There are hundreds if not thousands – or even millions – of variables that affect your progress.
Sure, if you want to build muscle then getting stronger and gaining weight is key. And if you want to cut fat then lifting weights and eating less is key.
And focusing on those big pieces of the equation is crucial…
But even if you’re doing those things right, there’s one big mistake you’re probably making that will prevent you from building rapid momentum towards your goals in the gym…
The big mistake: Not setting monthly goals
You see – setting a big overarching goal of bulking up, shredding down, or getting stronger is worthless if you don’t follow through on the smaller steps necessary to getting there.
Setting monthly goals will ensure you take consistent action, fine-tune your approach, and ultimately guarantee that you accomplish your goal – and do it in a shorter timeframe that if you hadn’t set monthly goals.
At the beginning of each month you should set a new goal for yourself – a key technique or area to focus your efforts on for the next 30 days. A few examples are:
- Adding weight to your 1 rep max (e.g. adding 20 lbs. to your max squat)
- Applying a new technique (e.g. applying leg drive to your bench press)
- Experimenting with a new diet approach (e.g. a low carb or high carb diet)
- Improving your performance with a new training style (e.g. using dumbbells instead of barbells)
The benefits of doing this are numerous. Below are my top five reasons you should be setting monthly goals starting today…
1. Increased motivation to hit the gym
If you’re trying out a new technique, then you’re going to be pumped to get your ass in the gym and try it out.
Will it make you stronger? Will it alleviate your back pain? You’ll only have these answers once you’ve tested it out for yourself in the gym.
If you’re on a new diet plan, then you’re going to be pumped to see if it will enhance your progress towards your goal.
Will it make you stronger and allow you to build more muscle? Will it allow you to burn those last few stubborn pounds of belly fat? You’ll only know for sure if you go hard in the gym while you try the new diet out.
You see – having a monthly focus will boost your motivation to hit the gym and make you crush it even harder while you’re there – because it gives you something to work on that might produce instant results and grant you a short-term sense of progress.
2. Enhanced progress towards your goals
Monthly focuses will ultimately fine tune your approach to training and diet.
As you experiment with more and more things, you’ll sort through countless training-specific techniques and dietary changes. Some will give you results, others won’t do shit.
You’ll keep the ones that work, and discard the ones that do not. And this will slowly fine tune your overall approach. You’ll get stronger in key exercises by tweaking your technique and you’ll find a diet that comforts your stomach and gives you the energy to perform your best in the gym.
This will take time – yes – but it will ultimately lead you to sculpting a bigger and leaner version of yourself.
3. Better understanding of your body
As you weed out the bullshit that doesn’t work for you – and find the techniques that do – you’ll develop a better understanding of what works for your body. This goes hand-in-hand with making faster progress.
Maybe your hips are better suited for a wide stance, low bar squat. But maybe a high bar, narrow stance works better. Maybe you’re stronger with a narrow grip on the bench press. But maybe something slightly wider is better for you.
Maybe your energy levels are higher when you avoid gluten and eat a high fat, high protein diet. But maybe a high carb, low fat diet gives you better energy. Maybe intermittent fasting allows you to better control your appetite. But maybe it’s just a nuisance.
You see – there are endless different approaches to diet and training out there. And all of them can work. But you’ll only truly know if they work well for you if you actually try them… A month-long trial happens to be the perfect way to find out.
4. Superior fitness knowledge
The added benefit of researching new things to try – and actually testing them out – is that your knowledge and understanding of the human body and different approaches to fitness will quickly improve.
You’ll be able to sense bro-science bullshit and fad-diets before you’ve had a chance to fall for the hype. Put simply: you’ll have a well-rounded knowledge base of an invaluable topic – your health and your body.
5. Habit-building benefits
Possibly the most valuable thing you’ll get from applying monthly focuses to your fitness regimen is the self-discipline you’ll build as a result.
You’ll learn the value of setting a health related goal and sticking with it for a month. And this is an invaluable skill to have.
In fact, applying this technique to other areas of your life can produce nearly unlimited benefits. Some examples of monthly habits you can try include:
- Reading every morning for 30 minutes
- Meditating every night for 10 minutes
- Avoiding internet porn
- Trying a new hobby like learning a martial arts
You see – after you’ve given something a try for a month you’ll know if it benefits you or not. And if it does – and you’ve done it consistently for the past 30 days – then it will already be a subconscious part of your daily routine…
And if not? Then say “fuck it” and move on to the next monthly experiment.
Good advice. In general, seeing the gym as my lab space has been a benefit. I don’t go there to workout as much as see what happens. That curiosity seems to keep it fresh and keep me open to trying new things if they come up. The months have always made a nice way to signal bigger changes.
Thanks – I’m with you Adam – it’s just way more fun to head to the gym knowing you’re about to test something new out rather than just do another old workout.
Right. As long as we don’t feel we NEED something new all the time, and end up down Creativity Lane. Like, doing deadlifts on the stability ball. Actually, scratch that. I would love to see deadlifts on the ball. Who’s first? I’ll load the bar for any takers.
It’s my first comment here so i would like to mention that you have built a great website. Good job!
Concerning the article i totally agree with you that setting monthly goals can be really beneficial especially when it comes to increasing your motivation.
I remembered the first time i utilized intermittent fasting combined with some changes in my workout programm. I was so pumped up and wanted to go to the gym every single day.
Just a “little more”, sticking to a different habit, learning something else every month can make a huge difference in your progress.
Thanks Damian – do you still use intermittent fasting? I personally love it because it makes my stomach feel so much better throughout the day.
Yes i still do. I think it’s the best approach to follow. It offers so many benefits like the one you mentioned.
I learned a lot of things from this article Thanks a lot David.
Keep up the great work and im loving the website 🙂
Thank you Frank!