Weight Training Goals

In the past, I’ve had some workout goals, but they mainly had to do with endurance. When I was around 20 years old, it was to complete a 185-mile bike ride.  Check. When I was 21, my goal was to complete another 185-mile bike ride. Check.  And at this same time my goal was to complete a 10 K race. Check.

10 K Race

Me and a friend after the 185-mile bike ride...exhausted!

When I was 22, I began to have a lot of IT Band issues with my leg and could no longer run.  I was very sad, almost depressed without my morning runs.  But, life goes on.  After I was done with the pity party I threw myself, I began to realize that there are other workout goals you can have besides racing.  I also realized that it’s a complete waste of time to sit and think about all the things you CANT do.  So, I began spending my time with things I COULD do, and wouldn’t ya know, my enthusiasm towards my workouts came back 😉

I began to shift my focus to lifting weights and getting STRONG. This was pretty new to me.  Sure, I had tossed around some dumbbells and did random crunches and curls, but I had never seriously lifted.  I never had the guts to see how much I could bench press or squat and more importantly, I didn’t have the guts to venture into the ‘meat head’ section of my university’s rec center.


My interest really peaked from reading Oxygen Magazine and seeing the stunning physiques they had on display each month.  I have always known that I will never be a stick figure model and have never tried to be one.  I also enjoy food too much to try  to be skinnier than my body wants to be. I find a fit physique much more attractive and knew that it was the goal for me: to become stronger and shapelier with heavy strength training. I wanted to ADD muscle to my physique, not waste it away.   It was a real turning point for me in regards to my body image.   Lifting weights made such a positive impact on me and how I view my body.  Each time I could add another weight plate to my deadlift or squat, I was proud of what my body was able to achieve.  This also made me want to feed my body appropriately to aid in muscle growth.

Figure Competitor, Kristal Richardson


Pretty soon I was reading up on strength training every day and finally ventured into the “meat head” section of the gym to try my hand at benching, squatting, and deadlifting.   I would study the form before I went to the gym so I didn’t look like a complete newbie when I began my sets. A few weeks after I started my weight workouts, I was completely comfortable tossing the weights around with the muscle-bound college guys.  I even became a “regular” and felt respected.  I became completely dedicated to my workouts and could not wait to set personal records for my lifts!

My point of this story is to talk about the importance of weight training goals.

I see so many people lifting weights (either in person or reading others’ blogs) with really no direction or reasoning as to why they are doing it.  I don’ t look down on people who just go into the weight room and do random exercises, but I would like to try my best to enlighten you on what I have discovered about weight training.

First, it’s important to have a GOAL.

  • What do you want out of your strength training workout?
  • Do you want to add muscle and gain strength?
  • Do you want to maintain your current strength level?
  • Or are you looking to do circuit style weight training (which is really cardio)?

You’ll need a schedule

Once you have a goal in mind, then you need to ask yourself how much time a week you are willing to commit to your strength training workouts. When my goal was to add muscle and increase my strength, I was fully committed.  I dropped back on cardio (because too much cardio is counterproductive to adding muscle) and upped my strength training to 4 days per week using an upper/lower split.

Less is More!

I have been working out consistently for almost a decade and can tell you that the biggest thing I have learned is less is more! You do not have to do 15-20 different exercises per workout, nor do you have to do cardio every single day.  Believe me, been there and done that! I gained the most strength while doing the least amount of cardio and of course eating more to give my body proper fuel and nutrients to be able to build muscle.

Here is an example Upper-Lower Split I have done in the past:

Day 1: Upper Body

  • Bench Press  4 sets x 6 reps
  • Lat Pull Down 4 x 6
  • Overhead Dumbbell Press  3 x 12
  • Seated Cable Row 3 x 12
  • Bicep Curls 3 x 12

Day 2: Lower Body

  • Squat 4 x 6
  • Stiff Leg Dead Lift 3 x 12
  • Reverse Lunges 3 x 12
  • Hamstring Curl Machine 3 x 12
  • Ab exercise 3 x 12

Day 3: OFF/Rest Day

Day 4: Upper Body

  • Barbell Bent Over Row: 4 x 6
  • Military Press: 4 x 6
  • Pull Ups/Assisted Pull Ups 3 x 12
  • Push Ups: 3 x 12
  • Tricep Push Down 3 x 12

Day 5: Lower Body

  • Conventional Deadlift 4 x 6
  • Stationary Lunge  3 x 12
  • Leg Extensions 3 x 12
  • Hamstring Curl using Stability Ball 3 x 12
  • Abs 3 x 12

Day 6 and 7: OFF/Rest

For detailed descriptions of any of these exercises, please see this website! It’s great!

As you can see, I only do 5 exercises per day.  The most I would do would be 6.  Sometimes I would do only 4 exercises.  It’s quality over quantity.  Sure, it does not look like much. But I promise that if you really challenge yourself and lift heavy, you will get in a great workout.

The way I choose my exercises is simple. I do the most basic, and functional lifts. I choose from these exercises:

  • Squat
  • Chest Press
  • Lunge
  • Shoulder Press
  • Dead lift
  • Hamstring Curl
  • Row
  • Pull down

You can mix any of these exercises up by switching from barbells to dumbbells, changing your grip, changing the incline, changing the reps or sets, etc.   But I always do a type of all the exercises listed above.

I throw in ab exercises and isolation exercises only if I want to. Your biceps and triceps will be worked from the compound movements (movements using more than one muscle, such as a bent over row), so really, you don’t have to spend a full day committed to your biceps and triceps 😉  If you do choose to do isolation movements (tricep kickbacks, bicep curls), throw them in at the end of your workout after you have done the heavier lifts.

The reason I say I choose “functional” lifts is because I want the lifting to help me in every day life.  What does standing on a Bosu ball doing bicep curls help you do in real life? Eh, not much. When during your day do you stand on half of a stability ball?

On the other hand, look at the deadlift. What does a deadlift help you do?  It emulates picking something heavy from off the ground…which people do every day.   Same with squatting and over head pressing.  We do those basic movements every day, so I think it’s a good idea to do exercises that imitate that.  I am not looking down upon those of you who DO use a Bosu ball by any means.  I just want to talk about how it is important to understand WHY you are doing a certain exercise.  Just my honest opinion on strength training 🙂

A type of deadlift


Lifting heavy is not the workout for everyone, but I really think it’s important to challenge yourselves.  If you are lifting the same 15lb dumbbells each week with ease, then increase! I guarantee you are stronger than you think!  And don’t be afraid to EAT! If your goal is to gain muscle, you need to eat and eat a lot.  It takes a lof of extra calories to gain muscle mass, especially as women.   Also, make sure to schedule rest days each week, its important not only for recovery, but for muscle growth.


**What are your current strength training goals?

My strength goals at the moment are to maintain my current level of strength with two full body workouts per week,  although I have been toying with the idea about getting back to a more structured routine, such as an upper/lower split….stay tuned!

16 responses to “Weight Training Goals

  1. Good post! I have just recently gotten back into strength training because I want to tone up my whole body a little more. I try for 3 days a week of training. It’s been going well so far!

  2. All such wonderful information! I miss challenging myself with weight lifting. It definitely is a fun way to watch your body change for the better and leave you feeling strong. And thanks for putting it out there about the need for functional movements and how the isolation moves aren’t as important.

  3. Hey, I am a new follower and I want to say that I love your blog. So much information! 🙂 I am getting into weight training and a cardio mix…I am sort of trying Body for Life – the 40/40/20 diet and the weight lifting exercise/HIIT. I don’t want to bulk up, so I am sticking to super sets instead of the decreasing reps as weight goes up. I am also not lifting as often as is prescribed in the BFL plan. I take fitness classes that I count as weight days and cardio days. For example, bodypump is weight day (I do it on Monday and Saturday). On Tues, Friday, and Saturday I have BodyJam (like Zumba) – that’s my cardio. Thursday I have BodyCombat or Pilates and some HIIT. Friday I also do Spinning if time allows. I do yoga 1-3 times per week. On Wednesdays I have dance class, but once the summer comes I will be doing Spinning and some core classes. I love the change in my workouts because I hate getting stuck in a rut.

    However, I do have some questions about food intake. I have started to eat about 100-120 grams of protein a day for this BFL thing. I am wondering if I am getting too much for my daily activity level/exercise. I see that I am building muscle mass, but I also wanted to be trim and lean (especially in the stomach area). By no means am I overweight or even pudgy, but my abs could be a bit more defined. I feel the muscle underneath…maybe I just need more cardio sessions, like HIIT. What do you think?

    Sorry to bombard you with all of this…but, I figured since you are a gym guru..you might have some answers/advice. 🙂

    • Hi Katie, thanks for reading!

      Feel free to email me for further info, but I’ll share some basic thoughts that I think are important for everyone:

      First, I think that if you are going to follow a program like BFL I think it’s important to follow it in it’s entirety. It’s OK to tweak SOME things, but it looks as though you are not following much of it. I am not too familiar with the program, but I think lifting is an important aspect of it.

      Second, you will not bulk up. It’s very difficult for a woman to bulk up, unless they are really trying to gain mass by eating a LOT more to aid in muscle growth. Plus, with the amount of cardio you do, I am going to say it’s pretty impossible you are adding enough muscle to “bulk”.

      Third, Body Pump is a great class, but in my opinion it’s more cardio in nature, since it’s higher rep and pretty much non stop. You do not lift heavy enough in those types of classes to see real substantial gains in muscle mass.

      Lastly, your diet is what is going to help you lean down, not cardio. I know you mentioned that you want you abs to be the leaner, but you can not spot reduce any part of your body.

      Hope this helps! Shoot me an email if you have any more questions! 🙂

      • Thanks so much!

        This does help…and I have decided to nix the BFL thing. It just doesn’t work for my lifestyle and I HATE being so tied down and limited. I was getting too obsessive with it. I don’t want to have to count every protein and carb gram that goes into my mouth. I will just continue with my exercise and eat healthfully. I see that you don’t really obsess and you are looking fit and happy and healthy! Too much obsessing leads to failure. I have had a past experience with an eating disorder and I don’t want to go down that road again of being limited and obsessive.

      • Good, I am glad you are doing what feels right for you. Sometimes following a program can be a great thing for those who need direction. But if someone has a history of getting obsessive with numbers (esp. regarding calories, fat grams, carbs, etc) it can trigger those obsessive thoughts again.

        I absolutely DON’T obsess about food or workouts. That is why I have not done a real structured routine in a while…sometimes its nice to just wake up and do what you feel like doing that day! Same with food 🙂

      • BFL doesnt actually tell you to count macros/calories. It simply says to have a portion of protein and a portion of carbs at every meal.

  4. umm how come u look so good after exercise!! and ur friend too!! lol LUCKY!

    thanks for the advice and the dif training techniques! love this so much!

  5. Awesome post Lindsey. And wow wow wow to your 185 mile bike ride – what an achievement!
    I usually pick up a few compound moves and rotate them around as well. I am currently maintaining and doing whole body workouts.

  6. Can you talk a little about how you trained for you 185 mile bike ride?

    • I WISH I had great info on training, but to tell you the truth, I actually didn’t train…!!! I taught spinning classes and that was it!

      I do not recommend not training for events…it’s probably why I started to develop IT band issues.

  7. great info as always! and an 185 mile bike ride?! HOly girl, you rock. I never knew that about you!

    My goal right now is to maintain–once Im done with Making the Cut (which I did to spice things up at the gym–i was bored) I plan on doing 2-3 fullbody workouts a week!

  8. What an awesome post 🙂 So funny that you talk about all of this, because I have been trying to incorporate more strength training/ weight training into my daily CARDIO filled workout- I have noticed a difference already! I was doing weights like everyday after cardio, but only for like 15-20 minutes- I didn’t know you can really get a GOOD workout just doing weight training…(my obession with MUST run every workout in order to have a good workout is starting to diminish :)) I actually found a good plan to use – it’s a 12 week plan from bodybuilding.com- do you use that site?? I’m going to look into the one that you posted as well- for some new ideas 🙂

  9. Pingback: Total Body Workout: Giant Sets |

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