How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

So you've started weight training or fitness work (or you're planning to) and you know that to get results you need to have a clear goal. The only thing is, you don't really know how to go about it. Then there's the fact that you also want to make sure you do it well. This article tells you all about setting your weight training goal.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

Most people start weight training and fitness work because they want to get in shape or change the way they look, either because they're not happy with their appearance or they want to look even better. Weight training can also help you raise your performance levels in the sports you play.

Whatever your aims, though, if you really want to make weight training work for you, there is one thing you absolutely need to do: set a clear goal and stick to it.
From the reasons why you should set a weight training goal, to how to identify one and keep to it, we take you through all the steps involved in achieving your fitness targets.

Why set a weight training goal?

When you start out on a project, whether it's weight training or anything else, it's vital to set an objective. If you don't, you run the risk of losing your way. The less focused you are with your plans, the harder it is to stick at it and achieve what you really want.

And when it comes to weight training, if you're a beginner it can be hard to choose a goal for the simple reason that you want to do everything and change everything. It's one of the most common mistakes: wanting to change too many things at once and all in a very short space of time. In the vast majority of cases, you're doomed to fail. Why? Because weight training is a little bit like running a marathon. You have to take a long-term view.
The goal is not to have abs in four weeks and then let them go in the next 48. To achieve your objectives, you sometimes have to think years in advance rather than weeks or months. It might sound less dreamy than the latest fitness programme doing the rounds, but it's a fact. 

Step 1: Choose a simple/unique target

Now that you know the kind of target you need to choose to succeed and stick at it, I'm going to help you set that target out.

Off the top of your head, what is the one thing you'd like to change most about yourself? Have you thought of something? That's great!

Now ask yourself why. Why do you want to change? Why do you want to start training? Here are a few examples: 

You want to look after yourself

You've had a knee injury and you want to strengthen your thighs.
You want to recover from or prevent health problems such as diabetes or being overweight.
You want to give yourself a lift by doing some exercise.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

You want to build up your muscle mass.

You want to have a stronger physique.
You want to build up your muscles in a specific area, such as your lower back.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

You want to lose weight

You want to slim down.
You want to lose your belly and feel more comfortable in your clothes.
You want to tone up and show off your muscles more.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

You want to get better at the sport you play

You want to be stronger.
You want to be more powerful.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

We're not going to lie. The ideal thing would be to do all four steps at the same time. If you're going to do it, you might as well go for it, right? But even though all four objectives are linked in the long term, it's essential to go one objective at a time. That one objective must be your focus, your top priority. Without it, it'll be very hard to create a training programme and to work out a diet.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps

How to identify your objective

Write down on a Post-it, a notepad or in your notes on your phone what it is that you want to change about yourself, what complexes you might have, and what you might be able to achieve if you're disciplined and work at it. If you lose motivation at any stage, go back to that objective, visualise it and try to think about why you set it. 

Step 2:Measure your goal

To pursue your goal, it's important to be able to quantify it so that you can measure it. You need to come up with a method for measuring your results. There are a number of ways you can do this.
If your goal is about losing weight or bulking up, you can weigh yourself and use that as a reference point. Weighing yourself isn't always very representative of what you do when you're weight training, though. But if you can use your scales to measure body fat percentage and muscle mass percentage, then it will allow you to check if your weight loss is linked to a loss of fat and not to a loss of fluids or muscle. Alternatively, if you want to bulk up, it can help you achieve the right ratio of muscle gain to fat gain.

Using "before and after" photos can also be a good way of comparing any changes in your physique. You need to make sure you adopt the same pose, though, and make sure the lighting is the same and that you're even wearing the same clothes because this can all make a big difference.
Here's an example: On day 1 you take a photo of yourself from behind, with your pelvis in a neutral position, wearing low-waisted pants and in dim light.
For your next photo a month later, you arch your pelvis and push your backside out, making it look as if you've been working on your glutes. You're also wearing high-waisted pants that make your waist look narrower and your glutes bigger, while the bright lighting conceals your cellulite. It might look great but the reality is that you haven't really changed much, apart from your ability to pose for the camera ^^.

Another thing you can do is measure yourself with a tape.
Note down your measurements (chest, waist, hips, thighs, arms, etc) and compare them month after month.

You can also measure your performances from session to session (e.g. the number of kgs you can bench press or how fast you can sprint).

Always keep a figure in mind for your goal. It can be an indicator of your progress and can help you visualise the before and after.

How to set your weight training goal in four easy steps