Tangible Goal Setting

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Joan used her tangible goals help her compete at 2013 Strongwoman Nationals
 “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

~Lucius Annaeus Seneca


Goals are an important facet of training: without them, you are just another plebe kicking rocks at the gym without a clear purpose. Goals give you something to work towards, and give your training direction. A problem that I have found during LBEB consultations, however, is setting tangible goals with clients.


One of the first questions I ask new clients to do for me is give me three specific goals that they would like to hit within the next six months. Sometimes I receive goals like “achieve a 2x BW deadlift”, or “squat 275lbs”, although most of the goals end up looking like this:


1. Improve strength
2. Decrease bodyfat
3. Increase conditioning


Now, while these aren’t inherently bad goals, they are a little too esoteric and vague for my taste. After all, you may increase your deadlift by 1kg, and that is technically an improvement of strength, so the client has achieved what they were looking for.


Steph used tangible goals to take 3rd place at the LWC Weightlifting Championships
By keeping goals vague, you leave yourself open to get lazy with your training. If your six month goals is to simply get stronger, that could mean an overall improvement of 10%, or as little as 0.5%: both are technically improvements over previous strength, but I know which one I would rather have. If it turns out that a client has sent me somewhat vague goals, the first thing we do together is look at a list of their current lifts to see what is lacking, and work from there. For instance, if their power clean is higher than their clean due to a fear of dropping under the bar, I will set one of their six month goals as a 5% increase in their clean weight over their power clean weight. If a client is consistently not hitting bigger squat numbers, I will assign them a 5-10% increase goal for their squat in the next six months.



I will use Matt and myself as another example. We consistently failed the stone events at the last couple of our shows. Instead of saying “we want to get better at stones”, we said “we will load the 350lb stone at the next competition.” We have loaded the 350 several times during training, but always missed the event at the end of the show. After our Oregon show in August, we spent the next 6 weeks loading nothing but our 350lb stone to a 53″ bar for max reps every Saturday. The result? Matt loaded an easy two reps before his tacky was covered in dirt, and I loaded three reps to win the stone event in all heavyweight classes.

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.

While this isn’t a spectacular world record by any stretch of the imagination, it is a good example of what setting tangible goals can do for you. I consider a tangible goal to be something that you can grasp, something you can sink your teeth into. It is a number to hang in front of your face every day, something you think about while at work, while driving, while laying in bed.  Big goals make for big PR’s, while vague goals make for vague and lethargic training. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get stronger or decrease bodyfat, but giving yourself a tangible number will help give you more drive to reach it.

While this isn’t a spectacular world record by any stretch of the imagination, it is a good example of what setting tangible goals can do for you. I consider a tangible goal to be something that you can grasp, something you can sink your teeth into. It is a number to hang in front of your face every day, something you think about while at work, while driving, while lying in bed. Big goals make for big PR’s, while vague goals make for vague and lethargic training. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get stronger or decrease bodyfat, but giving yourself a tangible number will help give you more drive to reach it

  • The problem I found was having too many goals to narrow it to three specific ones. I could have said 130kg squat, 160kg DL and 100kg clean… but other goals are equally as important 🙂

  • I had a great experience with them! I already knew how to drive, but needed lessons with a manual transmission, or stick shift because of the car I was purchasing.
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