I love setting goals. Giving us a target to aim for is the very first step of visualizing ourselves at the end of the journey. It allows us to see how much progress we’ve made, and how much farther we need to go to complete our journey.
Whether it’s running a marathon, summiting Dog Mountain, or walking up the 3 flights of stairs unwinded, each long-term goal is equally worthy of your time.
But what about setting goals that push us even farther? What if you have bigger dreams, like running in the next Iron Man. Maybe you see yourself competing in a bodybuilding competition, or just getting down to 10% body fat. How hard could it be?
Far be it from me to tell you what you cannot achieve. If you can set your mind to it, you can and will become the next Iron Man or Woman. But what about the other side of getting lean? We see movie stars and bodybuilders who have the 6-pack abs, the enormous muscles, and the extremely low levels of body fat percentages. What does it really take to get to that level of fitness?
What I want to do is make sure you’re aware of what you’re getting yourself into before going down that long road, and determine if you even want to go down that road to begin with. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience getting to a low body fat percentage.
During my time as a Personal Trainer, I’ve seen a lot of colleagues go through the difficult process of getting ready for a bodybuilding championship. Keep in mind that this is with personal trainers who live and dream personal fitness. As they get closer to the big day, the competitor must make their fitness the most important part of their daily lives. Diets become extremely restricted, with a big focus on high protein and no excess carbohydrates.
Instead of just visiting the gym when it’s convenient, bodybuilders must be prepared to dedicate a lot of time to exercise. Resistance training and cardio become daily activities, making sure the body is working to its highest potential.
Time dedicated to working on their body starts to cut into their social life. Hobbies and personal time will start to get pushed aside for more time that could be spent at the gym. Socializing at events where food is involved becomes more difficult, as dietary needs take a higher priority.
Let me tell you that this is from personal experience. During my time getting ready for a show, the time I normally spend socializing with friends and family was profoundly affected. The time I wasn’t working was almost entirely dedicated to prepping for the show. Eating wasn’t something I could enjoy anymore; it was entirely dedicated to making sure I had enough proteins and nutrients, and absolutely nothing in excess.
Take a look at this diagram from Precise Nutrition, which outlines what you can expect when you start to reach the upper limit of personal fitness. The more fit you become, the more time it requires to maintain your physical standard. The lower body fat percentage you are aiming for, the less margin for error.
Why am I telling you this? As a personal trainer, aren’t I supposed to be keeping it positive? Why tell you about the negative parts of body building?
As a personal trainer, I want you to know what it’s going to take to attain your goals, good and bad. I don’t want to scare you away from attaining any of your goals. You might be willing to go on a severely restricted diet. You might be willing to put in the extra time and extra repetitions required. And I can tell you right now that when you’re walking on stage at the next Bodybuilding competition, or when you’re crossing the finish line at the next Iron Man Triathalon, I will be cheering the loudest at the sidelines. What I want to do is make sure you know exactly what’s required.
Keep you eyes open for my next blog, where I’ll write about setting healthy goals, and how even small steps can pave the way for big changes.