The 7 Secret Ingredients to Better Physique
- Nutrient Dense Food
- Carefully Controlled Calorie Intake
- Progressive Resistance Training
- The Right Dose of Cardio
5. A Mind Focused On Well-Formed Goals
We also often jump into the process of achieving those goals, without writing those goals down and considering what it takes to achieve those goals. Many people come to me with vague ideas of what they want:
- I want to be more toned
- I want to get healthier
- I want to be stronger
These are not definitive goals; they are nebulous and illusive. These goals say, "I can't explain what these things are, I just know I want them". Goals need to be clear objectives. When your objective is clear, you can formulate a game plan of how to achieve those goals. Better still, your trainer or coach will have a better idea of how to get you started. Beginning the journey can be the hardest part when your goals lack clarity.
Here's what you do:
- Write down 5 goals you want to achieve relating to health, fitness, performance, weight, accolades, or experiences, E.g...
- I want to lower my Resting Heart Rate
- start a new sport
- compete on the provincial level
- drop 22 lbs
- deadlift 1.5x bodyweight
- Circle the 3 that are most important to you
- Identify the one goal you want to achieve RIGHT NOW...
....this is where you begin.
Something to bear in mind is that setting performance goals can be moot if you are in an introductory stage. For example, a client may come to me and say they want to get stronger. Even though this goal is vague, if they have never lifted before, then this goal may actually be as specific as it has to be. In the first 6-weeks of training, I expect this client to get stronger just by virtue of never having lifted before. But for me to say:
"Well this week we will test your MAX, then spend the next 3 weeks working your 65/75/85% RM respectively, at which point we will retest and repeat this process."
There's problems that arise with this program. At the onset, we may need 4 weeks or so (depending on how often they train) for them to even LEARN the movement(s); then another 3-4 weeks BUILDING STABILITY in the lifts to handle reps above 12, or intensities beyond 70% RM.
I cannot expect to use my tools effectively, without first learning the tools of the trade, and the proper work flow. You shouldn't either.
This is a scenario where the TIMELINE of your goals may not correlate with your initial expectations.
It may be prudent to have Outcome, Performance, and Process goals for the same objective:
- Outcome - make Candidate for Master of Sport at 2017 Nationals
- Performance - snatch at 14 RPM for 10 continuous minutes
- Process - refine technique, and build endurance capacity at 14 RPM over the next several months
Before you even start chasing a goal, you must identify the reason why. The best reasons are very personal, and placed high in priority. If you can't think of a personal reason, you may have to create one. For example, family may not influence any of your life decisions, until you start one of your own. So you may have to place yourself in a situation that necessitates forms of accountability or purpose that you never had before.
When you begin a new sport you will often have teammates. Teammates keep you accountable just out of fear of letting them down, and FEAR is the most effective motivator. In this way, starting a new sport can be a support system for your other goals, because you know that to be at your best for your team's sake, you must train. When you train, your body changes.
I like this method of initiating aesthetic goals because sometimes its difficult to gauge the appropriate level of progress, especially for beginners. Sports help develop the necessary body awareness to thrive at higher levels of performance; the levels where reaching and maintaining goals becomes much easier. Letting your physical development take its course naturally while you focus on your new hobby/sport, helps you stay motivated to move, while not obsessing over body image. Once you've spent a season or two focused on your sport, you can then be in a more well-informed position to form goals that require a little more effort and training frequency.
Starting a sport also helps you stay realistic about the effort and time required to achieve your goals. Recreational sports can change your body, but you can expect that you may need to add 2-3 hours of weight training to your 4hrs of soccer practice to get your ideal body - because cardio will not support muscle growth or maintenance.
You will also have to expect that if you're eating Burger King 2x per day, you will likely have to adjust your nutrition to help you to your next plateau of physical development. There is often one more thing you could be doing to make you more healthy, improve your performance, or harden those abs. I don't want to tell you to take on more than what's necessary, but avoid making excuses for not putting in work where work can be done.
At the end of the day, the simplest and most obvious steps include finding a credible training program and nutritional advice. At the very least, you mustn't succumb to crash dieting or restriction diets. These diets are destined to fail because:
- Our bodies fight back
- Our brains fight back
- Our environment fights back
Keep these points in mind:
- consider the long road - an estimated 95% of dieters gain all their weight back, sometimes more. Then again, some keep it off (including me!). The secret is one part short-term execution, one part long-term sustainability
- aim for 0.5-1.5 lbs weight loss weekly (greater than 0.5lb loss weekly incurs metabolic slow down)
- in the first week of weight loss, 70% is water, 25% is fat, 5% is muscle protein (nitrogen loss increases water output)
- expect 2-3lb fluctuation in weight from water-gain/losses daily
- no one goes to bed skinny and wakes up fat - if you put it on slow, it must come off slow
- the more you restrict, the more you crave. Your diet should be based on moderation
- not all of your goals will be congruous: dropping bodyfat often sacrifices strength. Work on these goals in turn
- You don't have to PR every workout. PR's are for testing strength, not training it. You must train strength to build it. Over time, try working up to a 10 rep range with weights that permit 7-8 reps. Build this strength.
Hill et al. What predicts weight regain in a group of successful weight losers? Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 67:2(1999):177-85
Levitsky, D.A. The Non-Regulation of Food Intake in Humans. Journal of Physiology and Behaviour 86:5 (Dec, 2005):623-32