- "Setting Goals: The Key to your Success!"
- "The Power of Muscle & Your Metabolic Rate"
- "Cutting Edge Information for Athletic Performance"



Any day is a great day for setting goals or making a healthy lifestyle change, but there is something special about New Year's Day that brings out the most sincere efforts in everyone. So whether you are aiming for a reduction in body fat, an increase in muscle mass, more energy to keep up with everyday life, or a goal specific to your elite athletic pursuits, start setting your goals ASAP so that you can get on the road to success.

Goal setting is not a behavior limited to fitness and working out. It is something that should be incorporated into almost every aspect of life, from financial planning to fitness, to networking and building social contacts. Your fitness goals can be as simple as promising to learn a new exercise or as specific as setting out to lose 18 pounds of fat and to gain 6 pounds of muscle!

Just like when you set financial goals, you may also want to consider sitting down with a professional trainer or strength coach to outline strategies and behaviors that are directly in line with meeting your fitness and performance goals. A smart trainer will give you simple and effective solutions to prevent that awkward stray from your workout program, such as the importance of keeping a training and nutrition log book. Also, because people are so often overwhelmed by a vast number of commitments in life, workouts are often the first thing to be dropped from their day. Fortunately, there is another simple solution to this problem, and that is simply to book your workouts as you would book your daily business appointments.

Goal setting is also much more than a tool to keep you consistent with your training. It's much more than that. It can be both a rigid plan that ensures success and a highly motivating technique that offers continuous rewards as you meet your smaller goals on the road to your larger primary goal. So how does one goal set for success?

Fortunately, there is a process called "Reverse Goal Setting" that meets all of the above descriptions and can help bring your goals to fruition. Reverse goal setting is stricter and more accurate than simply setting a long-term goal and hoping that nature takes its course. One should expect reverse goal setting to lead to much better results and a more enjoyable process, although it may mean dealing with a little more pressure.

So how does it work? Well, first you set your long-term end goal, whether it is fitness-related or financial. For example, let's say that you want to lose 20 lbs. of fat by the summer. Your first step would be to identify the exact date that you want to have met that goal (let's say the holiday weekend in May). Now, instead of setting goals to work up to that date, you will actually set a series of smaller goals by working back from the original date. This way there is no going easy at the start, a trap that many people often fall into by setting one vague goal after the other. With this method, you can't afford to delay because you have rigid deadlines to meet!

Step 2 is to arrange for a test to determine your level of success in reaching this goal. In this case, simply arrange for a body composition test with an experienced professional at the final date in May. Now comes the more difficult part, and that is setting smaller goals from May back to January. Given that it is very manageable to lose one pound of fat per week, your next-to-last goal will be to have lost ~17 pounds of fat by the first of May. You should also understand that those last 3 pounds may be the most difficult to lose, so additional goals for May could also be to train more consistently than ever before and to follow a well-devised nutritional plan as strictly as possible.

Stepping back another month, you will need to have lost at least 13 pounds of fat by the first of April. If you don't meet that goal, then you will seriously have to adjust your training program for the remainder of the month. Since research has shown that interval training can result in greater fat loss than continuous traditional aerobic training, now is the time to become fully committed to interval fat loss training! Preparing workout plans far in advance of the training period make also makes for a very smooth and successful program, so be sure to plan the final two months at this time.

Now to March, and the end of a long winter for many, when the opportunity to train outside will tease you with brief stints of warm weather, but the days will still be too short to enjoy. You know from your timeline that 10 pounds of fat should have been lost since the first of January. And since March is a long month, you should probably have many different workout plans available to help overcome any staleness or a lack of motivation for training. If you haven't already set a mid-program body composition test or progress check, do so now so that you will see just how far you have advanced!

And on to February, where you will have already seen the benefits of the dietary and exercise changes you made in January. You should have noticed a large loss of body weight by now, but this month should be dedicated to ensuring that the weight loss was entirely fat and that all of your muscle is maintained to help burn calories. A great way to do so is to make February's goal to incorporate more resistance training into your weekly routine. Simple exercises such as squats, deadlifts, rows, and presses should give you more benefits than any combination of curls and extensions. Slick and sleek as they may be, few isolation exercises even come close to the benefits of these multi-joint exercises. Dedicate 3 to 4 days of the week to weight training (followed by interval training or traditional continuous exercise) to help you achieve a better body composition.

Finally, you come to January, and your chance to set the first goals that will kick-off your program. Before you do anything else, take a "before" picture. No matter what program or nutritional advice you follow, and no matter what the final result, you can always take great pride in your transformation. To accompany your photo, schedule a body composition test with a professional, or simply take a few measurements at home to satisfy your curiosity.

You will now begin your program planning, identifying immediate nutritional and exercise goals, such as decreasing your sugar and soda intake, and increasing your energy expenditure. You also know to decrease your intake of hydrogenated and saturated fats, while increasing your intake of fats from fish. All of this is outlined in ISSUE #73. Finally, replace your soda intake with Green Tea, and greatly increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. It's a very simple dietary turnaround that is the first major step to help you reach your goal.

And now that you've set a deadline, you need to implement a fitness plan. Consult a professional or a magazine that will lead you down the right path. For men, check out the experts at Men's Health (www.menshealth.com). For ladies, the experts at Oxygen magazine will fit the bill. Another great resource is the GET LEAN program (www.cbathletics.com/whatsnew_getlean.htm) because it maps out your training for several months and your daily nutrition. Make one of your original goals to be consistency! Follow your training and nutritional outline and your goals will be reached faster than ever!

But once you set that big goal, you must be 100% committed to reaching it! Setting down smaller concrete steps will outline your path to success in such a detailed manner that there will be no room for failure. By knowing where you have to be at each specific date, you can make the necessary nutritional and training changes to the program.

For athletes, let goal setting take the place of informal questions. Don't just dream of being somewhere in 4 years! Put the steps down on paper and the deadlines as well (i.e. if you want to be a pro in 4 years, what level will you need to play at in 3 years from now? 2 years from now?). Determine the long-term goals first and then move down to the specific skill or physical attribute that you need to improve this year and next. Goal setting is your road map to reaching your dreams.



Q: "How much energy does fat burn? My trainer says that lean tissue burns more calories, and therefore I should weight train to help me lose weight. I thought that would just make me gain weight. Please help!"

A:Your trainer makes a great argument. First off, fat does not burn a lot of calories, but muscle does, so you want to increase your muscle mass. According to Mike Zappetelli, CSCS, a great trainer, massage therapist, and ART specialist down in Niagara Falls, Ontario, "Lean muscle tissue is our working engine, therefore, the more you have the more calories you burn. If you have a lot of fat and very little lean mass, then you won't burn a lot of extra calories at rest."

Mike uses the analogy of the car (check out his other great "body fat analogy" at (ISSUE #49). "When you weight train, you increase your lean mass...like taking a four cylinder engine and dropping a V8 under the hood. The former burns little fuel, while the latter guzzles it...just the same as calories burned in the human body."

But what is the science behind it? First off, fat cells are practically metabolically inert. If you look at a fat cell, it is nothing more than a cell membrane and a huge fat drop. That's it. In contrast, a muscle cell is highly metabolic because it has a large amount of protein and energy turnover.

Furthermore, take a look at a breakdown of your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). According to class notes collected from Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, 25% of your BMR (the calories that you burn every day at rest) is controlled by lean tissue mass. Thus, muscle is a large factor in your metabolic rate and is largest factor under our control. Therefore, if you increase your muscle mass then you increase your metabolism.


Q: "How do I determine my Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) that trainers and fat loss articles consistently are referring to?"

A:This calculation was presented in ISSUE #77, but is reviewed again here to eliminate any confusion. From the class notes of Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky comes this gender specific recommendation:

* Male BMR = 1.0 kcal/kg/hour

* Female BMR = 0.9 kcal/kg/hour


Using the example of a 70kg male:

BMR = 1.0 x 70 (kg) x 24 (hours)

BMR = 1680 kcal

In contrast, females have a lower calorie requirement (BMR) because they generally have less muscle. As mentioned in the answer above, muscle accounts for ~25% of your BMR. Therefore, for a 70kg woman:

BMR = 0.9 x 70 x 24

BMR = 1512 kcal per day.


Let's compare the above estimation to another simple formula that estimates BMR. Note however that this equation is not gender specific and thus may overestimate calorie needs for females:

* Body weight x 11

Using a 70kg individual:

BMR = 154 (lbs) x 11

BMR = 1694 kcal per day

This is very similar to the 1680 kcal as estimated by Dr. Tarnopolsky's equation (for males). There is one very important consideration to take into account with respect to gender differences in BMR estimations. Dr. Tarnopolsky has noted that both females and obese individuals are more resistant to energy deficits. That is, they will lose less weight than males when the same caloric restriction is imposed. Based on that observation, the use of Dr. Tarnopolsky's gender specific estimation will be more helpful for females seeking to lose body fat.




Angus, S., et al. Massage therapy for sprinters and runners. Clin. Poditr. Med. Surg. 18: 329, 2001.

According to the abstract, this paper describes massage therapy as a powerful tool to help athletes reduce recovery time after a track meet, minimize injury, and improve body movement fluidity. Although there was no opportunity to review the paper, it may be worthwhile for massage therapists. If any interested reader has access to this paper, a review would be very welcome!


Ross, A., and M. Leveritt. Long-Term Metabolic and Skeletal Muscle Adaptations to Short-Sprint Training: Implications for Sprint Training and Tapering. Sports Med. 31: 1063-1082, 2001.

According to this abstract, sprint training causes both metabolic and morphological changes. Enzymes of all three energy systems adapt to sprint training and begin a return to initial levels when the athlete stops training for extended periods. Elite sprinters have a greater ability to rapidly breakdown phosphocreatine (PCr) than sprinters of lower caliber. This means that they can regenerate ATP (the energy source for muscle contraction) at a faster rate.

Glycolytic enzyme activity has been shown to increase after sprint training but these benefits will be completely lost within 2 to 6 months of detraining. Long sprints or a short recovery between sprints will lead to increases in mitochondrial enzyme activity. This adaptation will also help produce ATP at a faster rate.

Morphological adaptations to sprint training include changes in muscle fiber type, sarcoplasmic reticulum, and fiber cross-sectional area. As with most forms of training, sprinting leads to an increase in type IIa muscle fibers. In addition, sprinting can increase muscle cross-sectional area (similar to resistance training) and can increase the sarcoplasmic reticulum volume to help release more Ca++ for the complex process of muscle contraction.

However, it must be noted that an excessive training volume and/or frequency will cause the undesirable effect of slower muscle contractile characteristics. In contrast, detraining appears to shift the contractile characteristics towards type IIb (IIx), although muscle atrophy is also likely to occur. This shift of muscle towards a faster contractile form when training stops has often been a point of confusion with muscle researchers. In fact, some researchers have given this fiber type the dubious title of the "couch potato fiber".

The researchers also suggest that muscle conduction velocity appears to be a potential non-invasive method of monitoring contractile changes in response to sprint training and detraining. The faster muscle is signaled to contract, the faster the athlete may be.

Thus, the adaptations to sprinting depend on the duration of the sprint and the recovery bout, as well as the total volume and frequency of sprints and training sessions. Unfortunately, because the interactions of all of these factors are highly complex, it is very difficult to prescribe an optimal training protocol based on laboratory knowledge. With anything else, individual response to training is a very important variable that often gets lost in laboratory analysis. This paper does provide some interesting insight into sprint training and the related field of improving a team sport athlete's speed.



Well, the mainstream media is finally catching on to the safety and efficacy of creatine. Check out this link for a recent press release


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