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Goal Setting For Strength Training

There are so many different training systems and methods available so that you can potentially become overwhelmed and frustrated about what system to follow.

This can lead to many problems such us:

  • Inconsistency
  • Paralysis by analysis

Fortunately, there is a way to get out of frustration and choose the system that is appropriate and right for you.

This way is goal setting.

In this post, I’m going to show you a basic goal setting system.

This goal setting system is going to help you:

  • Gain more clarity about your wants and needs.
  • Make better decisions (e.g. choose a better training plan).
  • Reflect on your progress.
  • Stay motivated.

The purpose of goal setting is to achieve your goals (obviously). As a result, just determining what your goals are is not enough.

A well-developed goal setting system has to be in place that helps you:

  • Choose your strength training goals
  • Develop a training system
  • Take action

#1 – How to Chose Your Strength Training Goals

Finding your goals is simple. You just have to ask yourself:

->What do I want?

Make a list of everything that you want in terms of strength, skills, movement ability, etc.

For example, some of your goals can be:

Specific VS General Goals

Example of a specific goal: 5 OAPU per arm.

Example of a general goal: become stronger.

Both of these are important because to achieve a specific goal you will still have to follow the same principles that apply to a more general goal.

On the contrary, just by following the principles that apply to a general goal will not necessarily help you achieve a specific goal.

For example, if you wanted to achieve 5 OAPU, knowing the movement progressions wouldn’t be enough. You would still have to train with maximal strength parameters.

Goals - MindMap
“General & Specific” Mindmap [2]

You can use both types of goals by using the General & Specific system.

The system is actually quite simple:

  1. Choose a general goal. E.g. Become Stronger
  2. Specify until you have reached a specific goal (like in the mindmap above).

For this system, you will have to use a mindmap, so that you can have a visual representation of both general and specific goals.

How many goals should you have?

You can train having multiple goals without burning yourself out. The only criterion for this to work is that your goals don’t interfere with each other.

Training for both Wheel Rollouts and the L-sit is achievable, but it will take more time than by just focusing on achieving one of them.Also, the more goals you have the more complex your training system will have to be.

For example, a fighter is going to have a more complex training system than a powerlifter. The fighter has to train for multiple objectives such us explosiveness, endurance, speed, etc, while the powerlifter can focus solely on maximal strength training.

Decide What You Will Focus On

After you have made the list and you have gotten to the specific goals, you will have to make a choice.

Sometimes it is difficult to determine what goals you should follow.

For this reason, you should rate your goals based on their importance (to you) on a scale of 0-10. After that choose the ones that have the higher rating.

#2 – How To Develop A Training System

To better understand the goal setting process I am going to make an analogy with traveling.

If you were into a foreign city and you wanted to reach a certain destination, you would need 3 things:

  1. A map
  2. Knowing where your current location is on the map
  3. Knowing where your destination is on the map

If you miss any of these 3, the probability of reaching your destination is very small.

Similarly, to develop a good training system you will need 3 things:

  1. Knowing how your goal fits into the process
  2. A process for your goal
  3. Knowing in which step of the process you are

Researching & Studying

Studying - Image

The first step of developing a good system is to study about your goal.You will have to study both about specific principles and general principles.

For example, if your goal is to increase your squat, you will have to study about basic maximal strength training principles (such as strength training parameters, tempo, progressive loading, etc) and specific principles (such us squat form, breathing, hip and ankle flexibility, etc.).

After your research, you should have some basic idea of what the process looks like and how it is related to your goal (1 & 3).

Assess yourself

The next step is the assessment.

After you have understood what it takes to reach your goal, you will have to find out where you stand in relation to it.

Taking the previous example on squats, with the assessment, you should be able to know if you can squat for the full range of motion or not. In case you can’t complete the full range of motion, you should know what the main issue is.

Furthermore, you should know what weight to start the program with.

Another really important thing that should be taken care of during this step is awareness of your current training routines and lifestyle habits. This awareness is going to help you make the right modifications to the program so that you can follow it consistently.

You should know:

  • What time of the day is most likely for you to train?
  • What time of the day are you currently training?
  • What is your training background?
  • What could potentially distract your training?
  • Can you train more than once per day?
  • etc.

Making the last modifications And The “Perfect” System

In this step make the adaptations needed based on your self-assessment.

The training system, that you have developed, should be realistic and in line with the rest of your lifestyle.

Note: Do not spend too much time “perfecting” your system. Just make the obvious adaptations. Most of the things needed for the improvement will come from training and using the system.

Set A Deadline

The last step of planning is to set a deadline.

Committing to a deadline is really important as it will give a sense of urgency and you will be more motivated to train harder.

To set a good deadline:

  • Project into the future of the training system, that you have developed, with the estimated gains and notice how much time it is going to take to achieve your goal.
  • Then add a month extra.

This is your goal’s deadline.

If you achieve your goal faster than the deadline, then simply choose a new goal.

If you miss the deadline, you have 2 options:

  1. reflect on your progress (why didn’t you achieve your goal?), make the necessary adjustments, set a new deadline and keep training or
  2. reflect on your progress and readjust your goal

#6 – Execute

Goal Setting Process Diagram

The most important part of the execution is consistency.

No matter how effective your system is without consistency you will not be able to meet your goals.

Some ways to help you with consistency are:

During the execution, it is a good habit to continue studying about strength training in general and see if you can make further improvements in your current system.

Example of the process

Here is an example about how to put the process into use.

Step 1: We are going to use as the main goal achieving 5 consecutive One Arm push ups with both arms.

Step 2.1: Here you are going to make your research.

For our example, I am going to use my tutorial [How To Do One Arm Push Ups – Complete Guide].

Step 2.2: Here you are going to assess yourself based on the tutorial above.

First, you are going to find your current strength.

Based on the tutorial you should find a progression with which you can easily perform the progression standard, which is 3×4/side or 5×5/side depending on the type of progression.

When you are testing out the progressions, you can easily become aware if you lack strength in any of the main muscle areas that are involved with the movement and you can add some of the complementary exercises to deal with that.

After that, you should take a look at your current training routine and see how you can implement the training plan suggestions.

Step 2.3: Here you are going to make the last modifications and design the system you are going to follow.

Step 2.4: Here you are going to set the deadline.

If you are starting out with the elevated OAPU from a height of 1 meter (3.3 feet) and in every workout you manage to progress successfully for 5cm (2 inches), you are going to need 21 training sessions.

With “sample A” you can have 9 training sessions per month (4 weeks) plus the deload. So you need 2 months and one week to complete 21 sessions.

Then you add one more month of training (without the deload), which means another 12 training sessions. In summary, you have 3 months (12 weeks) and 2 weeks.

Based on the above, if you were to start on 22/12/14, your deadline would be on 29/3/15.

Final thoughts

This whole process might seem like a lot of work, and it is. However, after you have gone throught the process once, everything becomes simpler and easier to follow and it takes far less time to complete the steps.

If you have a good trainer, then the only thing that you need to worry about are your goals and some awareness of your lifestyle. The coach will figure the rest of the process out.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below.

~Nick

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[1] Photos: On Target, researching.

[2] This mindmap was created using www.mindmup.com

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