Q: How do you set your muscle-building goals?
A: When you’re setting goals, only two time frames matter: 10 years and 90 days.
Your first step is figuring out where you want to be 10 years from now. How do you look exactly? How big are you? How ripped are you? How is your health? How much can you lift? What is the status of your joints and hormones? Get clear numbers on each of those goals, or at least the ones that matter to you. Your 10-year goal will be fixed and unchanging.
Once you figure out where you want to be in 10 years, the only other time frame that matters is the next 90 days, which is your second step. Specifically, what do you need to do during these 90 days to start moving toward your 10-year goal. Really, nothing in between matters and is only a waste of time and energy.
This is by far the most effective goal setting process because it forces you to focus on what matters now and not get lost in the minutia of activity. Once you get a clear picture of your long-term goal, you’ll recognize the importance of addressing the most important things right away.
Let’s use my personal muscle-building goals as an example. My goal is to be a ripped 230-pound male at 10 percent bodyfat—that is, 207 pounds of lean mass and 23 pounds of fat—and I’m currently 220 pounds at 15 percent bodyfat, or 187 pounds of lean mass and 33 pounds of fat. Therefore, I need to create a plan that helps me gain 23 pounds of muscle and lose 10 pounds of fat. See how crystal clear it is?
Considering that I’ve been training for 10 years, gaining 23 pounds of drug-free muscle is going to be a big challenge, but remember, I have 10 years in which to do it, so I’m looking at gaining 2.3 pounds of lean mass every year for the next decade. I also need to lose one pound of fat per year. Losing 10 pounds of fat is a piece of cake, so I’m not even going to worry about that right now.
The number-one question to ask myself is, “What does my life need to look like over the next 90 days to move toward 2.3 pounds of new lean mass?” Then I ask, “What will prevent me from achieving that goal?”
The answer to that one, at least for me, involves food: I don’t know how to cook delicious muscle-building meals confidently and in bulk. With that in mind I recently hired one of Toronto’s top gourmet chefs to give me private cooking lessons. I brought her my current diet and asked her to give it a makeover while still meeting my calorie needs and macronutrient requirements.
It was funny because when she saw my typical bodybuilding diet, she said, “This is what you eat? I feel sorry for you!” And she was right. I was following a bland, tasteless bodybuilding diet, which resulted in my missing meals too often because I had no desire to eat my boring food—and that slowed my muscle gains.
So to overcome my number-one obstacle to achieving my goals, I’m learning how to cook meals that are healthful, tasty and easy to prepare while still hitting my calorie and macro needs. To keep gaining muscle, I’m going to need to increase my calories, and if I don’t know my way around the kitchen, I’ll constantly struggle to have the fuel I need to achieve my 10-year goal.
So my 90-day goal has become learning how to cook the recipes my personal chef taught me. That’s all I’m focused on these days—following the recipes, becoming confident in the kitchen and planning “chef days,” when I prepare most of my food for a few days in advance.
Now, if I wasn’t clear on my 10-year goal, I’d never have prioritized the need to learn how to cook, and my gains would move more slowler than an iceberg.
That’s the lesson of the 90-day and 10-year goal-setting process. Once you know where you want to be in 10 years, your 90-day goal becomes clear and then becomes a stepping-stone to your next 90-day goal, and so forth.
So here’s your homework. Write down where you want your body to be 10 years from now. Once you get a clear picture with some quantifiable numbers, ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I need to do these next 90 days to move in that direction?” Now make it happen.
Editor’s note: Vince Del Monte packed on an amazing 40 pounds of muscle in 24 weeks. He’s know as “the Skinny Guy Savior” and has a number of courses to help you go from twig to big, including No Nonsense Muscle Building. For more information or to sign up for his free-tips newsletter, visit www.VinceDelMonteFitness.com. IM