How to Align Your Training with Your Goals

We all love to train hard, and we all love to reach our goals, whether than means adding 10 lbs to our deadlift or shredding down for the summer and sporting a six pack. But to reach those goals, we must have a game plan to get there!

One issue I see in gym goers frequently is having a goal in mind, but ending up spinning their wheels in the gym because they have no road map in their training to get them there. It is important to not only be able to define our goals, but to understand what we need to do to get there. The following are some different examples of goals you may have and some general rules to follow to align your training plan to reach them!

  1. Muscle Gain (Hypertrophy)
  • HEAVY Volume! Focus on reps in the 6-15 range, this includes main movements.
  • Focus on training the muscle rather than training movements, advanced methods including tempo sets and forced reps work perfect here.
  • Add in extra volume through isolation movements. These exercises will help you isolate areas where you want to put on size, or just areas you feel you need more work in general.

Example: chest flies, lateral raises, cable triceps extensions, bicep curls, leg extensions

  1. Leaning Out:

  • Continue to work with heavy weights for a high amount of reps 6-15 reps including on your main movements. This is crucial for you to maintain your muscle. Since you will already be on a controlled calorie diet, your body is at risk for losing muscle. Without the stimulus of heavy weights, the body has no reason to hold onto that density, so continue to train heavy!
  • Increase the calorie burning effect of your workouts by incorporating supersets, giant sets, dropsets and AMRAP sets. I have found that sets of 20 or more reps work very well when trying to lean out also.
  • Leaning out is the time to really prioritize cardio. Throw in 15 minutes of interval training after your workout 3 days per week, as well as steady state 2-3 times per week.
  1. General Strength:
  • Keep main movements in the 3-6 rep range
  • If you train at a gym with specialty equipment, now is the perfect time to incorporate specialty bars and specialty movements into your training.
  • Accumulating volume through accessory movements should still be a priority to hold onto muscle and assist in building your main movements. Keep these movements in the 6-12 rep range.
  • Isolation movements are optional, I like to do them from time to time for more volume if I feel it is needed, but do not do much in terms of increasing overall strength
  1. Maximal Strength
  • This is mostly specific to powerlifters leading up to competition, but can still be applied to anyone who wants to test out their one rep max.
  • Main movements should be in the 1-3 reps range. This will help prime your body to handle maximum loads come competition or max out time.
  • If you are planning on competing, you should be practicing the commands while completing your main movements, “practice how you play”. The same goes for the equipment used, all main work should be done on straight bars within 3-4 weeks of competition. This will help to ensure that you are used to lifting with the equipment that you will be competing with.
  • Accessory movements should be kept to minimal, with most of the training volume going towards the main movements. However, when in the overload stage of peaking, you may use more accessory work to help overload on volume but that is an article for another day.
  • I recommend that minimal time and effort should be spent on isolation movements at this point in your training, but feel free to experiment and see how it works for you!

There you have it, some general guidelines to follow to help you make sure that you are doing the proper training to reach your desired goals!

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