Hey guys, Mitko here and today’s blog post was inspired by a pattern I continually observe when I visit the bodybuilding.com forums.

Namely, guys lay out their current body composition and training experience and they ask what the best workout routine/nutrition plan for them is.

And while asking for advice is great and all, nowhere in the thread do they state their actual goal.

The problem with this, of course, is that different goals demand a different approach.

Start with the end in mind

Start with the end in mind

One of the success principles in Stephen Covey’s famous book “7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” is “start with the end in mind”.

Yet most guys’ focus is all over the place.

They want to build muscle, lose fat, get stronger and more “toned”… all at the same time.

Yet provided you’re not: (1)on performance-enhancing drugs, (2)a complete beginner or (3)an experience athlete who took a long break from training, you can’t really hope to build muscle and lose fat at the same time.

Losing fat and getting stronger don’t go hand in hand well either.

And while building muscle and getting stronger do correlate, choosing one will allow you to adopt an approach that will get you to your goal considerably faster than chasing two rabbits at the same time.

What you really have to do short-term is pick a single goal:

– Do you want to build muscle?

– Do you want to lose fat?

– Or do you want to get stronger?

All 3 of these goals demand a different approach.

That’s why you need to choose a clear direction you’re going to be headed in for the next 3-6 months.

Different approaches for different goals

Pick a single goal

Build muscle

If your goal is to build muscle, then you’re going to pick up a hypertrophy workout routine and eat above maintenance.

A hypertrophy routine , as opposed to a strength training program, will deliver enough volume for your muscles to be optimally stimulated for growth.

For this to happen, it will involve movements in diverse rep ranges so that you work all muscle fibre types as opposed to just the fast-twitch muscle fibre type that strength routines focus on.

As far as nutrition goes, you’ll have to consume about 500 calories above maintenance and at least 1g of protein per pound of lean body weight per day, all this to ensure that you’re in a sufficient caloric surplus and your body has the necessary protein and energy to build muscle.

Finally, cardio will either be severely reduced or completely removed from your training program for the time being.

Lose fat

If your goal is to lose fat, then you’re going to train similarly to when you were building muscle (with the exception of the added cardio) and you’re going to eat below maintenance.

Your training routine is going to look pretty much the same, except now you’re going to be doing a lot more cardio to make sure you’re in a caloric deficit.

On the nutrition side of things, you’re going to consume about 500 calories less than you’re burning while still eating at least 1g of protein per pound of lean body weight per day, so that you’re in a caloric deficit leading to fat loss. The reduction in the calories you consume is mainly going to come from cutting out carbs since protein and fat intake will remain approximately the same.

Gain strength

If your goal is to get stronger, then you’re going to pick up a strength training program and eat slightly above maintenance. Of course, if your secondary goal is to build muscle, again, you’re going to have to eat 500 calories above maintenance.

Your training routine is going to consist mainly of compound movements, lots of sets and low reps.

As such, strength gains will be optimal while muscle gains will still occur but at a slower pace since you won’t be stimulating the slow-twitch muscle fibres adequately.

Your nutrition is going to be pretty much the same as when your goal is to build muscle.

In conclusion:

focusStart with the end in mind.

Pick a single goal and adopt the approach that’s going to get you there in the shortest amount of time possible instead of chasing two rabbits at the same time and catching none as a result.

Lastly, keep in mind that while in the short-term you’re going to either be building muscle, losing fat or gaining strength, long-term most likely you’ll have to go through multiple cycles of alternating your goal in order to reach your dream physique.

Keep pushing!

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