How To Train Smart | PT 2 – Understanding Your Goals & Setting The Plan

If you have no formal education on fitness and nutrition, odds are that you are just testing around to see what works for you.

However, if you have a goal in mind, there are specific actions to be taken towards that goal, because, well, training results are predictable!

So let’s have a look at how you can define your goal with training and more importantly, what things you need to do to set the plan right.

Common Training Goals

Going into the gym, there are a couple of types of people:

  1. Really skinny people, trying to grow
  2. People with excess weight, trying to shed it off
  3. Individuals with a normal body composition looking to improve

So let’s have a look at each one of those and what are some actions you can take towards setting your plan in place.

The Hardgainer

As we mentioned, there are many people who are really skinny and try to gain weight by training.

If that’s the case for you, take the following guidelines:

  1. Start training at moderate intensity (6-10 reps with a weight that leaves plenty of repetitions in reserve)
  2. Focus on learning the correct exercise form
  3. Rest at least 2 minutes between sets
  4. Start off with ~5 working sets per muscle group, per week
  5. Increase the number of sets progressively
  6. Allow each muscle group to recover for at least 72 hrs before training it again
  7. Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat!

Doing all of this over at least a year will likely lead you to be, well, not so skinny anymore!

Furthermore, this will set the fundament for more growth, which you can build upon.

The Fluffgainer

Hey, listen, if you’ve been inactive for some time and have enjoyed your favorite foods in big amounts, that’s alright, you’ve just relaxed for a little bit.

Getting back on track and losing the excess weight will be fulfilling and with a bit of training and nutrition, you can do wonders.

Follow these tips!

  1. Train at moderate levels of intensity (a couple of reps shy from failure)
  2. Rest ~2-3 minutes between sets
  3. Do ~10 challenging working sets per muscle group, per week
  4. Allow each muscle group to recover 72-96 hours
  5. Eat in a caloric deficit (most important part)
  6. Consume plenty of protein (~1g per lb of body weight, per day) 
  7. Consume plenty of natural fats (~0.45g per lb of body weight, per day)
  8. Consume some carbs to fuel training

In doing this, you will allow the body to tap into its fat reserves to compensate for the deficit of energy, and you will also create sufficient stimulus for muscle mass retention.

The Normie

If you’re someone who has a normal body composition and is neither fluffy nor skinny and sustains healthy eating habits, well, you have a good foundation!

In case your primary form of training involves weights, define your goal and train accordingly to the guidelines below:

  1. Use the powerlifting rep range mentioned in PT 1 of the article series, for the goal of increasing maximum strength
  2. Use the bodybuilding rep range mentioned in PT 1, for the goal of bulk muscle growth
  3. If you want to be more functional and not just strong and big, combine weight training with activities like climbing, running, hiking, swimming, etc.
  4. Maintain your regular eating habits, but add more food as you become more active!

Generally, people with a normal body composition are well-tuned to their hunger and satiety signals, so no specific diet changes are required.

Final Thoughts

Training smart is about recognizing your goal and setting the correct training stimulus in place.

Most hardgainers should focus around moderate and high intensity training that progressively increases in time.

People who lose weight on the other hand are also prone to eventually losing muscle mass, so training at a moderate level of exertion and intensity will create sufficient stimulus for the retention of that muscle mass, thus helping the person look more toned through their journey.

Whatever your goal may be, do analyze the backend of your workouts and take actions accordingly, if any change is needed!

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