Stepping into the gym is like arriving at a track meet: there are numerous competitors, and something is always happening. While sprints, distance events, and hurdles are run on the track, other events take place in the field. Athletes complete in tests to jump the highest, vault their bodies over a very high bar, throw heavy objects the farthest, and more. I like to think of field events as tests to see who would’ve made the best knight, launching themselves over castle walls and jumping over lava pits to save someone from a fire-breathing dragon.
People basically have one of three roles at a track meet. (1) You can be a coach, aiming to train others to improve their craft. At a gym, these people are typically your trainers and employees (1). You can be a spectator, watching others work hard as you walk around pretending to lift (2), or you can be an athlete (3).
In this post, anyone who wants to get healthy through exercise is considered an athlete. My goal is to help you determine what event you’re in and where to find the starting line so you can effectively compete.
KNOWING YOUR EVENT
If we don’t know what event we’re running, our ability to train effectively is limited. If you’re competing in an all-out sprint, you want to train for speed. Your event is probably the 100 or 200-meter dash. At the meet, you will register accordingly and show up at the time and place that those races start. If you’re doing a distance run, you will train for endurance and show up at the starting line of the mile or two-mile run. Can you imagine training for a short sprint, then finding yourself competing in the mile? If you don’t train for the event, you will struggle to perform to your fullest potential.
In the gym, identify your “race” so you know what exercises to do, where to start, and where to finish. Knowing your event gives your training focus and helps you stay on course. You can then determine your pace and establish realistic goals to monitor your progress.
FINDING YOUR EVENT & STARTING LINE
The keys to both determining your event and finding your starting line? Goals. A professional 100-meter dash runner has very specific goals that may look something like this: When the gun goes off, they will be the first person out of the blocks (goal 1), they will beat their personal best time of ___________ (goal 2), they will cross the finish line first (goal 3). If the runner doesn’t know when the event is starting, where the starting line is located, or where the race ends, do you think they’ll achieve their goals?
Your goal is your “event.” After you set the goal, you can identify your starting line and finish line. In this track meet, you strategize how to get from point A to point B and implement practical steps to get there.
Want to cross the finish line in style, achieving the goal or goals you set out to accomplish? When setting your goal(s), follow these steps:
STEP 1: DETERMINE YOUR GOAL
What is it? Be specific here. Examples:
A) “I will lose 5 pounds.”
B) “I will squat _____ pounds for one repetition.”
C) “I will stop eating taffy.”
STEP 2: ESTABLISH A BASELINE
Where are you now? Knowing this will allow you to measure your progress. Examples:
A) If your goal is to lose weight, how much do you currently weigh? You may also choose to do measurements of waist, thighs, biceps, etc. to help monitor progress.
B) If your goal is to squat “X” pounds for one repetition, what is your maximum squat now? What weight can you currently squat for one repetition?
C) If your goal is to stop eating taffy by March, how much taffy do you eat now? Knowing where you’re starting will help you create a path to the finish. If you eat five bars a week, reduce it to four, then reduce it to three, and so forth until you reach your goal.
STEP 3: DETERMINE A TIME FRAME FOR YOUR GOAL
When will you start? By what date do you want to accomplish your goal?
STEP 4: WRITE YOUR GOAL USING THE PREVIOUS ELEMENTS
A) “I currently weigh _____ pounds and will lose 5 pounds by March 15th.”
B) “My current one-rep squat max is ______ pounds. I will increase it to ______ pounds by June 1, 2018.”
C) “I currently eat five bars of taffy a week, and will stop eating taffy all together by April 5, 2018. The path towards my goal starts now.”
If you’re starting at some point in the near future, write down the specific start date to help hold yourself accountable. The examples above are for goals starting right now.
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So far, you’ve selected your event (goal), found your starting line (baseline), and know your finish line (time frame). Now, you can determine a focused path from start to finish, which brings us to step five.
STEP 5: WRITE FIVE THINGS YOU WILL DO TO HELP ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL
Example Goal: My current one-rep squat max is ______ pounds, and I will increase it to ______ pounds by June 1, 2018.
+ I will squat heavy two days a week.
+ I will incorporate different types of training to strengthen my squat including box squats and pause-rep squats.
+ I will cook chicken at the beginning of the week to make sure I have a protein-rich dinner Monday – Friday.
+ I will consume at least ______ grams of protein per day.
+ I will read one new article or study each week regarding squat technique and performance in order to help me improve.
READY TO RACE
Now, you are ready to race! Be sure to set realistic goals for yourself. Goals help you hold yourself accountable and maintain focus during your training. If you set achievable goals, you are preparing yourself for success. As you reach a goal, re-evaluate and set another. During the process, you can reassess your list from Step 5 and make necessary changes. Even runners may adjust or tweak their strategy during a lengthy race.
In the gym, as in life, we are all running a race. Know your destination and keep your eyes on the goal. Don’t let distraction steer you off course. Although the journey might not be easy, the results will be worth it.
With God, all things are possible.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Lift Smart. Love Hard. Stay Positive.