Setting realistic goals

Setting realistic goals

As I mentioned in my post about the LiveFit Trainer last week, the main reason I don’t like the program is because it promotes an unrealistic view of achieving goals. So… what is a realistic goal?

Although I have a lot of readers who choose to remain anonymous (don’t be shy!), I believe the majority are women who are looking to build muscle while remaining lean. As that’s my personal goal, it’s only natural that those reading would aspire to achieve something similar.

While I’m generally against striving to obtain somebody else’s physique (because we all have different genetic make-ups and it is therefore quite unrealistic!) I want to eventually look something like this:

Of course, I would pick Erin Stern!

Do I think it’s going to take me three months to get there, a la Jamie Eason? No. I’m working towards my goals on a five year timeline, and even then if I push myself to the absolute limit I’m probably not going to get there in time – given that Erin has been an athlete for decades. Despite what the magazines tell you, getting a body like that isn’t going to take days, weeks or even months. It is hard work, and you have to be extremely committed to reaching your goal – you cannot just assume that you will make it there by accident.

My first muscle gaining cycle lasted almost a full year, and then I stripped away the approximate four kilograms of fat I gained. I was following a bulk/cut cycle because I was planning on competing in May this year, so I needed to build as much muscle as possible in a relatively short time frame. But when we decided to move to London, I knew I would not be competing for some time. Since then I have been following a slow gain approach. I’m trying to build muscle, but with a less amount of accompanying fat than last time.

But if I do gain fat? Big deal. You cannot expect to gain muscle while maintaining a perfect six pack. Unless you are extremely blessed genetically, it is practically impossible to do that. I don’t have crazy defined abs right now, but I’m totally fine with it.

Sorry for terrible lighting!

If you are serious about gaining muscle and becoming stronger, you have to accept that is a slow process, and one that is likely to make you feel uncomfortable along the way. You have to accept that your clothes will start to become tighter, and you will see the number on the scale go up – not that you should be using that to measure your progress anyway.

A big turning point in my approach to training was when I stopped striving for aesthetic gains, and focused on setting strength goals. The minute I stopped obsessing about getting cut, and having a perfectly sculpted butt, was when my body started to make the greatest changes of all.

Some of my medium-term strength goals include: deadlifting twice my body weight, squatting 1.5 times my body weight, benching my body weight (I’m close!) and completing my first unassisted chin up. I am so, so close to achieving the latter: Last week, I did two reps, but they weren’t completed unassisted – Rob had his hands on my legs, but swears he didn’t help me. Until I do them completely on my own, though, they don’t count! But I had a dream last night I was banging out multiple reps easily, so I think I’m pretty close.)

Aesthetically, my goals remain to compete in a figure competition. My main focus right now is my shoulders, and I will be hammering them in as many ways as I can think of over the coming weeks. The good news I have almost achieved my goal of having shoulders as wide as my hips.

What are your goals, and how much time have you given yourself to achieve them?

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