Keeping Your Focus

Sometimes, especially for me, it’s easy to become distracted.

That’s where goal setting comes in.

I recently finished up a squat cycle to pack some mass back on my legs. It was a variation of Pavel’s “Hot Wheels For Summer” program from Beyond Bodybuilding. (If you don’t have Beyond Bodybuilding, you should get it – it is an amazing resource full of valuable training information that can also apply to kettlebell training…)

I’m not going to lie – it was hard.

Surprisingly enough, the program – the actual work – wasn’t that hard. The hard part was disciplining myself to finish the program as I had set it up. It was so simple, that as always, I was tempted to “spice it up.” Or change it. But I didn’t.

I ended up finishing the cycle in 4 weeks with 140kg/5 x 10 sets with 2 minutes rest. Admittedly, this is nothing to write home about. However, it is more work performed with that load than I’ve been able to handle for about 10 years due to my various injuries and resulting compensations.

Ok, admittedly, I did ADD to the program… After the squat portion, I added in some double kettlebell work with the emphasis on upper body hypertrophy. This I varied based on the effort I put forth during the squats. So, obviously, as the weight increased, my fatigue levels increased. Therefore, I varied the effort based on the levels of fatigue. Primarily, I used Dan John’s “Armor Protocol” – not the program itself, but the loading parameters.

It worked great.

After 4 weeks, I put on 13lbs – average.

I went from 207lbs. to 220lbs. (I even saw 228lbs – based on the foods I ate.)

It looked like I had put on football shoulder pads! Very cool!

There were several reasons I was successful with this cycle were the following:

A. I had [a] pre-determined goals:

  1. Back Squat 140kgs/5 x 10 sets with 2 minutes rest
  2. Get bodyweight to 220lbs.
  3. Pack muscle on legs and upper back
  4. Improve conditioning and general strength levels for Olympic lifts

B. I had a program and followed it – adjusting the program, but NOT changing it – using it as an experiment and trusting the process of the program

C. I made the program and my goals a priority – ensuring I didn’t miss any training sessions

You would think that as a fitness professional, these concepts would be intuitive to me. And they are when applied to my clients’ training. But with myself, admittedly, it has been “not-so-intuitive.”

What’s the bottom line to all this rambling?

There are just 3 things you need to accomplish your goals:

1. Desire – you’ve gotta really want to do it – your goal must be YOUR goal, not someone else’s.

2. Determination – you must realize that your goal is not going to appear just because you wish it to be so. I like to think of Determination as the mental aspect of goal setting. You must set your mind – no matter what – to accomplishing your goal and be able to overcome short term obstacles.

3. Dedication – I like to think of this as the “legs” of Determination. If Determination is the mental side of the game, then Dedication is the physical side. You have to show up and put the work in.

These concepts all seem very reasonable and very doable. Unfortunately, many of us never realize our goals because we fail to abide by these “rules.” We fail to keep our focus and then are upset when we fail to make progress.

What’s my takeaway from this program?

I’m not as special as I’d like to think I am. I modified the program, but I still stayed on it and made progress for 4 weeks. Not my usual 2.


This just proves what my old coach, Alfonso used to say: “Anything can work if applied properly…”

1 comment… add one
  • Mike T Nelson Sep 11, 2009 @ 22:03

    Nice work Geoff! Great reminders for all of us too

    The only one I would add is if at all possible to have people work directly with a coach. While the programs you site a great, nothing beats having a customized approach, someone watch your form and hold you accountable.

    Everyone needs a coach (myself included!)

    Rock on!
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

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