Lately I have been greatly consumed by reaching my aesthetic goals. While they are not bad to have, I found myself becoming overly obsessed with them. I found myself longing for the days where yes, I had aesthetic goals, but really I was focusing on, “can I increase the weight by 5-10lbs in this exercise?” “Can I go 12-15 reps? How about if I increase the weight can I get 8-10?” So I decided to put a bit more of a focus on some strength goals.
There are only 5 months left in 2015, so what are some strength goals that I would like to accomplish by the time we enter 2016? And while I could get a list going that is crazy long, or pick something for each muscle group etc, I don’t want to spread myself too thin. Instead, I want to just pick a couple, and work on them while continuing to aim to reach my aesthetic goals.
So here are my top two STRENGTH goals for 2015:
– Deadlift a ORM (one rep max) of 200 lbs
– Accomplish 1 set of 10 unassisted natural grip pull ups
While I could sit here and list out various other strength goals, these are the two that I really feel strongly about. Ones that I would feel extremely accomplished and great about achieving. I thought for a bit, maybe I need a third? But nothing came to mind that I really truly wanted to accomplish. So instead of filling up a list, those are the two strength goals that I am determined to succeed at before entering 2016. And if I am truly honest, I don’t doubt that I can reach them. In fact, I would be surprised if with intentional work I don’t quickly surpass those goals before we enter into November. Either way, those are the goals I am setting for myself. They’re completely realistic, and I would pretty much shed tears of pride and joy when I accomplish them.
So let’s stop for a moment and bask in what these goals actually mean.
What is a deadlift and why is that goal important to me? A deadlift is an exercise where you have a 25lb barbell on the floor, and you load plates on each side. You then proceed to stand behind the barbell, grab it with your hands, and lift it up off the ground, and slowly lower it back down. Why is this so hard? It uses pretty much every muscle in your body. Your calves, quads, glutes, hamstrings, back, and your arms. There are plenty of variations, but the one I prefer is actually a sumo stiff leg. What that means is that I stand with my legs wider than shoulder width apart, and I only put a slight bend in my knees when I bend down to lift. I don’t really know why I prefer this stance other than it feels natural to me.
Why is having a ORM of 200lb for the deadlift important to me? It is a sheer sign of strength. I don’t know a single girl at my gym that can deadlift 200lbs. I have a fire fighter buddy that deadlifts 400lbs. So for me to get a ORM of half of that is HUGE! When I started my fitness journey in 2013 I had no idea I would ever find weight lifting, and I had ZERO intention of ever setting a goal like this. If you told me back then that I would realistically set a goal of deadlifting an ORM of 200lbs I would have had wide eyes and fallen over on the floor in tears laughing. So this is a major sign of just how much has changed for me over 2 years. Even right now as I type this I cannot even believe that this is a goal I have, let alone a goal I feel confident that I can reach!
In early May this year I was able to get 2 sets of 2 reps at 185lbs. Keep in mind- that was a high carb day, and I wasn’t cutting at the time. Since then I am on a deficit and have experienced a little bit of strength loss initially. That doesn’t mean it’s not achievable. It just means it will absolutely take a bit more intentional work in order to get there while prepping to compete. So it means working harder at my deadlifts. Setting out a bit of a plan and not just winging it. Increasing the weight every couple of weeks. So right now I have no doubt I can do it. Just yesterday I did 2 sets of 20 deadlifts at 115lbs and then did an additional 2 sets of 12 after that. So I feel confident that I can accomplish this goal. Especially given I have 5 months.
So now let’s talk about unassisted pull ups. What is an unassisted pull up? Well first of all a pull up is where you are in a dead hang (completely hanging from a bar,) and you proceed to lift yourself up so your chin is at or over the bar by using your arms and back. That means, don’t swing your legs, no momentum is there other than you are lifting yourself up and then slowly lowering yourself back down. Unassisted means that nothing is helping you do this. You can find assisted pull up machines at most gyms. I used these for a long time, but now I can do some without any assistance, so that is what I do. Natural grip simply has to do with the placement of my hands. My arms are shoulder width apart and my palms are facing each other. This is one of the easier versions. (Still hard! Believe me!) It just means that the weight is displaced more evenly, and not relying so much on JUST my lats/back. I can use my biceps a bit more.
Why is completing a set of 10 unassisted pull ups important to me? Well again, this has to do with sheer strength. Have YOU ever tried unassisted pull ups? They are HARD!!!!! When I began my journey I couldn’t do one. Not a single one unassisted. In fact, when I started, I used the assisted machine and had to take 100lbs off of my body weight. Now, I can do a few sets of 4 unassisted reps with a good 30-45 second rest in between each set. That is a BIG DEAL!!! So to do ONE set with 10 REPS non stop would be a MAJOR accomplishment! Again, not many females are great at pullups. We tend to have most of our strength in our lower bodies. So to do something like this is huge!
I think this is again, a completely achievable goal. I can do a few sets (usually 3-4 sets) with 4 reps right now. And it’s July. I have 5 months, and I already am on the right track! I am just trying to be sure that every time I workout- I do them. Doesn’t matter what day of my split I am on. Leg day? Do as many sets of as many unassisted pull ups that I can. Back day? Great! It’s already a part of my workout- so start with them! Upper body day? Awesome, start with them before your biceps get tired! Shoulders? Start with them so your delts don’t give out on you! Simple as that. Repetition and consistency.
Overall, these goals are just going to take me working at them intentionally. I have two leg days each week and you bet I am going to be deadlifting each time. I will do pull ups every time I workout. Just working at them consistently will increase my ability to do them. So, beyond achieving some aesthetic goals this year, THOSE are my strength goals! Here’s to 5 more months to get them done!