Realistic Weight Loss Muscle Building Goals

Realistic Weight Loss Muscle Building Goals

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Setting a realistic goal increases the chance you actually accomplish it.

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You're on the right track by setting goals -- realistic goals. Setting unattainable goals will only set you up for failure, while realistic fitness goals may give you the extra boost you need to stay motivated for long-term success. What's realistic to one person isn't necessarily realistic for another, so you need to first assess your current physical condition to realistically set weight loss and muscle building goals.

Two Pounds per Week Max

You've probably seen TV infomercials for weight loss pills and exercise equipment promising to help you lose 10 pounds in a week, or similar claims. It's unsafe, unrealistic and not a recipe for long-term weight loss. A realistic weight loss goal is to lose one to two pounds per week. This is the recommended rate of weight loss offered by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. To get an idea of what losing one pound per week is like, you'd have to eliminate about 500 calories per day from your diet and/or burn 500 calories per day through exercise to shed one pound per week. It's really not that difficult, and to say that losing an average of 52 pounds per year isn't significant, you'd have to get your head checked.

Track Strength Gains

Setting muscle-building goals is a bit trickier compared to weight loss goals because it's more difficult to track them. The easiest method may be to track your strength gains for the weight training exercises you use. A realistic goal for something like the bench press is to increase your one-rep max by three to five pounds per week. The goal for an exercise that is more isolated, such as bicep curls, should be slightly less, maybe one to three pounds per week. Keep in mind that there will come a time where you start to approach your body's limit when it comes to building muscle and your gains will begin to slow. When that time comes, it's important to refigure your goals accordingly.

Knowing Your Body

Some people tend to build muscle and strength more quickly than others. There are several reasons for this, including differences in hormone production and concentration of fast-twitch muscle fibers. If you have trouble building muscle, don't set a goal of increasing your bench press by five pounds per week because that may be unattainable. Instead, set modest goals that are more conducive to long-term success. Likewise, if losing weight is something you've tried and failed at several times before, then set a goal to lose half a pound per week. By knowing how your body reacts to exercise and weight loss, you can set much more realistic fitness goals.

Short and Long

Don't set just short- or long-term goals -- do both. A short-term goal helps keep you motivated as you work your way up to your long-term goals. An example using weight loss is to have a short-term goal of losing one pound per week and a long-term goal of losing 10 inches off your waistline. Your long-term goals are designed to help you achieve some sort of finality or outcome. In other words, it's a reward for all of your hard work. Achieving short-term goals helps to keep you motivated and dedicated to achieving your ultimate, long-term goal(s). Make sure to adjust your goals as you complete them or if situations arise where it's necessary to change them.