Chapter One - I Don't Set Goals!

Personal Training Calgary Goal Setting

When a client enters a gym for potentially the first time ever, they come to us with a purpose, or do they? 


What brings them to the gym? 


What do they want from us? 


What do YOU want from your gym? 


What takes YOU there?


Uh oh…I’m going to ask the dreaded question….


What are your goals?


I used to really not like this question myself (still have to work at it) as it involves self-evaluation, insight and a plan.


Plans have to be followed, adhered to and there is always that fear of failure.


I also don’t want to look internally at myself, that involves judgment and criticism! Isn’t the world full of enough of that? 


Why do I need to subject myself to more scrutiny?


Well, if we don’t challenge ourselves then we don’t change ourselves!


So let’s ask the question again. What are your goals?


Weight Loss or Fat Loss?


Gain Strength?


Gain Muscle Mass?


Train for a Race?

Weight Loss or Fat Loss


This is a tough one as there are so many misconceptions or ideas about this.  

When it comes to goal setting we need to decide are we looking to lose weight or loss body fat.


The results are completely different.


Weight loss reflects a number – the number on the scale. 

This can be accomplished in a variety of healthy and not so healthy ways. 


Low Carb? 


Keto Diet? 


Fasted Cardio? 


Steady state cardio? 


All of these are effective for changing the number on the scale but are they really necessary? 


I guess that all depends on if you only care about the number on the scale. 


For some, the number needs to change as a matter of health risk, but for most of us, what we are actually looking for is fat loss. 


The number on the scale does not reflect your body composition (how toned or lean you look) – the lean muscle mass that gives what we all desire - sex appeal! 


Ya Baby!


Fat Loss


When we lose fat, we are decreasing the subcutaneous layer of flab that covers up our muscles. 


Now, don’t we all want to show some sexy shoulders or a popping bicep? Fat loss changes the numbers on the tape measure, how our body measures. 


It changes the shape of our physique and makes us stronger. 


How does it make us stronger? 


Fat loss is directly related to strength training and the more muscle we build the more calories we burn while at rest. 


Yahoo! I love sitting at my computer writing blogs knowing that I am still burning calories!


So when it comes to setting goals when you come into the gym – really decide with your trainer whether you are looking for a number on a scale (and really, what is the perfect number and why) or rather changing your composition (lose fat, gain muscle and the way your clothes look and your strength). 


After that, it’s the execution of your goals, aka, the plan.



Gain Strength or Muscle Mass?


Hmmmm aren’t they the same thing? 


If you gain muscle mass aren’t you naturally gaining strength? 


Or can you gain strength without getting bigger with more muscle mass?




They are 2 completely different goals but will have an impact on each other in some way.  


As you grow in size you will naturally get stronger. 


However, to get stronger does not mean you will get bigger. 


Look at myself and Debbie Hoffort – are we considered BIG??? 


Think – Bigger in size (high rep range: 10-12 reps )– body builder. 


Think strength (lower rep range: 3-5 reps) – Power Lifter 


Granted that all of these rep ranges put the muscles under maximum stress and are in combination with other exercises appropriately. 


So most new comers to strength training are in the 12-15 rep range to master the movement and imprint the motor function with lighter weights that are not stressing the muscles to the max.  


So don’t fear newbies! 


We are not going to double your muscle mass but we will give you the tools to move better, learn the compound exercises and program going forward. 


“Making a muscle grow requires a slightly altered approach than it does to make a muscle stronger. We have to remember that training a muscle strictly for the cosmetic – namely, to make it larger, means the emphasis shouldn’t be so closely focused on your performance, or weight lifted, rather it should be on the training effect your workouts have on your muscles.”
"When it comes to adding strength, the most effective way would come through making the “base” of your exercise routine consist of larger movements. The compound style exercises like squatting, deadlifting and bench pressing are great choices to allow the body to recruit many muscle fibers in one shot. That total body exertion, especially under heavy loads, encourages greater hormone release and trains fast twitch fibers to be more responsive and fire harder. These are keys to gaining strength. Here’s where things differ. Because of the large impact on the hormones, the heavy lifting, and the compound movements, generally speaking, strength training will have a greater impact on the central nervous system. It really takes a beating with repeated maximal efforts, so rest time between sets, and between training days as a whole needs to be closely monitored so as to avoid adverse effects."
- Lee Boyce, CPT is a strength coach based in Toronto, ON. A former Kinesiology Major, Lee competed as a sprinter and long jumper at the National level. His work has been featured in many major magazines including Men's Health, Musclemag, TNATION, and also on national television.


So in simple terms, it takes a very specific program to accomplish very specific goals!


Wait there’s that word again - goals


Guess that means we need to set goals, as without them we have no program or path to follow. 


Yep, no getting around the first step!


Personal Training Calgary Vagus Fitness

Train for a Race


Want to run your first 10km? Half marathon? Spartan Race? 


All of these require a goal as well. Is it just for completion? Fun? Competitive?


All of these require a goal setting session.


You don’t start training for a half marathon without having an idea of what the end might look like!


Make a plan, timeline and find a qualified expert to help you with this process. It’s not an easy one – support is needed. You need to be pushed. It will be challenging but so worth it!


Like I said at the beginning, goal setting has always been something that I struggle with. I’m usually happy to get to the end of the day with success, but we all need something to aspire to, so where is your beginning that leads to your success?


Calgary Personal Training Vagus Fitness

Join the journey at Vagus Fitness today and see what you are capable of!