T Nation

Realistic Goals?


Alright, I thought I had figured out what I wanted and where I wanted to go with body building. But I still cannot figure out a goal right now. Here's my stats currently 5'8" and 187 lbs. I am currently doing CW's TBT 3 times a week and participating in Joel Marion's Cheaters Diet group. I'm unhappy with my gut basically, it sticks out like I'm pregnant. I really want to change that.

But here's where I don't know what to do, I see physiques like Ernie Sims and Brad Cardova? and I think damn I would like that build . I do not know what kind of time frame a goal like that would take. I figured that these guys have been working out a long time to get the way they are. I should mention that my original goal was to lose weight and get ripped.

I now see the physiques that I like and want to know how to acheive them and what I need to do to get there. I'm still new at bodybuilding and have alot to learn, I am willing to learn and any guidance is highly appreciated.


If that's you in your avatar, you don't need to worry about losing fat. You need to build muscle to have a body anywhere close to those you've mentioned.

I recommend sticking to the basics -- lift heavy and often and eat smart to allow your body to recover and grow. There are plenty of nutrition and training articles on this site that cover this.

Don't worry about finding that "one" special routine that will allow you to make progress over night. There are likely many routines that will work well for you at this point. Just pick one and use it for 6 to 8 weeks. If you continue to progress, stick with it. If not, try something else for 6 to 8 weeks.

It's not rocket science (no matter what some personal trainers would like you to believe).


Ok, so I shouldn't worry about the amount of body fat that I'm carrying, which I think is alot, close to 20% I would say. Also with the examples I've given of physiques I would like, what kind of time frame should I set for myself 1 year, 2 years,5 years? Having defined goals is a must for me since I hold myself to it more tightly than if I dont' have a defined goal.

I know that this physique is going to take a while to build, what would one recommend as monthly goals? Strength goals, ect? I know alot of this is up to me but I just need some ideas so I can have something to focus on.


It's a completely individual thing although it will probably take quite a few years. LEarn to enjoy the training. If your training is your reward then you will last a lot longer than if you set some far off goal that takes years of consistant and dedicated work to achieve. Enjoy the journey and all the little goals you set and achieve along the way and you will eventually get where you want to go. Short answer: don't worry about it.


Thanks, I like the short answer. I do enjoy the training, as I can still see improvements right now. I was just hoping to get a feel from some of the more experienced people here on what kind of goals I would need to set to acheive the final product I have my mind set on.


Both the guys you mentiones as having physiques you would like to emulate are fucking strong dudes. I suggest you do as they do and get hella strong. However you choose to workout, make sure that you are tracking your lifts and striving to be stronger month by month.

I like all Chad Waterbury's programs, and I think alternating Quattro Dynamo and Strength Focused Mesocycle one or twice would be a good start. I also like the West Side approach, but I honestly feel that the program you are on is less important then quantifying and tracking your progress.

Hope that helps,



Yes that does help and probably more than you thought it would. Suggestions like yours is what I was looking for, not that the other advice wasn't good, it was. It exposes me to programs I'm unfamiliar with as options I wouldn't have considered. And I know what you mean by they are both really strong guys. I know it's not a goal that's short term but I'm gonna work my ass off to get there no matter how long it takes.


DON'T estimate your % body fat! Get it measured! If that's you in your display picture, I would say you're A LOT lower than 20%. I have a fairly large gut and ASSUMED it meant I had too much fat in my abs. So, I cut a lot of fat out of my diet. Then I actually got my % bf measured with 7 point caliper ratings and it was 5.9%! (

I was stunned!) My abs look bad and round because I have poorly developed ab muscles (which I'm working on while I try to gain weight). I actually have very little fat and the bad looking abs have nothing to do with fat. I suspect your situation is similar.

I'd say try to bulk up if you want to (although you look good in that pic and I'd love to be 5'8" 187). Also do a lot of ab exercises if you want firmer abs.


the only advice i can offer is to limit yourself to setting short term goals. gaining ten to twenty pounds, improving lift x by y amount of weight, etc. i've tried the whole, "i want to look like so and so" thing, but you realize really fast that it's extremely difficult.

i think you're on the right track. any of CW's programs work. there was an Excel spreadsheet circulating that had them all along with a suggested order by which they should be followed. if you don't have it, PM me with your e-mail, and i'll send it to you.

so to sum up, just eat a lot. don't worry so much about your fat now. set realistic short-term goals, eat a lot, keep your intensity in the gym up, and you'll be fine.


I only said I estimated my body fat because I have not had it measured professionally only using a web site where you enter multiple body measurements, I think it's 13 different measurements. My last measurements calculated around 18% body fat.

As for having a particular physique in mind for a goal, I know that every body's body develops differently and that I won't look like Ernie Sims or Brad Cardoza. But at least seeing a physique like theirs gives me some motivation and a visual reference for progress and body composition. You know what I mean?

Now when it comes to setting short term goals, what I'm having a problem with right now is an appropriate time frame, to gain 20 lbs, or lift X amount of wieght.

I've only been training for 6 months so I'm still building strength and muscle. I work out at home and I don't have alot of weight to work with or a spotter. Here's some of my lift stats, keep in mind I only have 150 lbs in weight right now.

BB Bench ~ 135
DL ~ 150
Squat ~ 150

As soon as I can afford to buy some more plates I will. I was supposed to get some plates from a friend but that didn't pan out.


Ill just add dont set the bar LOW on your goals even short term set them so you have to Kick ass and if you dont even if you do you might not make it. But keep pressing on if you dont. More IMO is learned from failure then any easy success.

Dont sell yourself short in other words. Anyone can do that. Youre new to training you can expect some fast gains if you workl hard. Even as much as 20lbs a month or more on lifts. etc. Add in strecthing, other recovery habits make the routine etc..

Have even smaller goals weekly to just get Better some how. One more rep. a second or two off a sprint time. One more lb of BW added. etc. ALWAYS aiming to progress or head somehow to that ultimate goal. But set that bar HIGH. If you reach it damn it set it higher.

Other than that more info would help all of us help you. Your training now, your weight, your diet. then that can be addressed and help set smaller goals that lead to the Big S.O.B.

Best of luck,
Hope that helps,


Thanks Phill very insightful. I'm not sure if I can share my diet because I'm part of the Cheaters Diet Final Test Group for Joel Marion, but I'm not sure if it's right for me now that I've decieded where I want to go with body building.

I know that one of my short term goals is to beable to bench my body weight, I think I could do that in a month, well that's at least my goal.

Right now I just finished my first week of CW's TBT the straight sets, and have noticed some reasonable strength gained and weakness I want to work on. For one my bench press is weak, 135lbs 3 reps and I'm done, I would like to get that up to at least 150 in two weeks.

Also chin ups, I can only do 3 un aided, then I have to use my feet and the bench to push myself. My goal is to beable to do 5 un-aided dead hangs by the end of this month.

I do eat well and clean, at least 6 times a day ,lots of lean meat, veggies, and fruit. Whole grain breads and pasta on ocassion and lots of water. Supplements include HOT-ROX Extreme, Protein Powder,multi-vitamins,CLA, Fish Oil, Flax Seed oil.

I feel great and see muscle being gained, I've never really had pecs and I'm starting to see some now. I currently weigh 187lbs at 5'8".


No prob and diet etc thats cool I understand that

OK here is a BIG problem IMO. dont "THINK" you can reach a goal OWN it KNOW it. Even daily dont go in the gym and say I "THINK" im going to set 5 reps with this weight announce it In GOING to get five reps and DO it do everything in your power to do so. Dont "THINK" you can do something that is setting up for failure from the start. There is area left for doubt.

Start to OWN you and what you are expecting you to do. Sure like in the last post sometimes you'll fail but thats ok learn from that fix that and dont fail next time. Aim High.



Thanks for the reminder about "thinking" I can meet a goal Phil. It is so true you have to know you can do it before you can do it. So with that said I WILL bench my body weight by the end of the month.


I have one more question . At 5'8" what is an ideal bodyweight? As I stated I'm currently 187 lbs, but I want to build more muscle, I wouldn't mind being 200lbs but at lower bodyfat around 9-12%. Would this be a good long term goal for body composition??



Environment, environment, environment.

Up until a month ago, I was working out at a good gym. I worked out as hard as I knew how to, and I made progress.

A month ago I moved to another city, and now I work out in a gym where the guy on the next platform snatches more than I back squat.

My strength levels and lifts are moving up like a hot air balloon. Who would have thought?


So you think I would make more progress if I worked out at a gym? I really cannot afford the time to do that right now. I do foster care and have anywhere from my 2 kids up to 6 kids total at home, right now I have 5 kids so the time I have to work out is after they go to bed.

And I live 30 mins from the closest gym, it's just not easy for me. I do plan on getting more equipment at home like a squat rack and at least another 200lbs in plates, an E-Z curl bar, a pull up bar, and I hope to get a place to do dips and such.


Cant tell you, no one really can. I can tell you ive net goals and thankfully I havnt been fully pleased yet, I set newq ones.

I say set the goal, go get the damn thing, then you tell us if 200 @ 9-12% is a good long term body comp goal. If your content to watch the rest of us still aim to get better while you accept, or if you have the desire to keep aiming higher.


Ok, I gotcha. What kind of time frame should I look at for acheiving this goal? This, like I said before is the problem I'm having. Being new at bodybuilding I have no idea what a realistic time frame is to gain 13lbs. 3 months, 4 months, 6 months? I'm guessing between 4-6 months.


WE, KNOW ONE can tell you.We arent you. we dont know how your body responds
how bad you want this, what you will do to reach it, hopw hard you'll work, will you devote much of your life to it?? How damn important is it. this is all for you bro.

I will say your getting NO WHERE pondering it this long. Set the damn goal set a date that you think might work make it a challange then go do everything you can to get that damn thing.

If you dont get it in time well breifly kick your own ass, evalute see where you went wrong. Dont dwell, piss and moan on it, Keep going get that damn thing.

Best of luck,