"I just want to tone up” – probably the vaguest answer anyone who is seeking fitness advice can give.
It’s also probably the most frustrating answer someone who’s being asked advice can hear when asking someone what their goal is. Why? Because it doesn’t actually tell us anything.
-Drop to single digit body fat % by my trip to the beach
-Gain 10lb of muscle before the next football season starts
-Be able to bench 225lb for 15 reps by the next “pump and run” race (no, I'm not talking about Sunday morning, they’re a great way to even out the pure-runners and the weight lifters in a single competition).
These are goals. Why? They’re measurable. They have a time frame. There are solid markers towards achieving them. Having a vague goal makes for vague results.
The general healthy rule of thumb is this: 2lb/week. That is the most someone should lose or gain per week without worrying too much about losing muscle with the fat or gaining too much fat with the muscle. Now go back and look at your goal: does it fit this rule? Yes: Awesome, now get to work. No? Reevaluate and make a realistically healthy goal for yourself. If you’re cutting and you find yourself losing 4-5lb/week, make sure you’re eating enough (see the last post)! If you’re gaining more than 2lb/week….well, you’ll notice a more-than-normal jiggle factor. As with every rule, there are exceptions. If you’re just starting off, you’ll notice a sharper rate than that. As long as you’re eating enough, take the kick start loss/gain for granted!
My original goal was to drop from 260+ to sub 200. I never put a time frame on it. I didn’t take into account my body fat percentage. I was extremely uneducated as to the healthy ways of losing weight. Like I said before, I started off by eating way too little and doing way too much cardio. I didn’t know better. I’m scared to even think about how much muscle I lost during that time.
Now, three weeks into my annual bulk cycle, I'm at 192lb from 185. The goal: get back to 200 – but by adding lean muscle – by the end of the year. 8lbs in 6 weeks, ~1.33lbs a week. Measurable. At the beginning of the year, it’ll be my goal to cut any fat that came on with the added mass (even under ideal bulking situations, there’s at least a 1:3 fat:muscle gain ratio).
Lose weight, gain weight, lose weight. No.
Lose fat, gain muscle, lose fat. Yes.
Goals evolve as you learn. They’ll change as you achieve what you thought your limitations were and surpass them. When you hit your original goal, don’t stop, reevaluate what you want. Push yourself beyond what you thought you could do 6 months ago.
Get faster. Get stronger.