Nuts & Bolts Part 2 Ultra-basics: Goal Setting

Nuts & Bolts Part 2 Ultra-basics: Goal Setting

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The five bio-motor classifications: identify, define and improve

In order to improve human performance, regardless that assigned athletic task, we need to identify and then radically improve each of our five bio-motor abilities. Do so and athletic performance automatically improves. We have improvement strategies for every bio-motor skill. We seek to identify and improve upon these five physical abilities. Once we are able to identify a specific ability, we can then define that ability. Once we have identified and defined the ability, we can set about improving that ability. What are the five identifiable human abilities?

  • Strength
  • Speed
  • Endurance
  • Flexibility
  • Coordination
Strength power and torque: the ability to generate tremendous muscular force
Speed quickness: how quickly can we travel short distances
Endurance stamina: force output over longer distances and for longer times
Flexibility suppleness: we seek to optimize joint range-of-motion
Coordination summation of all attributes: developing efficient movement patterns

Bio-Motor Bar Graphs
Nuanced Attributes

There are five bio-motor attributes and within each attribute there exists a range of definable degrees, shades of effort that flow from one extreme to the other extreme. Imagine in each instance a long bar graph: on the extreme left of the graph we have pure white and as your eyes follow the bar graph, left to right, the pure white on the extreme left becomes increasingly grey and totally grey in the exact middle; the grey becomes increasingly darker until grey morphs into black and finally the blackest of black. These activities are then overlaid on the Bio-Motor bar graph.

Strength Bar Graph

Extreme Left Middle Extreme Right
Powerlifting Olympic weightlifting Kettlebell training
Absolute strength explosive strength strength endurance

Speed Bar Graph

Extreme Left Middle Extreme Right
40-100 meters 200-400 meters 800 meters
pure sprint/burst outer sprint limit speed/endurance

Endurance Bar Graph

Extreme Left Middle Extreme Right
Iron Man Triathlon 5k competitions MMA Training
Glide/fewest contractions classic cardio purposeful contractions

Agility Bar Graph

Extreme Left Middle Extreme Right
Defensive back line-backer nose tackle
Speed biased balanced power-biased

Flexibility Bar Graph

Extreme Left Middle Extreme Right
Yoga dance rock wall climbing
Flexibility at its purest flexibility with power intense effort + cardio

The 6th Bio-motor Skill: psychological recalibration

Extreme Left Middle Extreme Right
Psyche for training modifying habit force long-term adherence
Instantaneous sustained disciplined effort results generate momentum

Practical Programing

Determining the individual needs of the athlete

The competent programmer creates training regimens designed to increase power and strength and stamina while preventing or rehabilitating injury. The first duty of the able and facile programmer is to determine the athlete's exact needs. After absorbing the facts, data and idiosyncratic differentiations, the programmer constructs a training template, one that will enable the athlete to morph from what they are into what they seek to become. We do so incrementally and methodically; "creeping incremental-ism" deposits the athlete at the predetermined goal at the end of the allotted periodized timeframe – essentially transformed.

No one trains, diets, performs cardio or goes to the trouble to plan and periodize in order to stay the same: we train because we want to improve our physique and we want to improve our performance. One sure-fire way to improve performance is to improve the body. When we become stronger with increased stamina, when we are leaner and more muscular, performance in any and all athletic benchmarks automatically improves. When we look at the individual athlete, there are questions that need to be posed...

  • What is it we seek?
  • What is the goal?
  • Is that goal realistic?
  • How much time do we have?
  • What needs to be improved or corrected?
  • What is being done right that needs to be maintained?
  • What can we change that will bring marked improvement?

All elite athletes periodize: periodization sets goals into a timeframe then works backwards to a starting point. The periodized athlete ‘reverse engineers' a plan based on the intended result and the amount of time allotted. To understand periodization we start by quantifying time...

  • Macrocycle the overall length of the periodized cycle, usually many months
  • Mesocycle the largest subdivision within the Macrocycle, a single month
  • Microcycle further subdivision of time within the Mesocyle, a week

The most basic form of periodization is linear periodization. The classical linear periodization model is a 12-week macrocycle that contains three, four-week mesocycles and twelve one-week microcycles. Categories are created and placed in vertical columns. Each week has replanned performance goals for exercises. Periodization tactics need not be confined to weight training.

Linear Template

In our first hypothetical example, the individual commences the cycle with a 200-pound squat, a 150-pound bench press, a 300-pound deadlift and a 100-pound overhead press. How would we lay out a 12-week periodized game plan for such an individual? When studying the chart, keep in mind that the set listed in the box is only performed after taking as many warm-up sets (usually 2-3) as needed.

Marty Gallagher RAW Linear Template Chart

This template can be modified and utilized regardless of current strength level.


  • All lifts start off at approximately 50% to 65% of current max
  • All lifts end up roughly 15% to 25% above current max
  • All lifts utilize pristine technique
  • Optional: In early phases, multiple top sets can be used
  • Never start off too high or too low

Advanced Athlete Periodized Cycle

Let's assume the athlete is heading into training camp in three months. Currently he has a 350-pound squat, a 300-pound bench press, a 400-pound deadlift and a 180-pound overhead press.

Marty Gallagher RAW Linear Template Chart 2

  • The stronger the athlete, the smaller the % increases at cycles end
  • Small weekly poundage jumps work best
  • These periodization charts are basic; many sophisticated variations exist
  • Other factors can be periodized: bodyweight, calories, cardio modes, etc.

Create Your Own Linear Periodized Training Template

In a nutshell, the way to periodize or "cycle" any lift is as follows...

  • Create a realistic goal
  • Establish a realistic timeframe
  • Reverse engineer: work backwards with a calendar
  • Place realistic goals within a specified timeframe
  • Work backwards to establish weekly benchmarks
  • Every 3-4 weeks alter the variables in anticipation of stagnation
  • When instituting changes, make change dramatic, not minor

Cycle anything: How to cycle bodyweight and cardio...

Let us assume a 195-pound male is athletic, but slightly out-of-shape coming off the winter holidays; he wants to take ten weeks to lean out and shape up. His previous deadlift best is 385 x 1 weighing 200 pounds. He will commence the cycle with a 15% body fat percentile and at the end of ten weeks he will have whittled that down to a 10% body fat percentile weighing 180 pounds.

Marty Gallagher RAW Linear Template Chart 3

In ten weeks time our hypothetical individual has morphed from a soft 195 into a rock hard 180 pounds. His deadlift, a great overall strength indicator, has leapt upward by a full 10%, from 385 to 415 for 1. A new personal best: despite being 25-pounds lighter than when he pulled his 385 previous best. He regains his cardio condition by tweaking his run durations and upping weekly frequency and intensity. The percentage in the duration column is the blended-session heart rate average obtained by wearing a heart rate monitor. Each week our athlete gets a little leaner, a little lighter, in a little bit better shape and becomes fitter. Coordinate the training with a diet that compliments and supports the physical demands of result producing lifting and running.

Linear Periodization: Strategies, principles and examples

Generally speaking, Linear Periodized cycles last between 6-12 weeks. The idea is to lower the repetitions as the intensity (poundage) is increased over the life of the cycle. The combination of decreasing reps combined with successively heavier training poundage forces the body to adapt and grow: grow more muscle and grow stronger. Initially, higher reps are done with lesser poundage. At the beginning of the cycle we seek to create maximum muscle hypertrophy. In the final phases, leading up to a competition, absolute strength is peaked.

About the Author
As an athlete Marty Gallagher is a national and world champion in Olympic lifting and powerlifting. He was a world champion team coach in 1991 and coached Black's Gym to five national team titles. He's also coached some of the strongest men on the planet including Kirk Karwoski when he completed his world record 1,003 lb. squat. Today he teaches the US Secret Service and Tier 1 Spec Ops on how to maximize their strength in minimal time. As a writer since 1978 he’s written for Powerlifting USA, Milo, Flex Magazine, Muscle & Fitness, Prime Fitness, Washington Post, Dragon Door and now IRON COMPANY. He’s also the author of numerous books including Purposeful Primitive, Strong Medicine, Ed Coan’s book “Coan, The Man, the Myth, the Method" and numerous others. Read the Marty Gallagher biography here.