Setting goals is crucial to establish what you are trying to achieve before starting your fitness journey. It may sound pretty obvious, but setting unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment and giving up altogether.
“The most important thing is that you have a vision and have a goal because without that vision and goal you will drift around and you won’t end up anywhere” – Arnold Schwarzenegger.
We Specialise in fat loss, transformations and hypertrophy/building muscle, all of which have different approaches in both nutrition and training. There are a few things to consider when deciding which strategy may be best for you, such as your actual starting point, commitment levels and time frame. When setting a goal, we would advise based on what you could achieve in your initial 8-12 week phase and then we would reassess our approach after that.
A physical transformation is meant to be when an individual doesn’t just lose body fat; they get “ripped” (think fitness magazine cover model).
With a lot of people, motivation comes and goes in waves as life priorities are ever-changing. To achieve a transformation in 8-12 weeks, someone’s physical starting point needs to be at a certain level to achieve a ripped, muscular physique in such a short time. 8-12 weeks is not enough time to both build substantial muscle and lose body fat because burning fat and building muscle have two very different nutrition setups. We must also accept that if a significant calorie deficit is needed to get lean quickly, then there will be some muscle lost during the process. So building muscle may be a more appropriate goal for the first phase of training if you don’t have a lot of muscle to begin with.
With a short time frame to achieve your goal, there is not much room for straying from your nutrition plan. It can be easier to stick with the same foods that you know help you perform well in the gym and satisfy your palate and appetite. You can “bite down” and tough it out when you see a quick change happening and an end in sight, but if your goal requires a longer time frame then a more flexible approach to nutrition may be necessary.
In general, a transformation client would be able and willing to lift weights 3-4 times a week, focusing on aesthetics. As the goal is a more muscular looking physique and not just to lose weight, merely burning calories with cardio or aerobic based classes probably wouldn’t get the desired result. However, cardio protocols may be needed to supplement your weight training.
So to recap, we would approach programming for a client with a transformation protocol if:
- The goal is a high priority
- Willing to lift weights a minimum of 3x a week
- Able to track food or follow a structured plan
- The client understands and accepts the results may not be sustainable
- Willing to sacrifice and say “no” to things they may enjoy
- The client has to be starting with the right amount of muscle
The principles to burning fat are the same to that of a transformation, in that you must consistently be in a calorie deficit and aim to keep protein high.
If your goal requires longer than 12 weeks to achieve, a less aggressive nutrition protocol will serve you better long term as too much restriction, and not enough variety can cause binge eating and an unhealthy relationship with food.
With a slower, less aggressive nutrition protocol, the visible difference won’t be as noticeable. You will still require a calculated approach but will also need patience. The key is to trust the process and accept the reality that progress won’t always be linear; the human body doesn’t work like a maths formula.
For a transformation, a high percentage of your time training should consist of lifting weights. In contrast, if fat loss is your main priority, then your energy (calorie) expenditure must be more than your consumption. So you can make up some of your training with activities other than weightlifting, such as classes or cardio.
Fat loss may be an appropriate goal if the client:
- is not able to commit to the gym/weight lifting at least 3x a week
- has other commitments that may interfere with a training and nutrition plan
- values a sustainable result higher than the short term result
- is starting with a high amount of body fat
- accepts they may lose some muscle (although when leaner you may have a more muscular look)
Building muscle is the hardest to achieve. Building muscle takes a lot of patience and hard work and arguably takes the longest amount of time to see any substantial difference.
To build muscle you must be in a calorie surplus, but you shouldn’t just eat as much as possible as you want to ensure the weight you are putting on is primarily muscle, however, a little fat gain can happen.
If hypertrophy is your goal, you must be willing to consistently work hard outside of your comfort zone and make sure you get adequate rest for your body to recover and repair.
Most of our clients are busy city professionals and need to be programmed accordingly. Even with a clear goal to build muscle, for most individuals, we still use complete body workouts. Full-body workouts allow us to target each muscle more frequently across the week.
To build muscle you:-
- Can track food
- Can accept that they may put on a little body fat
- Must be willing to lift weights 3-4x a week
- Will train hard
No result comes easy. Our advice is to pick a goal, work hard and stick to the plan and trust the process.