Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Importance of Defining your Goals

Lots of people thoroughly enjoy their time in the gym and many others struggle each and every day, literally having to drag themselves out of bed in order to get their prescribed workout completed. It would seem obvious that the person who enjoys a good workout would likely have less trouble reaching their individual goals than the person who could barely stomach driving by the gym, but this isn’t always the case.

The ability to successfully achieve the goals set and doing so in a timely manner can depend upon quite a few factors, the least of which may be enjoying breaking a good sweat. If you don’t have a properly designed plan that focuses on achieving your ultimate goal, that goal could be very hard to come by - regardless of your level of passion and commitment to your workout.

For example - if your goal is to be a world class competitive bench presser, than the flat bench press would probably be the most likely choice to center your workouts around, in doing the exercise that you need to improve upon to reach your goal you will be both strengthening the particular muscles that need the most strengthening and you’ll be improving your technique which will also generate overall improvement. Of course you would need supplemental movements in your routine as well, many of them would work to strengthen the secondary muscles involved in the movement - the shoulders, triceps, lats and core; but the primary focus would be the flat bench press.

Following this very basic example, it should seem fairly obvious that if your goal were to cut your percentage of body fat by 5% and improve mobility that the bench press may not necessarily be the ideal focal point of your workout program, why then do I see so many men with so many different goals lying on the flat bench and pressing away three days a week?

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the allure of the bench press - I also understand that is a pretty effective exercise for strengthening the pecs, what I don’t understand is why it is the focal point of so many exercise routines. We no longer live in the dark ages where this information is so exceedingly difficult to come by, there really aren’t any secrets anymore; in fact, there are a number of sources online where you can obtain high quality training information for free these days.

Too few people seem to be willing to do the appropriate research required to ease the road to their goal, and ultimately those are the people who eventually become frustrated with the lack of results and end up giving up. The problem in many cases isn’t genetics or the lack of time to be able to achieve a good workout; it’s a total mis-structure of the plan in relation to the goal.

The surprising thing to many people is that your passion or enjoyment for your workout may have very little to do with the level of success that you actually achieve from the time that you spend in the gym. You could literally enjoy every second of every hour that you spend working out for each of the six days a week that you visit your neighborhood gym, but if your plan isn’t properly tailored to reach the goals that you have for yourself you may never reach them; meanwhile the guy working out on the machine next to you struggles through each and every rep might reach his goal in what seems like record time because his routine has been well thought out in accordance with what he is trying to achieve.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with the bench press, I do it myself, but unless your primary objective in working out is to improve your bench press then it may not necessarily be the prime choice for a focal point of your routine. The same goes for a number of individual movements that I see being performed as the primary movements in routines everyday - dumbbell curls, lateral raises and dumbbell flies may all have very good places in routines as secondary movements depending on the individual goal, but none of them should be the primary movement in someone’s exercise routine.

If you don’t have a definitive goal - it’s time to get one, because the majority of your efforts in the gym will yield little return if you have no goal in mind. If you have a goal, thoroughly examine your workout routine in relation to your goal to ensure that the movements that you are performing will produce the results that you are after.

This is where some trainees simply can’t get along without the help of a good personal trainer (notice the italicized good in front of trainer, it’s not a mistake - if you are going to seek out a trainer to hire make sure that they are educated, respected and capable. Don‘t start spending money on a recommendation from your health club, get real life references), a trainer can help you define your foggy goals into something more concrete and tangible and they should be able to construct a solid road map to help get you there.

If you have plenty of experience in the area of fitness and proper diet, if you’ve properly educated yourself on these matters, you may not need to enlist the help of a trainer - but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the routine that you’ve designed for yourself will be an effective one to reach your goals. Every six weeks it’s good to re-examine the things that you are doing in the gym and to go back over your training journals to see exactly how you’ve been progressing.

There is no one perfect training routine, even people of similar ages and body types who have virtually the same goals may require different training programs in order to reach those goals. The key to your ultimate success is to develop as sound a strategy as you can toward your ultimate goal, then keep meticulous records as you progress and make any necessary changes along the way.

Some people let ego or single moment achievement get in the way of real life goals, you shouldn’t go to the gym and just bench press because that’s what all of your gym buddies do, nor should you sit lackadaisically pedaling in the spinning class because you think that it’s a good chance to pick up a woman - define your goals first, then train soundly to achieve them.

No comments:

Post a Comment