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How to Set & Achieve Big Goals. Train to Get Lean, Fit & Strong.

Updated on January 7, 2015
Marathon runner
Marathon runner | Source

Fitness Goals

Losing weight, building muscle, exercising for a specific amount of time each day and exercising specific muscles to get the look the person wants are common goals. The person exercises to change their body. Those types of goals don't work very well for most people. Big specific physical goals like running 10 miles, biking 35 miles or doing 10 handstand push ups are better.

They are better because the focus is in on improving your body so you can accomplish a specific task. Set a big goal that you can only achieve by getting in better shape. Instead of focusing on changing your body focus on doing an activity that would require the body you want.

To bike 35 miles I need to be lean, have muscular legs and good abs. To go on a long canoe trip I need a muscular upper body for paddling and I need strong legs so I can carry the canoe. Muscles are for pulling and pushing. Fat is for storing energy. Think of the body you want then match it with an activity or a bunch of activities. Wanting to change your body is not enough. You need to give it a good reason to change.

Body Transformation Through Training

Why are you exercising? Are you trying to lose fat or build muscle? Exercising does not always change your body. Training means you are trying to improve your ability to do something. You set a goal. Then you work at improving your ability to do a task so you can eventually achieve your goal. If it is a physical goal then your body changes while you continue to improve.

Boxer | Source

Big goals lead to big changes. Train for a specific event with a set date and time like a boxer preparing for a big fight or a runner preparing for a big race. Compete with yourself and try to do better every time. You might not notice a difference if you improve a little but you should if you improve a lot. Training gets results. Significantly increase your strength, endurance, speed or balance and you will not be the same person. You can transform your body by training. The key is to greatly exceed your current physical limits. For example doubling the distance you can run than doubling it again.

Just Putting in Time

Doing the same thing day after day is not going to give you different results. It is not going to cause you to burn more calories or build more muscle. You can run for 2 hours a day and not change your body. I know because I was running for 2 hours a day on my elliptical trainer. I went from training so I could run 14 miles to just running 14 miles. When I stopped training I stopped improving so I stopped changing my body. If you are just putting in time then you are maintaining your body, not improving it.

Leaner or Bigger


Some activities burn a lot of calories and are easier to do if you are lean. Other activities burn fewer calories and are easier to do if you are big and bulky. Your body tries to adapt to your routine. You have probably seen lean people biking, running, kayaking, playing volleyball and swimming. As their body adapts to the activity they become lean and muscular. The activity shapes the body. Start going for long bike rides once a week and you are going to look like you go for long bike rides once a week. Your calf muscles will get bigger, your abs will become firm and you will be skinny.

Weight lifters adapt to lifting heavy weights while not moving. As their body adapts they get big because they benefit from being big and bulky. People that do body weight exercise benefit from being leaner. So body weight exercise are good if you want big muscles while still being lean. Gymnasts are usually strong and lean.

The way I look changes as I get better at doing an exercise or when I change my routine. My appearance reflects the exercises I have been doing and the exercises I have not been doing. As part of your training you should maintain a healthy diet that will help you achieve your goal. When I am training I usually need to eat more food.

Volleyball player
Volleyball player | Source

Photos and Videos

What happens when you search for pictures of people biking long distances, boxing, kayaking, playing volleyball etc? You see what they look like as a result of doing that activity. Olympic athletes are a good example. Try searching for pictures of 'Olympic volleyball' or "Olympic swimming" and you will see what I mean. It is easy to find pictures of people that have a body similar to the one you want. You can also find videos of people that spent a lot of time training.

Seeing people that have been training or videos of people exercising can help you pick the right event or exercise to train for and it can inspire you to take action.

Achieving Your Fitness Goal

For most fitness goals you just need to practice doing the best you can until you eventually achieve your goal. It is not easy but it is simple. Do the exercise at least once a week. If you can't do the exercise do a similar exercise that will help with your training. If you are exercising a lot and not improving exercise less. You can't improve unless you give your muscles a chance to recover. By doing the exercise and paying attention to your exercise performance you should be able to tell if you are exercising enough to lose fat or build muscle. For most exercises it is possible to improve every week until you are really good at it.

Even if you improve a little every day it can still take months to reach a big fitness related goal. While you are waiting for a kettle to boil it seems like it will never boil. Even the microwave seems to take a really long time when you are waiting for it. When you wait it can seem like the thing you are waiting for will never happen. Don't wait for the results you want or you will probably quit before you get them. Focus on the present.

Weightlifter | Source

Unrealistic Physical Goals

Having realistic physical goals is not that important. You don't need to accomplish the end goal to benefit from the training. The main thing is that you give your body a reason to change. You could train for a boxing match that will never happen or a race that you probably will not enter. When setting goals it is better to have goals that are impossible or nearly impossible than ones that you know you can easily achieve. If you don't need to improve very much to accomplish your goal then your body is not going to change very much.


Canoe trip
Volleyball tournement
Handstand push ups
Tennis tournement
One arm pull ups
Bike ride
Boxing match
Lifting heavy weights
Swimming laps
Mastering a yoga pose

Get into the Best Shape of Your Life

When I started training to bike 37 miles to a beach I got into the best shape of my life. Training gives me better results than just exercising for a specific amount of time. You could quickly get in better shape by training to do things you can't do now. Instead of small goals that don't make much of a difference set big goals that will change your body.

If you are just trying to lose weight you may not want to train because training involves building muscle. You are increasing your strength, endurance, speed or balance. Maybe you just want to look better. Training to move beyond your current physical limitations is a very good way to lose fat if you are training to do a cardio exercise. To prove it to yourself give it a try. Take a picture of yourself, set a big goal, train for a month and then see how you look and feel.


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