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Setting Realistic Expectations For Your Fitness (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this article I covered the three step-process for understanding what is realistic in terms of setting our goals. In part two the focus switches from the realistic setting of the goals to how we can actually achieve them. It is what occurs after we have set our realistic targets that then becomes important. Once we have fixed our sights on a target, what comes next? What must you do to lose that 5kg of body fat? What do you need to do to shave 0.5seconds of your 60m sprint?

Below are a couple of key principles that should contribute to success no matter what the goal:

1. The Kaizen Principle

Kaizen is a Japanese word which essentially describes the concept of small, incremental, continual progress. The idea is that by making tiny gains consistently, over time you will be capable of achieving what once may have seemed way out of reach. The problem all too often is that we want massive changes, and we want them now! But with any great success in life, we must commit for the long haul. As you may have heard many times, there is no such thing as an “overnight success”. With any great athlete, doctor, business owner, Mum, or Dad, there any many unseen hours that go into mastering the craft.

If your goal is to achieve 10 pull ups but right now you are at 1, then don’t focus on the number 10, focus on the number 2. Only once you have achieved 2, can you set your sights to three. The famous strength coach Charles Poliquin used the kaizen principle to explain the concept of “micro-loading” – using load increases of as little as half a pound to ensure continual strength gains. Remember that expecting instant change will only make the mind susceptible to defeat.

2. Find someone who has coached others to achieve what you desire

In order for you to make a real attempt at your decided realistic goal, it is important that you have all the necessary support in place. You have two options; you can take the long-haul route, doing your own research into the methodology of how others have achieved the result you want. You can watch Youtube videos and read articles about how others have achieved the goal you desire. You can learn their methods and approach; the way they track progress and evaluate.

Alternatively, you can take a more fast-track approach if you are willing to invest money over your time. The fast-track approach involves working with a coach who has already done the long hard hours of research and experimentation and can work with you to use their methodology for success. Either way, it is important to have a model for success and ask the right questions. As mentioned earlier, if your goal is to reach 10 pull ups, then know the exercise progressions to get there, know how long you can expect before adding an extra pull up, know how many times you can train per week without over-training.

Bearing the above in mind, here is a process which can be used as a goal setting process:

  • Choose a goal

  • Broadly determine whether that goal may be realistic

  • Select a metric to track progress

  • Start moving towards the goal using whatever you have available

  • Observe what happens

  • Revise and refine progress metrics. If you are unable to determine a realistic rate of achievement for the goal, try to progress by the minimum measurable increment every two weeks.

  • Revise and refine the progress as needed (do you need more guidance, a different coach or system?)

  • Keep moving towards the goal

  • Observe what happens

  • Revisit whether the goal is realistic

It is always useful to have a process to follow, but it is critical to understand that these are simply guidelines. Whilst the above are useful guidelines to follow you must also remember that every human being is different. Just because you are following the same methods as another individual who achieved your goal, those same methods might not be the most effective for you. Your best friend Joe might be able to get away with doing pull up work every day, but you see much greater success training the movement just twice per week. Jane might be able to lose 5kg in 10 weeks comfortably, but Jill is struggling to get to 3kg.

If you need help on your journey, whether that be setting realistic targets or building a game plan to achieve them, then send an email to or jump on a free call with me here:

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