Understanding Your Goals & Setting The Plan
If you have no formal education on fitness and nutrition, the odds are that you are just testing around to see what works for you.
However, if you have a goal in mind, specific actions should be taken towards that goal, because training results can be predictable!
So let’s take a look at how you can define your goal with training and, more importantly, what things you need to do to set the plan right.
Common Training Goals
Going into the gym, there are typical types of people:
- Skinny people, trying to grow muscles.
- People with excess weight, trying to shed it off.
- Individuals with a regular body composition looking to improve the way they look.
So let’s have a look at each of those, and if you fit one of the descriptions, what are some actions you can take towards setting your plan in place.
As we mentioned, a lot of people are skinny and try to gain weight by training.
If that’s the case for you, take the following guidelines:
- Start training at moderate intensity (6-10 reps with a weight that leaves plenty of repetitions in reserve).
- Focus on learning the correct exercise form.
- Rest at least 2 minutes between sets.
- Start with ~5 working sets per muscle group, per week.
- Increase the number of sets progressively.
- Allow each muscle group to recover for at least 72 hrs before training it again.
- Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat! But sensibly.
This list will set the fundamentals for more growth, which you can build upon.
Hey, listen, if you’ve been inactive for some time and have enjoyed your favourite foods in large amounts, that’s alright. You’ve just relaxed for a little bit.
Getting back on track and losing excess fat will be fulfilling, and with a bit of training and nutrition, you can do wonders. But it would be best if you focused on losing fat, not weight. They are not the same. Losing weight may include losing lean muscle tissue, which should never be your goal, no matter how old you are.
Follow these tips!
- Train at moderate levels of intensity (a couple of reps shy from failure).
- Rest ~2-3 minutes between sets.
- Do ~10 challenging working sets per muscle group, per week.
- Allow each muscle group to recover 72-96 hours.
- Eat in a caloric deficit (the most critical part).
- Consume plenty of protein (~1-2g per kg of body weight, per day).
- Consume plenty of natural fats (~10% of total daily energy per day).
- Consume some carbs to fuel training.
Doing this will allow the body to tap into its fat reserves to compensate for the deficit of energy, and you will also create sufficient stimulus for muscle mass retention.
The Average Joe
If you’re someone who has a typical body composition and is neither fluffy nor skinny, and sustains healthy eating habits, well, you have a good foundation!
In case your primary form of training involves weights, define your goal and train accordingly to the guidelines below:
- Use the powerlifting rep range mentioned in PT 1 of the article series for the goal of increasing maximum strength.
- Use the bodybuilding rep range mentioned in PT 1 for the goal of bulk muscle growth.
- If you want to be more functional and not big and bulky, combine weight training with activities like climbing, running, hiking, swimming, etc.
- Maintain your regular eating habits, but add more food as you become more active!
Generally, people with typical body composition are well-tuned to their hunger and satiety signals, so no specific dietary changes are required.
Training smart is about recognising your goal and setting the correct training stimulus in place.
Most hardgainers should focus on moderate and high-intensity training that progressively increases in time.
On the other hand, people who lose weight can be prone to losing muscle mass, so training at a moderate level of exertion and intensity will create sufficient stimulus for the retention of that muscle mass, thus helping the person look more toned through their journey.
Whatever your goal may be, do analyse the backend of your workouts and take action accordingly if any change is needed!