Do you have training goals? I know my pursuit of CMS is very public, and something I have chosen to document. But I also have other goals to hit during my training. It helps to keep me focused and interested. And I love reaching (and then exceeding) them.
Without getting into the details of micro and meso-cycles, most of my training plans have undulations in them, leading to higher reps or weight, or both. In fact, that is necessary over time if you want to progress. Your body will adapt to whatever you ask of it. I’m not saying any of the rubbish such as “needing to confuse the body” or “shock the body” by swapping cardio to weights or vice versa. Or not deadlifting any more. Or any such similarly daft ideas. But you do need to increase the volume lifted (either in weight or reps or both) over time for any given lift to ensure progression.
While I enjoy training (a lifting session before work does seem to make the day flow better), I also like to feel a sense of accomplishment. And getting out of bed and going to the gym is not an accomplishment 😉 It’s through doing a variety of things, and progressing through them, that I’ve learnt what I enjoy doing most. I’ve developed skills. I’ve experienced success and failure. And I am a better person and athlete for it! The process is as important as the end goal. But having that goal helps keep me focused to carry out the process. And what tends to happen is that once we reach a goal, we realise we have a new goal. Further along the route, possibly down a side road. So we keep going 🙂
If you see exercise as something you will stop when you reach a specific goal weight (or body fat percentage), or when you’ve run your marathon, etc. you will rapidly discover that the goal escapes you again. You will (unless you are very diligent with nutrition) put on body fat. You will lose your running fitness. Sure there is no need to be “competition ready” at all times, but consider the process an ongoing thing, and you are somewhere along that path at all times. It’s a lifestyle. Do find something you enjoy doing though. Otherwise, you will resent it. And then not do it. And once you enjoy it you will find the desire to keep challenging yourself. Training goals!!!
Level Up Your Mindset: Goal-Attainment as a Badass Quest is a great summary of how to challenge yourself with sensible goals. How to build up gradually and how it is part of the journey. And small wins all count. The fact that I can deadlift heavier raw (no wraps or belt) now ever despite it being less than my one rep max lift is a win. I’m improving grip strength and working my existing posterior chain even if not maximal.
Some examples of my training goals in the current phase (eight weeks in the gym doing compound lifts and accessory work):
- Ensuring I squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press each week
- Getting a new one rep max in bench pressing as it’s an area I’ve neglected in the past
- Improving my overhead press, ensuring they are strict presses while increasing weight on the bar
General training goals:
- Lifting Monday/Wednesday/Friday
- Three HIIT cardio sessions at any time it fits
All of these are on track. I can tick workouts off each week and get achievement there. I plan my weights for each workout after the last one, based on a basic spreadsheet of planned incremental additions, and my progression. Each time I add more weight I am increasing my training volume. And for bodyweight workouts (like knee raise) then adding reps increases volume. I get to tick these off for most things each workout. Sometimes there is a plateau or a missed rep, but overall there I’m getting small wins. A combination of both reps and weight improving means I workout harder. And I’m pretty much achieving that volume increase in the same time each training session, so rest periods are not having to increase to compensate. Another win!
I do have other things I’d like to achieve in my training, but these are not currently goals because they are too vague. Or I’m not working on them with a timeline in mind. I have to prioritise my CMS goal right now, which means letting others remain on the sidelines for a while. I will add in my pull-up improvements (for example) when I’m less focused on specific strength items, general endurance, and kettlebell technique.
What are your training goals and how do you keep on track?