Table of Contents
How many people do you really see pushing themselves in the gym?
Are there many guys and girls who hit the exit doors with sweat pouring down their face and shaky legs, or folks who can hardly stand up following their leg workouts?
If your gym’s anything like most commercial gyms, then the above is probably a seldom seen sight.
And that’s the main issue with not having goals. We’ve all been there – struggling for motivation, no real end goal in mind and nothing to aim for can leave you feeling like you’re spinning your wheels and not really training for anything or making progress.
This is why goals are so important. But how do you decide on your goals?
The bets way is to test yourself in certain disciplines, set yourself some sort of target, then re-test later down the line.
Body Composition Tests
Weight is the most basic of all fitness tests, but it can be a useful one.
The most common goal for the average gym-goer is weight loss. While most people don’t necessarily mean they want to lose weight (more on this later) weighing yourself is an ultra-simple way to see how you’re progressing.
Weigh yourself once a week (weight fluctuates too much day to day to bother doing it any more often than weekly), first thing in the morning and before you've had anything to eat.
Set yourself a goal of averaging a 1 to 1.5 weight loss each week over the course of 8 weeks. By aiming for an average loss over a prolonged period of time, you won’t beat yourself up if you do fall short of your target at one weigh in.
The only downside to measuring weight is that it’s not all that accurate. When losing fat, your weight should certainly go down, but total body weight is also affected by the foods you've eaten, your bowel and bladder movements, the amount of carbohydrate stored in your muscles and many other factors. This leads on to…
2. Body Fat
Measuring your body fat percentage is a far more accurate, reliable way of monitoring body composition.
When people say they want to lose weight, they actually mean they want to lose fat. After all, you wouldn't be happy if your weight dropped, but you didn't lose fat and looked exactly the same, would you?
First up is a set of body fat monitoring scales – these are useful, but aren't overly reliable. Instead, purchase a set of body fat calipers.
These pinch the skin on certain sections of your body (usually tricep, upper-back, abdominal and thigh) and give a reading for each area. Add up the combined skin fold totals, then use the chart that comes with the calipers to find your total body fat percent. They might look tricky to use, but are actually remarkably easy. You may want to get a partner to help though.