Beginner Series: Goal Setting

Setting goals for yourself is one of those things that seems so obvious, but often gets overlooked. Usually you know what your general goals are before you get into the gym: get stronger, feel better, be healthier, etc. But once you are in the gym and starting to lift, it’s time to focus your goals and get more specific. It is important to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Timely. Let’s think about an example. You are in the gym with the goal of getting stronger. That could mean many different things! And if we stop our goal setting there, it is tough to know where to start or how to measure success. Let’s try applying the SMART principles to getting stronger.

First we need to make our goal more specific. The easiest way to do this is to choose some specific lifts that we’ll use to measure our strength. This could be any number of lifts, and some of the more common ones would be squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, and variations of those lifts. We’ll use squat for our example.

Now that we have our specific lift, we need to set a measurable goal. Building strength is great for this because we are constantly measuring the weight on the bar. So we can set the goal of having more weight on the bar for our working sets. This way, when we have more weight on the bar, we know we’ve hit our goal. It is easily measurable!

Making goals Attainable and Realistic are in some ways the same thing. We need to make sure we are setting goals that we know we can actually achieve, and that we are LIKELY to achieve. For instance, we can say that we want to add 10lbs to our squat working sets, rather than 50lbs or 100lbs.

Finally, we need to make sure that the goals we set early in our lifting career are not so far off that it is easy to get distracted or lose momentum. In our example, saying that we want to add 10lbs to our squats in the next 2 months is a good example of that (and fits with the other principles of SMART as well).

So there you have it, we’ve taken “get stronger” and turned it into “add 10lbs to my squat working sets in the next 2 months.” Once you hit that goal, it’s time to set a new one!

Picking a program and setting goals are closely related, and the program you are using can affect the goals you choose to set for yourself. We’ll cover choosing a program in the next post.

-Nigel, Kizen Coach

Who is Nigel?

Nigel is a coach who has been competing in powerlifting since 2012 and started directing meets in 2017. Nigel began working as a personal trainer in 2013, was a part of the Ascendant Athletics team with Omar and Silent Mike from 2015-2016, and has managed the group coaching for Kizen Training since 2017. Through this work and coaching private clients, Nigel has worked with many lifters of all skill levels and from diverse athletic backgrounds. His best lifts in competition are a 661lb/300kg squat in sleeves, a 451lb/205kg bench, and a 639lb/295kg deadlift.

Instagram: captain.planet

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