In life and training, it is wise to have a clear, direct target in mind. The ability to visualise your goal is key to paving the way to reaching it. In terms of weight loss and weight gain targets, it is not wise to set unrealistic targets as this sets you up to fail e.g. expecting to lose 10kg in a week is not realistic, achievable, nor healthy for many. A more appropriate and sustainable target would be 0.5-1.5kg of weight loss a week, which is likely to be achieved and thus promote motivation and enthusiasm. However, in terms of visualisation and motivation, picturing yourself with the physique you desire can serve to direct your training, dieting, supplementing and focus, helping you to reach your target!
I refer you to the words of the physical phenomenon that was......Bruce Lee:
“A goal is not always meant to be reached; it often serves simply as something to aim at.”
Seeing yourself in the long term helps to inspire and motivate, whilst in the short term, and in the build up to reaching your target, the British Dietetic Association (2012) recommend setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time frame.
S- Ensure that you set yourself a focused goal which is direct and clear in your mind. E.g. for the first month of developing lean muscle mass, aim to consume approximately 1.5 grams protein per kg bodyweight via your diet and protein shakes. Ensure you provide your muscles with adequate rest periods during the week by adopting a specific training split e.g. biceps and triceps on Monday, legs on Tuesday, shoulders on Weds etc. You could aim to add 0.5- 1cm of muscle to your bicep and triceps in the first 1-2 months of training, ensuring you remain realistic with your target!
M- If something can’t be measured, how do you gauge if you’re doing it right, or indeed if it’s even working!? You could use your waist or mid-upper arm (bicep) circumference to gauge weight loss or muscle gain respectively, whilst gauging your weight loss progress by weighing yourself weekly or bi-weekly. Keep a record of your progress, this helps to motivate or identify an area for improvement.
A- Ever had an unrealistic target set for you in the work place? Think back to the feeling of dismay, panic and disappointment at the acceptance that this target is never likely to be achieved with your current level of experience or ability. We set ourselves up for failure every time we set an unrealistic goal. When you set a ‘specific’ goal, don’t base it on what others around you are doing, set it relative to what you feel is appropriate to you. Adding approximately 0.5-1cm of muscle to your bicep and triceps, whilst achieving 2-4kg of lean muscle mass in the first 1-2 months of your mass and toning mission is not unreasonable. The likelihood is you will gain some lean mass and add some inches to your arms, but if you do not meet your target, you probably won’t have fallen all that short....therefore you won’t suffer from that catastrophic drop in confidence, that accompanies the feeling of outright failure!
R- A once ‘achievable’ target can easily be made unachievable through, for example, the application of an unrealistic time frame. A realistic project may well push people to achieve their goals, but will not commit them to inevitable failure or breaking point. Setting yourself the goal of consuming 3000kcal per day in your pursuit of fat free, lean muscle mass is completely ‘achievable’, however it may not be ‘realistic’ to expect a 70kg male to consume this via food alone. Therefore the application of a structured maltadextrin
could feasibly transform this into a ‘realistic’ dietary goal!
T- Above, we have discussed how setting an achievable goal can be made to be somewhat unrealistic via the application of an impractical, and thus unrealistic time frame. Ensure that the time you have allocated to achieving your 0.5-1kg weight loss, or 0.5-1cm increase in muscle mass is adequate. Allowing 1 week to gain 1cm of lean muscle mass is ‘specific’ and ‘measurable’, but probably not ‘achievable’, ‘realistic’ or obtainable within the allotted time frame. By setting a realistic time frame, you inspire commitment and dedication, and encourage yourself to act in order to meet the goal in time!