How to Train For Any Fitness Goal

All fitness goals usually fall into 2 categories. Aesthetic and/or performance. You can definitely get more specific than this, but these are the starting point.

For example, If you want to lose fat or gain muscle, these would be aesthetic goals. If you want to get stronger or more athletic, these would be performance based goals.

You could reach any of these goals without a drastically different training approach.Why?

Because reaching ANY goal does not require a drastically different training approach. It only requires changing which training qualities you are focusing on.

Confused? Read on!

What Are Training Qualities

All training can be broken down into essential qualities. Movement, strength, power, and endurance.

These qualities can be used to define the goal of  any exercise you perform.

Some quick and simple definitions

  1. Movement – The ability to perform basic bodyweight patterns (squat, hinge, lunge, push, pull, etc)
  2. Strength – The ability to load (add weight) or produce force in those patterns
  3. Endurance – The ability to repeat those patterns for a given period of time
  4. Power – The ability to produce force quickly in those patterns

An important note, these qualities also have a hierarchy as well.

Movement is a precursor to strength and endurance.
Strength is a precursor to power.

To see more on this hierarchy, check out my 7 essential training principles.

This does not mean you can’t train all these qualities simultaneously. It simply means that some qualities can become a bottleneck in your training progress.

Factors Outside of Training

Outside of these training qualities, the only other factors that contribute to your fitness goals are diet and recovery.

Diet simply refers to how you are supporting your training with proper daily nutrition.

Recovery refers to how you’re supporting your training with proper rest and reduction of additional stressors (mental, social, etc).

These qualities can sometimes be more important to your fitness goals than the training itself.

Training For Your Goal

All this brings us to an exceptionally important point…

Reaching ANY fitness goal is a matter of focusing on the right training qualities while managing factors outside of training.

If it sounds simple, that’s because it kinda is. You may have been a SOLD a different message. That there is some magical type of training that’s ultra-specific to your goal. Odds are that’s bullshit.

Here are a couple of examples of what your training focus would be to achieve a couple of the general goals I mentioned. The qualities are organized in order of importance.

Fitness Goal Focus Chart

Let’s briefly go over this sheet.

Fat Loss

  1. Diet – Getting your diet in check is often the most important factor in aesthetic goals
  2. Movement – You need to establish some decent quality of movement before you can incorporate strength and endurance work
  3. Strength – Your strength training would have more focus on higher rep ranges to build more muscle.
  4. Endurance – You’ll need to establish entry-level endurance
  5. Power – You’ll need to establish entry-level power output

Muscle Gain

  1. Movement – You need to establish some decent quality of movement before you can incorporate strength and endurance work
  2. Strength – Your strength training would have more focus on higher rep ranges to build more muscle.
  3. Diet – You will need to get enough quality calories to support the gain in muscle
  4. Power – You’ll need to establish entry-level power output
  5. Endurance – You’ll need to establish entry-level endurance

Get Strong

  1. Movement – You need to establish a decent quality of movement before incorporating heavier strength work
  2. Strength – Your strength training would focus on lower rep ranges to build max strength
  3. Power – You would need to establish decent power output to assist in max strength training
  4. Diet – You’ll need to keep your diet manageable
  5. Endurance – You’ll need to establish entry-level endurance

All goals require some level of each training quality. The difference between training for a specific goal is simply a matter of what qualities you should put more focus on. That’s it!

I’ll expand on each of these goals and more in future posts. Drop your name into one of the email boxes and I’ll keep you in the loop.

Additional Notes

  • Recovery was left off the list. It’s tough to determine it’s focus because it is wildly variant on the amount of training you will be doing.  You’ll know recovery is part of the problem when you are doing everything else on the list right and still not seeing results.
  • These are very general lists. Meaning, they are a good starting point. You may think things need to be shifted around. And that’s just fine.
  • If you are proficient in a certain area, this can change what your focus should be. For example, if you are trying to lose fat and your diet is already in check, the most important quality would become strength training.
  • Performance or athleticism was not shown on the goal chart. This is because the focus for athletic training greatly varies on what you are pursuing. Trying to run a 5k vs trying to jump high would require different focuses.

Conclusion

Most fitness goals fall under the aesthetic or performance categories. Fat loss and muscle gain would be aesthetic. Getting strong or training to be more athletic would fall under performance.

All training can be divided into different qualities. Movement, strength, power, and endurance.

Diet and recovery are factors outside of training the contribute to results.

Training for any fitness goal is a matter of focusing your effort on the training qualities most important to your goal, while managing the factors outside of your training.