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Exercise goals

Setting your exercise goals

There are two types of goals, the goal of what you want to achieve and the goal of actually achieving it.

Setting goals can give you a much clearer picture and plan of attack to help achieve your desired outcome. It maybe that you want to lose 20 pounds of body fat or you may just want to get a little leaner or put on 10 pounds of muscle, increase your strength, get fitter, train for an event or even a combination of all of these. Whatever your goals are, planning your workouts to achieve these can make a big difference, especially giving focus in the areas you want.

Goal specific exercise routines

Now setting goals is all fine and well, but achieving them is a completely different story. You do need to be specific about what your goal is if you want to maximise a specific area of interest. Ideally if you are obese or overweight and looking to lose fat, do what is required to lose fat, but also be aware that the best method to lose body fat can be intense, so follow my Introduction to fitness section first. If you are looking to gain muscle do what you need to gain muscle and look at my muscle and strength workout plan. Now if you are looking to do both, be aware that progress in one will affect the progress of the other, but it is still very possible to do both, just much much harder to achieve, see my combo plan. Don’t forget your nutrition plan should be part of your plan also.

I know this may be obvious, but if you are looking to get fitter, then you need to do exercises that get you fitter, such as running or cycling for example. Those looking to get stronger or bigger, then you will need to lift weights.

Having realistic goals

You need to also be realistic and give yourself time to do it. Being realistic is important to maintain motivation and avoid feeling like a failure that you didn’t get to the point you wanted. You need to ignore what others are saying on the internet, such as ‘I lost x amount of weight in x amount of weeks’, ‘I gained x amount of muscle in x amount of weeks’. It doesn’t help you in anyway, as we are all individuals with different starting points and genetic makeups.

So how do you set a goal for yourself? Well I’m going to be a bit controversial here and say, you don’t have to have a strict weekly or monthly set goal. That’s right you don’t need it. Have an overall long term goal, for example, I want to lose 50lbs of body fat or I want to gain around 20lbs of muscle, is good enough and is essentially your goal set. Now you still need to be able to measure your progress by either using the mirror, scales or fat calipers and keep a journal, but you will be setting up your workout and nutrition plan for your specific goal, then as you make (or don’t make) progress adjust them against your measured results. This way you are allowing for plateaus, changes in your progress and not stuck to a strict regimented fake non achievable weekly goal. Progress in very rarely linear anyway, you can follow the same routine and nutrition plan and make progress one week and not the other, it’s just the way the body works sometimes. Setting weekly or monthly goals that you can’t hit can be demoralising.

Now with that said, you must stay motivated and still see progress or you have to change something. If progress doesn’t come then you either need to train harder, relook at the food you’re eating and be honest with yourself and make sure you sticking to your routine and nutrition plan. Progress is progress no matter how small, but without hard work and dedication your results will suffer.

So how much effort is needed to make progress?

Progress with your goals is often related to the amount of effort put into sticking to your workout and nutrition plans. For example and to keep the explanation simple, if you put under 50% effort into doing your plans, then you can quite possibly see next to little return for that effort, put in 75% effort and you may see 50% of your potential fat loss/muscle gains and put in 100% effort (and you can’t do any better than that) and so will see as close to 100% of your potential loss/gains. Now that maybe an over simplification, and all things being equal, in my experience it holds true. To be clear here, I’m not talking about physical effort, although that does obviously play a major part, what I’m referring to here, is the amount of effort you put into actually following a plan and not skipping every other workout and cheating on your nutrition plan on a regular basis.

How do I measure my progress?

As a general rule if you are looking to lose body fat get a baseline and don’t weigh yourself or take measurements more than once a week. If you want numbers, look to lose between 1-2 lbs per week. Some people think this isn’t a lot, but if you are looking to shed 50 lbs of body fat, that’s just 25-50 weeks, less than a year at 1lb per week and a lot of weight to lose. Don’t get hung up on the measurements though, just make sure you are going in the right direction. The mirror in my opinion is often a great measure of progress anyway. One thing to note however is if you are lifting weights or gaining muscle, then weighing yourself will not be a good indicator for fat lose, as muscle weighs more than fat and so while you’re gaining muscle and losing fat, the scales will be a waste of time at measuring progress, so use the mirror and tape measure around your waist instead.

If you are wanting to gain muscle, then you are best off looking in the mirror. Trying to add muscle by weighing yourself can easily lead to pure weight gain. Just as a side note the average amount a natural trainer can hope to gain in muscle in a year is between 3-12 pounds. Yes some could get more, but realistically you are looking at the lower to mid point, especially in your older years due to the reduction in testosterone levels.

If you are interested in strength/bodybuilding, it’s important to realise that the routines and training methods for a natural trainer are not that of the steroid using bodybuilders you see in magazines, the internet and Youtube. In order to measure your progress your best bet is to use a journal to keep track of your progress. A journal will allow you to see your starting point and track your exercise performance, allowing you to make any changes where necessary.

If you are looking to get fitter, then consider training for an event and again keep a journal. Your journal could measure either the distance you have completed or the time it took you to complete a set distance.


Remember if you don’t hit your goals it doesn’t matter, so long as you can see progress. You can make all the plans in the world, create complicated calculations for body fat loss and muscle gains, but at the end of the day, you are human and things in the world don’t always work to clockwork or a plan.

Please return to the Exercise and workout section and select your specific goal.