I just recently happened upon my old training log from 2009 when I first started lifting weights. I was maybe a month in to training, and stated my goals boldly on the Starting Strength forums. I laughed as I read it:
Squat 250lb (Long term goal)
Bench Press 225
Bodyweight 225 (Long term goal)
Well, it may have taken some time, but I surpassed these years ago. I used to think 225 was HUGE, now i’m about 260 pounds! My current squat is 585, bench 390, and deadlift 650.
A far cry from my “long term” goals of yesterday.
I achieved them and then set new ones and kept going!
Here’s how we suggest you go about developing your goals so that you can achieve them and feel good about your progress.
SHORT vs LONG TERM GOALS
You should always have SHORT and LONG TERM goals set. That way, you make small victories along the way to your eventual goals which may be months or even years down the road.
Short term: Short term goals should be something you can expect to achieve within the next one to three months of training. These are the ones that will keep you getting in the gym and hitting your numbers with the weights / calories etc. As you accomplish these goals, you’ll feel accomplished and can then set new short term goals which will eventually lead in to your long term ones.
Calculate what is realistic – if you’re increasing your working weights by 5 pounds each week, where can you expect to be in one month? About 20 pounds up!
For instance, if your max deadlift is 295 pounds, a good short-term goal would be to hit 315 in one month. 3 plates is a visual marker that looks and feels awesome the first time you get it off the ground.
Trying to lose body weight? Calculate things the same way. Can you achieve one pound of weight loss per week? Make weekly goals to lose at minimum 1 pound!
Long term: Long term goals are where you envision yourself in your ideal state. This, too, will shift, just as my final body weight goal of 225 now seems tiny to me. But back when I weighed 175, I thought i’d be MASSIVE! Pick a time frame between 6 months and 1 year and make those your long term goals. Body weight, strength, “have a six pack” etc. The less subjective and more concrete your goals are, the better, but whatever motivates you is what you should use!
Think about what it will feel like when you hit these goals. Will you be more confident? Successful? Happy? Imagine what that will feel like – then set a plan! Remember, your short term goals are the steps on the path that will lead you to your long term goals!
TRACK YOUR GOALS
This is THE MOST important part of your goal setting! You need to be able to SEE your progress any time you want, or you will get discouraged and not know how close you really are!
I suggest you write your goals and progress toward them on a piece of paper, not on your phone. When they’re on a note file on your phone, you have to manually open the file to see them which you’ll never do. If you put them on a piece of paper and magnet them to the fridge, you’ll see them EVERY DAY!
BE PREPARED FOR SETBACKS
You very likely won’t reach your goals linearly. Bad training sessions happen. Unplanned cheat meals or travel weeks happen. But remember, as long as your goals are clearly established, and you have a PLAN for achieving them, you WILL eventually get there!
Need help setting up a training plan with clearly defined goals? Check out our private coaching options here!