Managing Long-Term Fitness Goals: An Analysis


Fitness Goals


I was watching a video on YouTube recently, which you can find here, which really closely resembled my findings over the past few years. The video’s overall message was that generally speaking, your fitness goals are probably going to take you a lot longer than you expect them to.


People tend to look at certain achievements that others have made, and base their own goals off them. Although this is a perfectly natural phenomenon, this was probably a better idea many years ago, before the days of YouTube, and in particular, Instagram.


With these two new platforms (among many others I’m sure I’m missing) our standards are permanently skewed. We are seeing ridiculous achievements, and the clever marketing behind every single one is that “you can do this too…if you part with your money for this product or service”.


It could well be partly true, but it’s a little misleading. Hard work is what will get you there, but I won’t delve into that today.


Fitness Goals – Muscle Gain


Anyway, whether or not these goals are achievable, they tend to take a lot longer than we expect. The more inexperienced we are, the more true this is. Noob gains do not last forever. And noobs forget (or never knew in the first place), that noob gains are temporary, and gains after this short phase are much slower, and non-linear.


Jason made the point that it’s very rare to see a guy go from a 200 pound bench to a 300 pound bench in one fell swoop. Very rare. Instead, he may make linear progress during his noob gains phase from 170 to 225, then have a long period of slower, undulating training up to 250, then he may need to cut down as he gained too much fat, then he gets up to 285 the following year, needs to cut again etc. etc.


This is all normal, and very common. With two caveats:


  1. Drug use
  2. Heavy, prolonged bulking


Obviously, if you’re willing to use drugs, this will speed up the process of you hitting your 300 bench press goal. If you’re also willing to go up to 20-25% body fat and stay there for a while, gaining about 50-60 pounds of body weight or so, you will also get there faster.


The vast majority of people are not willing to go this far to gain muscle at a faster rate though. Really, this game is about fitness. The two tactics above really, are anti-fitness. They’re not good for your health. Most people would prefer to hit their fitness goals in a more sustainable fashion, myself included.


But this will likely take longer than you think.


Jason’s advice is to break these down into bite-sized chunks, which I’ve mentioned before. Specifically, set shorter term goals to focus on one aspect of your overall goal, and focus on that for quite a while. Then you can shift gears once you’ve made significant progress towards that one thing.


For example, if your goal is to be 180 pounds at 8% body fat, then you may want to spend at least 1-2 years in a gaining phase before you look at lowering the body fat. You may need to do multiple phases of bulking and cutting, not just one cycle.


Fitness Goals – Fat Loss


Slow fat loss is more sustainable than fast fat loss. Now, the caveat here, is that you can do rapid cuts, followed by extended periods of maintenance to allow your body to adjust. But, really, that’s just a weird variation of slower fat loss when you look at the overall timelines involved.


What most people do, is lose a bunch of weight during the first 3-5 weeks of their diet, then by week 4 or 5, it’s: “oh shit…oh bollocks I have no energy….oh crap I hate myself…oh no I have no strength in the gym” and they soon start to rub those two brain cells together, and at some point, it clicks that if they keep going and lower their calories any further, they’re completely fucked.


So, they need to have a diet break. Already. Disaster.


Whereas, if you take it slower, none of this will happen. Instead of hitting this wall at 15% body fat, you don’t hit it until much later at about 10%. Far better.


Again though, if your fitness goal is to cut down to 8% body fat, and you’re currently 18%, it will probably take much longer than you think. You will almost always need a period of maintenance if you’re starting from that far out, as Dr. Mike Israetel mentioned in the Bulking Debate video.


Another thing is that the human brain tends to think that its current state will last forever. For example, if you’re at 18% body fat and have been bulking for over 6 months and you’re sick of food, you think: “oh I hate food, I’ll be able to drop a shit-load of weight and get to 8% body fat in no time!”


No, no, no, no, no, no!


Doesn’t work like that. Your body soon starts putting up barriers against that, don’t be a fool. You will soon start to be hungry again. You will likely face a very tall, very strong wall at 12% body fat or so (or earlier), and you’ll need periods of maintenance to push through it again.


These fitness goals always take longer than your irrational brain assumes they will. Plan accordingly.


If you enjoyed this article and are motivated to lose weight, feel free to check out my coaching services here. Thanks, I appreciate it.

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