skinny twerp like me, you don’t need to obsess over your nutrition, sets and programming to gain mass. You just need to be a big boy (or girl) and eat up.
Focus on first learning to eat whole foods across all macronutrients, then worry about learning how to restrict, manipulate and move the dial to create different outcomes.
All five of these are goals that can benefit most any level of athlete.