Tag Archive: goal


I know women have goals of getting fit and toned and then turn to the women’s fitness magazines with this month’s “Get In Shape” plan.  And not that these plans are totally worthless, the moves may be great, but most plans tend to start like this:  What you need is a mat, a pair of 3-5 pound dumbbells…. How in the world do they expect you to get toned and strong if you are lifting with a total of 6-10 pounds.  Most babies are born 6 pounds and then if you factor in carrying a car seat, that is way more than 10 pounds.  Do they expect muscles to magically appear?

I do agree that everyone has to start somewhere and progression is key, but I also think that most women are a lot stronger than they think and have the potential of being a lot stronger than they expect. If starting out with all body weight exercises is hard for you, then start there and that does cause muscle to grow, but only so much.  So, what happens when that gets easy? You add more repetitions. Then what happens when that gets too easy? You add more weight.  My professor always used to tell us, “behind every shapely curve in a woman’s body, there is muscle.”  These “shapely curves” he was talking about are the “toned look” most girls are wanting.  So to get toned, women must build muscle.

How do we build muscle mass?  There is a concept in weight training called the SAID principle.  SAID stands for “specific adaptation to imposed demands”.  Translation: Your muscle adapts only to what you put it through.  If you only train your arms to lift 2 pound dumbbells, then your arms are only going to be able to lift 2 lbs or maybe a tiny bit more.  If training with 2 pound dumbbells is honestly hard for you, there is no shame in that.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

The point is, if you do a ton of reps then you are training for endurance.  If you are an endurance athlete, then this training might be for you.  The same principle is why sprinters train the way they do.  They do short bursts of power because that’s what they have to do in a race.  If you are a mom who carries a baby around, then you want to train your muscles for that activity.  If the goal is to build muscle mass and to get toned, then you must challenge the muscles in that way.  The other goal that every woman should have is to move smoother and more functionally.  This takes our focus off of machine only training to doing more day to day movements to make our bodies move more efficiently and will make everyday activities easier.  Eventually picking up groceries out of the trunk and up the stairs will become easier.  Running and walking will be less tiring because you will be training your muscles to work together as they do in everyday life.  Then, adding the extra weight will help you gain the muscle mass to look and feel great.

To build muscle mass, choose a weight or body weight exercise that you can do the exercise for 8-12 repetitions.  This means to choose a weight where you can barely eek out the 12th repetition.  I would suggest doing a weight lifting program that lifts 3 times a week, with a day in between and doing one exercise for each body part.  Start with doing one set for each exercise and as you get into better shape, then add sets for each exercise.  If a woman is still in the bone building years, then doing a few sets of 4-6 repetitions is highly beneficial for building bone mass.  This means she’ll be lifting heavier weights than she did when she was doing 8-12 repetitions.  

Example:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Anterior reaches
  • Bent over rows
  • Cable (or band) standing rows
  • Recline pulls
  • Cable (or band) chest presses
  • Push ups (these can be on the floor or on the wall)
  • Shoulder presses


Just do one set each of 8-12 repetitions in the beginning and add weight when you can do 13 or more in a set.

Goal-Setting for Health and Fitness

After a firm understanding of how to achieve health and fitness is attained, one must then progress to being able to translate that understanding into a plan of action by setting and achieving goals.  The following are a few goal-setting guidelines.

1. The goal must be specific and objective.

There is no way around this.  An ambiguous goal will always stay an ethereal concept that cannot be tangibly reached.  As a result, you can never truly tell if you have achieved it or not.  Your goal must be something that a hundred people can look at and all agree that it has been done.  This means that “get in better shape”, while admirable, is too vague to be of much use.  However, “lose three inches around my waist” is specific and objective.  Every person who sees that you wrote in your journal that your waist was 40 inches in January and now it’s 37 inches in April can see that you have actually lost three inches around your waist.

This also means that in order to understand if you have truly achieved your goal, you must be making some sort of record.  Measuring your waist and writing it down on your calendar/journal/computer will only take a few minutes.  Find a way to be sure that you know what you want to achieve and that you can measure how far you’ve come in an objective manner.

2. The goal must be realistic.

Unfortunately, marketers of many health products tell us that if we don’t lose twenty pounds in the first month, we’re doing something wrong.  The truth of the matter is that according to Mayo Clinic and the AND, a weight loss of one to two pounds a week is optimal.  This is because you have to burn 3,500 calories in order to burn a pound of fat.  That means that in order to lose one pound of fat a week, you have to somehow be burning 500 calories more per day than you eat.  So, if you do the math, that’s 1,000 calories per day if you want to lose two pounds of fat in a week.  If any weight is lost in excess of that, it’s likely to be carbohydrate stores in the body, water weight, or muscle mass.  Because of that, any attempt at weight loss should never exceed two pounds of fat loss per week. Continue reading

The Sin of Yo-Yo Dieting

One of the cardinal sins of health and fitness is yo-yo dieting.  It destroys your health.

Yo-yo dieting is a repeated cycle of weight loss followed by weight gain.  At first, this doesn’t appear all that bad.  So, somebody went from 200lbs to 150lbs and back to 200lbs.  Who cares?  Yeah, they’re back where they started, but at least they’re not worse off now!

Unfortunately, they are worse off now.  The body can be a difficult machine to master.  Since your body is entirely concerned with survival and not very concerned about your figure, it doesn’t get along with the yo-yo dieting concept.  Consider the following example:

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2012 Long-Term Physique Goal

Steve Cook. IFBB Men's Physique Competitor

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what the heck my goals are.  For my next long-term goal, I want to look like this guy:

He’s 6’1”, and he weighed 205lbs with 4% bodyfat when the picture of him was taken that I thought was awesome.  Frankly, I don’t want to be 4% body fat.  I’ve gotten down to 4.8%, and it’s not much fun.  Now, I want to figure out how his lean body mass compares to mine adjusted for our height difference.

First, I need to adjust for his height since I’m only 5’10”.  I need to account for the weight of three extra inches.  From what I’ve read, there’s no clear way to determine exactly how much weight each inch should account for.  I’ve heard anywhere from 5lbs to 10lbs.  I’ll go with the conservative aim of 5lbs.

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“Life by the yard is hard, but life by the inch is a cinch!”

Goal setting is tough.  It’s no wonder we all have so much trouble achieving long-term goals.

For myself, the hardest part of achieving big goals is being able to break them down into small goals.

For example, my new long-term goal is to gain 10 pounds of muscle and lose 3 pounds of fat (I’ll update on how I chose that goal later).  Those of us who have tried gaining muscle have come to find that it’s a fairly difficult endeavor….  Especially when it’s combined with losing fat.

So, I’ve set out my plan of trying to gain one pound of muscle per month.  I’ve done this before while gaining fat with it too, but it will be much harder when trying not to gain fat as well.

The critical issue behind all of this is how I approach this new-found goal of gaining ten pounds of muscle and losing three pounds of fat.  Regardless of how I look at it, it’s a big goal.  Realistically, it will probably take me a little over a year.

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I know losing weight is one of the goals many people possess and most of the time, people like to measure their success by how many pounds they are losing on the scales.  While this may be the easiest and most convenient way to measure success, it may not be the most accurate.  We also live in a “I want this now” kind of generation and so anything we want to achieve, we want to achieve it as fast as possible.  As far as losing fat, this is neither safe or possible.

Let’s look at an example: Jenny who is 170 pounds and her body fat is 40%, goes through a quick weight loss program with a low calorie diet.  By the end of the 6 week program, Jenny is 140 pounds at 30% body fat.  This means before Jenny started the diet, she was 170 pounds with 68 pounds of that being fat.  After she went through the weight loss program she had lost a total of 30 pounds and now weighs 140 pounds with 42 pounds of that being fat.  Overall, she lost a total of 30 pounds and since she started with 68 pounds of fat and now has 42 pounds of fat she lost a total of 26 pounds of fat.  That means the rest of the weight lost was from muscle.  Jenny lost 4 pounds of muscle which also means she is burning about 200 calories less than when she went in since each pound of muscle burns about 50 calories a day just to maintain itself.  At first glance, the program Jenny did might seem good because on the scale it looks like she lost 30 pounds, which she did, but 26 of those pounds were fat and 4 of them were muscle, which slows your metabolism and makes it easier to put on weight. Continue reading