December is fast approaching (where did the time go?) and those new year’s resolutions you made back in January have become but a distant memory. As the year comes to a close, what better time is there to prioritise a more sustainable, new and most importantly, effective approach to reach your fitness and health goals?
The most common New Year’s resolution amongst the U.K population in 2015?
Over 32% of us prioritized ‘lose weight’ as our number one new year’s resolution – what with the popular juice cleanses that exploded on to the wellness scene, the healthy eating gurus teaching us what (and what not) to eat in nutrition and the huge availability of the one-size-fits-all fitness plans readily available to buy at the click of a button.
But did these work for you? Or did they help you get to a certain point, followed by a relapse and now you’re back to where you started not really knowing which way to head next? Ask yourself honestly, are you performing better than you were last year – what have you achieved?
In this post, I want to discuss the importance of SMART goal setting. The goals that help us become more accountable and therefore help us achieve the results we want faster without putting the body through unnecessary stresses. How you can use scientific tools to more smartly plan, track, measure and achieve the goals that you set yourself.
Forget the ‘lose weight’ or ‘eat healthy’ resolutions. Focus on creating verifiable routes towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal’s attainability. Make your goals S.M.A.R.T – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
For example: I will follow a 3-day strength training program every week for one month in order to increase my strength or I will limit myself to two glasses of wine during the week for three months to see if I see a difference in my body fat %
But why are SMART goals so important?
SMART goal setting brings structure and trackability into your daily, weekly and monthly fitness and nutrition routine. Instead of vague resolutions, SMART goal setting creates verifiable routes towards a certain objective, with clear milestones and an estimation of the goal’s attainability along the way that keep you on track and motivated to reach the ultimate goal.
Every goal or objective, from intermediary step to overarching objective, can be made S.M.A.R.T. and as such, brought closer to reality.
In professional sports coaching, an athlete’s goal is broken down into a Macro cycle (the year plan), the Meso cycle (each month) and the Micro cycle (the weekly, daily plan). Each cycle has its own set of smart objectives and milestones. For example, an athlete’s goal may be to run a full marathon. Here’s how we would break that down simply:
Use this as a basis for forming your own goals. Splitting them up in this way sets you up for success from the start, as you are able to break your overall objective up into smaller milestones that are relatively achievable in a shorter amount of time.
This has huge physical, mental and emotional benefits – not only will you feel and see the advantages of achieving the smart goals week on week, but it will also give you the freedom to treat yourself to small rewards, such as ‘cheat’ meals or a splurge on a new gym kit, without the guilt that tends to be associated with such things.
Important note: when forming your SMART goals, ensure you are formulating them POSITIVELY. Remember that what you focus on, increases. So when you focus on NOT doing something, all you think about is that thing. And it will increase. So don’t ‘stop procrastinating’, but ‘achieve a daily discipline’.
Then when you reach that milestone, reward yourself. It’s small things like that that will keep you on track and help you stay sane as you move closer towards your overall performance goal.
How to build your SMART goals
Smart goals are formed from the most current information about your body: your body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, personal bests. How you perform on a day-to-day basis and what you want to achieve over a certain period of time in relation to your performance. At Lomax, we promote the concept of the 80|20 body. It’s about being happy, healthy and never hungry – living a balanced life and still looking good. Being able to increase your performance capabilities whilst still being able to live your day-to-day life.
So how do we do this?
It is very difficult to simplify and create a one-size fits all approach to creating a lean body. There isn’t one type of training plan or one meal plan that will work. This is because your body is a sophisticated machine that is designed to adapt for its survival. So first things first, we need to trick the body into responding to new stimulus and transforming so we can perform in the way we are aiming for.
The key thing here is understanding what percentage of your body mass is likely to be fat and what percentage is muscle, water and bone. From here, you can then move on to calculating the sorts of activity levels and nutrition required to move closer towards your goals and start seeing results.
The three recommended services for doing this are:
At Lomax we offer BIA via a hi-tech system called Boditrax as well as classic skinfold caliper testing in all of our Nutritional Consultations.
Boditrax is an incredible new precision technology that after just one non-evasive scan can give a wealth of information about your body composition. Metrics include weight, body fat percentage, lean muscle mass, metabolic age, even hydration levels.
With this information, which, amongst other things also estimates your Basal Metabolic Rate (the amount of energy your body needs just to operate) you can start to build a SMART fitness and nutrition plan based on MACRO calculations bespoke to you.
What are macros?
Essentially these are the number of carbs, fats and proteins you need to hit your energy goal every day. Following the practice of counting (and reaching) your macros helps to ensure that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs in doses that are imperative to creating that lean body you want.
How do you work out your own personal macros?
Once you have your BMR and we can then apply two levels of energy outputs to this figure.
- The calories you would require to do the things you do in everyday life – your waking day
- The calories you burn during any specific exercise you do
This gives us a more accurate understanding of your Estimated Energy Requirement (EER)
Understanding your EER is important for optimum performance, and because generally speaking if you need to lose body fat, to do so in a safe and healthy way you need to be in what is known as a caloric deficit, of roughly 500 kcals – in other words you consume 500 fewer calories than you burn in a 24 hour period – not just your waking day – you burn kcals while you are asleep – but we can come onto this in later articles on rest and recovery).
Conversely, if you want to build muscle, you need to be in a calorie surplus. For most who are carrying body fat, we actually want to build muscle in order to speed up the metabolism and encourage fat loss.
Depending on what your goals are, it may be more advantageous to go through a period of consuming a calorie surplus (in your micro or meso cycle) in order to build that muscle and aid in fat loss as a long term goal.
Further to this, if your goal is performance based, we may have to revisit this in relation to the type of muscle fibres that need to be build and therefore what type of hypertrophy you are looking to achieve (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy and myobrillar hypertrophy, again something for another article).
There are plenty of online tools which will do this for you. At Lomax Bespoke Fitness, Nutrition and Wellbeing, we are sponsored by UnderArmour ™ who own the fitness and nutrition tracking app called MyFitnessPal, which will calculate your EER for you.
Furthermore, it will then help you align your energy requirement with your goal (to build a lean body) and give you the MACROS you need to follow to reach this goal. We will come onto this in more detail in later posts.
The importance of body type
The only problem with online calculators and apps – is that most of them don’t factor in body type.
Understanding body type and planning around it, in relation to your BMR, EER and MACROS can be the difference between success and failure. Body type largely dictates how your body handles carbs, and therefore can be used to tweak your MACROS depending on your goal.
What is most important is understanding that your body type will change over time as you become more muscular and your metabolism changes. People don’t tend to be one type over their lifetime! It is worth speaking to a nutritionist or personal trainer about this.
SO let’s see all of this real life!
Roughly speaking a 0.2-0.5kg body weight increase per week (a lot of people argue that building strength and maintaining fat is one of the hardest goals)
Current Daily MACROS: depending on training day – AV. Protein: 35%, Fats: 30%, Carbs: 35% (I am mesomorphic so tend to need a few extra carbs when building muscle, but I like to tend to be more endurance based in my training so cycle carbs and fats, i tend to up my carbs on leg day for example)
Current Grams per MACRO: total calories per day is between 3000-3400 depending on training days (because I want to be in a slight calorie surplus) so I use roughly 270g of carbs, 270g of protein and roughly 100g of fats (I change the ratio of carb cycling days to around 270g of carbs and up kcals from fats and protein so I don’t fall out of the 500kcal deficit)
These are very indicative numbers as I am busy so this doesn’t factor in training times and therefore nutrient timing.
How did I generate these goals?
Using the Boditrax, I was able to find get a digital snapshot of my current body composition. Here are my results initially:
Notice the BMR of 2077. These are the amount of calories I need everyday to essentially just stand up and live my day to day life. It does not factor in the exercise expenditure or any other activities such as my job.
I am still very much hands on at Lomax and train around 4-6 clients a day – as well as running around being the boss of our ever examining empire – my calculated energy expenditure doing this sort of a job as roughly 500 kcals per day being a Personal Trainer.
Also interesting to look at are my visceral fat rating (VFR) and metabolic age. VFR refers to the fat surrounding your vital organs around your abdomen area. Ideally, you want this be as low as possible.
Metabolic age uses your BMR score and the average BMR score for people of your age to create a number that represents the efficiency of your metabolism. Note that the BMR is a much better representation of your body mass compared to BMI which fails to take into consideration your ratio of fat:muscle . My metabolic age is 15 years younger than my actual age!
I then calculated that my fitness plan to hit my goal added and between 500-900 kcals per day depending on exercise type.
Only then did I factor in my body type and age – I am nearly 39 and whilst I feel like a teenager, I know my hormone profile is not what it was when I was younger and playing sports and found it easy to pack on muscle and burn through anything I ate!
Lastly – I am a wine addict so I knew that I had to factor in my go to stress buster red wine – essentially a carb but also a will power killer!
(For more detail please get in contact or wait for our next posts on more specific training and nutrition plans where I break down this into more detail)
My current results
Weight – remember my goal – looking for roughly 0.2-0.5kg max per week of weight gain – ideally from muscle, not fat (although when looking for increases in strength, some extra fat will occur due to the increased carbs needed and my body type). Since my first Boditrax assessment, I have gained 2kg of muscle mass (therefore body weight) and +0.1 fat % (I knew this would happen).
My BMR has also increased, meaning that I can afford to increase my daily calorific intake by 62 kcals (win) in order to maintain this new muscle and fat ratio. I can then use this information to recalculate my macros to ensure I am able to move forward towards my goals vs staying stagnant at my previous weight.
If I stayed at my previous BMR kcals, I would unlikely be able to gain the muscle mass I want. Therefore, frequent body composition analyses are essential to keep me updated and informed about how my body is responding to both my workouts and the way I’m eating.
Points to note – Consistency, water and EPOC
It is important not to misunderstand water gains and losses as muscle or fat gains and losses – Boditrax will keep your hydration levels on point, but it can be very confusing if you test before and after a night out or before and after training or a high carb cheat meal!.
Secondly, depending on your training intensity, carb cycling on rest days might not work for you as your metabolic rate can still be higher the day after a heavy training session as your body is trying to recover.
Again this is easy to track as long as you stick to your macros constantly and measure on the same day and the same time. More on this sort of thing in future articles.
In our next post, we are going to talk about how you can create your own bespoke fitness plan, eliminating the need to splash the cash on any regimes out there that promote a one size fits all mentality.
Covering areas such as HIIT, strength training and steady state cardio, it’s our aim to help you to become more knowledgeable about what exercise is best for you, to suit your needs and to help you attain your goals in order to achieve that 80/20 body.
Your first Boditrax scan is available here at Lomax Bespoke Fitness, Nutrition & Wellbeing for £10.