Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Lifer Series Part 8 - I will have specific goals, and specific plans to attain them

"A man without a goal is like a ship without a rudder." Thomas Carlyle

Your training plan

I have written about goal setting and the importance of it's value many times.  I've also written about tempering your goals so that you always have something attainable in sight, and making sure that you have very specific plans to achieve these goals.

These things make up the trinity of planning your training.

Have a specific goal  
Make sure it's not retarded 
Have a very precise plan for achieving it 

Have a specific goal - 

It's still amazing to me, how many questions I get about things like "look at my routine...does it look good?" without an addendum defining what it is the person is trying to accomplish with said routine.

I can't look at a routine and become the Johnny Carson genie, and extract what it is someone is trying to accomplish with it.

no fucking clue why you're doing that routine....

I've also said many times before, routines are routines.  You need to have a philosophy, or code, about your training paradigm.  I massage my routines all the time, but the principles are always the same.

When you sit down the write out a routine, the first thing you should write out, is what it is you are going to try and accomplish with this routine.

"I want a big bench."

This is not a fucking goal.  Or let me write, this is not a SPECIFIC goal.  I don't know what "jacked pipes" means nor do you.

"I want to bench 405."

That's a specific goal.

Now you can sit down and plan around achieving that.  Unless............

Make sure it's not retarded -'re currently benching 155.

I run into this shit quite a bit.  Some guy hit's a PR of 500x5 on the deadlift then says he's going to do 500x20 in a few months.  Might as well say he's going to do 500xeleventy billion in a few months.  That's how big the chasm is between those two things.  I've been chasing 500x20 in the deadlift for a while.  I'm at around 13 or so right now, and I hit 500x5 for the first time MANY years ago.

Just this past week I saw where a guy did a 635 raw squat, and BARELY got it, then wrote how he was going to "crush 675 next week".

Never go full retard.

So if you're benching 155, 405 shouldn't even be on your radar.  Shit, 225 shouldn't even be on it.

How about 165 there, Kaz?  Yeah, that might be a good place to start.

Do you want to know why I think most guys don't like setting those kinds of goals?  The small ones, I mean.  Because it reminds them of what they perceive as their own inferiority.  A guy that is maxing at 155 is generally surrounded in a gym by guys doing 185, 205, 225, 275, 315, etc.  So in order not to feel diminished in his own efforts or abilities, he often sets goals, like "Imma bench 225".

He then goes in and benches multiples times a week, does a ton of arm work, neglects heavy leg and back work, over trains some shit, uses shitty form, then gets hurt, whines....talks about how "I was close to hitting 225 (not really) but then I got hurt".

/war story addition to his failed training combines for massive awfulness and apocalyptic style fail/

The weights never lie.  If you can't bench 225, you can't.  If you aren't within an arms reach of X weight, stop looking past a realistic goal.  Focus should be on making a realistic goal, and crushing that bitch before moving on.  Stop being egocentric with your goal planning because you don't want to own up to your own inferiority in comparison to someone else.  The 155 bench guy doesn't like saying "my goal is to bench 165" because he thinks it makes him sound weak.  He ends up staying weak longer because he plans improperly based on goals that are not realistically achievable at the moment.

The stronger man is always aware of his weaknesses, and plans accordingly to fix them.  He doesn't dilute his blood with delusion or poison his mind with misgivings.  He understands the important of an extra rep, or a measly 5 pounds on the bar.

Who wouldn't want to add 60 pounds to a big lift in a year?  What does that come out to?  5 pounds a month.

Kaz didn't have war stories, he just got shit done

However, you can't understand or grok the importance of that extra 5 pounds, if you are worried about measuring up to what others around you are doing, or are capable of.

In part 5, I made it a point to address not caring about what other guys can do or are doing.  It has no bearing on your own training or goal setting.  Grok that shit, then plan accordingly to what YOU can do.

Have a very precise plan for achieving it - 

When I was in Ohio recently, I training with Jim and we went over his summer goals that he wrote about on his site.  Jim had a very exact and precise plan to make this happen.  He met or exceeded all of his goals.  That's not by accident or luck.  He was smart in how he went about his planning.  Not being overzealous in the early goals, or stupid about the long term ones.  This set him up for sustained and measurable progress on a weekly basis.

Now Jim and I are both 20+ year guys.  We understand the big picture, and have no need to rush things.  We understand the importance of starting slow, hitting little landmarks along the way, and then waking up one day, with many goals in the rear view mirror.

Having realistic and specific goals will allow you to look at a proper time table, and create a proper plan for reaching them.  You need to have a purpose for every single thing you do in the gym.  Nothing should be second guessed.  Know why you are doing everything that you are doing.

Then you're no longer a ship without a rudder.


  1. Well, fucking, said Paul. This is why I love 5-3-1. Every week is a mini goal, and a step along the path. I think any good "routine" focuses on the micro that builds into the macro. Before I bench 225, I have to bench 220.

    Training should be a snowball effect, little additions lead to a massive ball. Take pride in the little additions.

    Keep kicking ass and writing quality stuff man. It is always a refreshing read.

  2. Check it out. Dustin Hoffman, 'Rain Man,' look retarded, act retarded, not retarded. Counted toothpicks, cheated cards. Autistic, sho'. Not retarded. You know Tom Hanks, 'Forrest Gump.' Slow, yes. Retarded, maybe. Braces on his legs. But he charmed the pants off Nixon and won a ping-pong competition. That ain't retarded. Peter Sellers, "Being There." Infantile, yes. Retarded, no. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard. You don't buy that? Ask Sean Penn, 2001, "I Am Sam." Remember? Went full retard, went home empty handed...

  3. Yo I went to see that movie in theater at an early, matinee showing. Some dude was sitting behind me with his kids. I think the oldest might have been 11ish. When those gag commercials came on in the beginning, he freaked out over the booty-sweat/bust-a-nut bar one screaming and trying to tell his kids to look away. He thought they were real commercials, so he stormed over to the nearest employee, screaming at them and asking them sillyness like "How can you endorse this shit!?"


  4. So true...I was fat, weak and out of shape when a friend of mine introduced me to Jim Wendler's 531. I started to follow it religiously in February and have seen phenomenal gains. For example, my bench has gone from being able to do 165x9 up to 235x13.

    Following his model strictly at times has been difficult in terms of not jumping weight quickly to get to 200lbs. I stuck to what I was suppose to do for my major exercises and have consistently made gains. Since I stumbled onto LRB and SLL I have started to sprinkle in some different exercises such as Pause Squats and Klokov Presses and have pushed my gains even further.

    I have lost 35lbs of body weight, never been stronger, and banging has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

  5. Good Post, man.

    And its very true. I've came across some ridiculous goal-setters in the past 5-6 years. I was able to bring my deadlift up to 640lbs from 415 at a bodyweight of 200-210lbs. I mainly did singles and doubles the entire time. Please would ask me how did you do it?? I always respond by saying something like "I walk in the gym, get my mind right, perform at least 10 singles with a chosen weight. Once I managed to pull 10 singles, I added 5lbs. Did it again and again." That's all???? Yes, that's all. Design a plan, do it.

    One thing I was super weak at was benching and always avoided it like the plague, made excuses of why it was pointless. But I got tired of feeling ashamed. Yes, ashamed. The Bench is now one of the golden standards of upper-body strength. So f**k that, it was time to bring my A game.

    I started my benching routine on April 1st. 225lbs. The goal was to work my way up from 10 sets of singles to 10 sets of 10 reps. At the same time work on benching 135 for ultimately 100 reps straight. For 135lbs...I did 10x10, then worked my way up to 5x20, then 4x25, 2x50. Now I just busted out 60 reps yesterday. As for 225lbs, I just knocked of 10 sets of 7 reps. So, this took me almost a half a year to get to this point. Shit does not happen overnight. My main goal in anything was to always get at least 1 rep stronger. If I was able to do an extra rep, I was a happy man. The little numbers is what allow you to make the big numbers.

    The same holds true for any goal you have. So, this was a good post Paul.

  6. Great post. I all but abandoned so called "long term" goals and started simply focusing on my immediate short term goals and my training has never had more focus or intensity.

  7. Great post! Relevant Wendler quote:

    "It’s always been one of my goals to standing press 300 pounds. In the summer of 2008, I did just that. When someone asked me what my next goal was, my response was simple: “305 pounds.” If you bench press 225 pounds and want to get 275, you have to bench 230 first."

  8. Paul, any news on getting SLL on Kindle? I know about EBook, but the EBook of 531 sucked on the Kindle. I am getting ready to buy, but if Kindle is in the works I will wait a bit. Otherwise, I will buy soon. Thanks.

    1. I have the SLL Ebook on my Kindle and it looks fine, you just have to play with the settings. It looks better when you use a PDF reader app on the Ipod touch or Ipad.

  9. "Just this past week I saw where a guy did a 635 raw squat, and BARELY got it, then wrote how he was going to "crush 675 next week".

    Never go full retard."

    I take it this is Pete Rubish?