Who has never started the year with new promises and new plans to keep? As the saying goes, new year, new life!
It is quite normal for us to start the year with new goals.
However, before we start to apply everything in the wrong way, the idea of this article is to teach how to become more responsible and to have some metrics that help us to evaluate the goals we intend to fulfill.
Of the most common goals that come to me, I highlight the following:
- Want to lose 5 kg of body weight
- Want to learn to count macros and calories
- Wanting to improve my cardiovascular capacity
- Want bigger arms
Now, how can we turn goals into training goals?
- I want to lose 5 kg = I will add a calorie deficit to my diet and possibly add some cardiovascular training.
- I want bigger arms = it probably makes sense to prioritize training and arm training volume.
One of the most well-known forms of defining objectives, in the most diverse areas of work, is through the SMART methodology.
SMART stands for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive”, which in Portuguese means:
Specific – Specify that I want to have bigger arms instead of saying “I want to get bigger”, so that it will be easier for us to work and focus on the specific goal.
The same applies when you want to lose fat, or maintain, or even gain some muscle mass, instead of saying "I want to stay Fit".
Measurable – For example, saying “I want to gain 2 cm of arm”, instead of mentioning “I want bigger arms”, or saying “I want to lose 5 kg” instead of just saying “I want to lose weight”.
What is actually measurable is controllable.
Attainable – For example, when you want to “gain 2 cm of arms in the next 12 weeks”, or when you want to “lose 5 kg in the next 12 weeks”. All of this is feasible if the work is oriented in that direction.
On the other hand, if you want to gain 2 cm of arms in 2 weeks, or lose 20 kg in 6 weeks, they will no longer be as attainable goals.
Realistic – Very similar to the previous point.
Time-sensitive – These are goals without a date that usually become less demanding and people tend not to meet. Using Parkinson's Law: "the work expands in order to fill the time available for its accomplishment".
In this sense, it is essential to force a temporal space.
Taking the example used previously, we must aim to “want to lose 5 kg in the next 12 weeks”, instead of intending to “lose 5 kg sometime this year”.
After understanding how to define our objectives in detail, we must prioritize them and, consequently, detail them in sub-blocks.
Using the previous example – “I want to lose 5 kg in 12 weeks”, it is possible to break it down as follows:
- Lose 2.5 kg in the first 4 weeks
- Lose 1.5 kg between weeks 5 and 8
- Lose 1 kg between weeks 9 and 12
Your training and your diet will certainly be complementary.
Although the example focuses on diet planning and weight loss progress, what should you do about the rest?
It will certainly make sense to have something adjusted. However, it is important to try not to plan objectives and goals that end simultaneously and that can interfere with each other.
For example, avoid thinking that "I want to lose 5 kg, gain 10 kg of muscle mass, increase 50 kg in my squat and run 2 half marathons".
If so, what training to do?
In our example, we must pay attention to the following:
- The representation of our maximum strength requires hypertrophy, technique and neurological adaptations
- Hypertrophy is efficiently achieved mainly in the total training volume
- Neurological adaptations are mainly due to intensity (% 1RM)
The training volume and intensity are “almost” inversely proportional, so it is necessary to pay attention and avoid the well-known “overtraining”.
We need to find a balance and try to progress through progressive overload over time.
Then, I present you a guide that can serve as an example of how you can prepare a training adapted to you, based on the following aspects:
Volume – Between 40 to 70 repetitions per muscle group in a training session, or 80-210 repetitions per muscle group in a week.
It will make sense to start with the lower limit of repetitions and rise as close as possible to the maximum limit during the first month, while we have the initial calorie deficit and we still have some acceptable energy levels to complete the workout.
During the following workouts, you can slightly reduce the volume, focusing on trying to maintain the intensity.
Intensity: In our example for hypertrophy and strength, during the weight loss process, we should focus most of our time on training in the range of 6-12 repetitions (about 2/3 of the volume), with the remaining volume divided by low repetitions (<6) and higher repetitions (> 12).
Frequency. Each muscle group should be trained 2-3 times a week.
* Based on indications by Eric Helms.
Another aspect to take into account is the importance of focusing on performing some cardio and a lot of muscle training, which leads to an increase in Flow G (G-Flux).
There are immense studies that prove that in a phase of weight loss, spending 200 extra calories per day and having a food deficit of 300 calories, will have an effect on body composition higher than a food deficit of 500 calories, without extra energy expenditure.
In short, and after this long text, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- What's the point?
- What methods are being used at this time to achieve this goal?
- How fast is my progress towards the goal? (e.g. weight lost per week)
- What could benefit and optimize the process? (more hours of rest, better nutrition, etc.)
- How will I assess that something is actually improving effectiveness during the process?
- How long is it acceptable to see noticeable changes? (typically 4-16 weeks to be visible and measurable enough)
- At the end of the time applied … did it go as expected? Did it go better or worse than expected? It's because?
If you are satisfied with the results, then keep what has been done.
If something went below expectations, start from point 1 and apply the lessons learned during the process.
Rational thinking takes time to be internalized, but by becoming responsible, rational and objective in our analysis, we are able to learn from everything we do.
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We are at the beginning of the year, great time to set goals and follow them to the end!
Article written by Team Sik Nutrition