Is it practical to set multiple goals at the same time (ex. getting stronger on a cut ) or just attack one with fervor?
The go to example of attacking one with fervor
This is an excellent question, because it demonstrates the somewhat multi-leveled approach one needs to take in training. Philosophically, I believe one should set their mind to a very small number of goals, and, if one undertakes more than one goal, the goals should be related/self serving. My prime example, of course, would be getting bigger and stronger. Those two goals SHOULD go together, and in fact, only the internet believes you will somehow do one without the other, but that is of course another discussion. What one does not want to do is undertake far too many goals (bigger, stronger, faster, leaner, better, more conditioned, etc) OR undertake a limited amount of goals that explicitly contradict each other (get bigger and smaller).
That having been said, I do not feel one should accept loss in other areas, let alone EXPECT it. Can losses occur in other areas while we focus on one goal? Absolutely; that is the give and take of training. However, when trainees set out already under the impression that they WILL experience losses in certain areas, it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, to the point that failures occur way sooner than they should. Much like a woman who becomes pregnant and starts "showing" at 4 weeks because they've been eating everything in sight, you have trainees that decide they're absolutely going to lose strength on a cut, and experience RAPID strength plummets within the first 2 days of reduced calories. They approach the training with failure on their mind and refuse to fight tooth and nail to hang onto as much as they possibly can.
If nothing else, refusing to give up can make for an interesting movie
I know I'm a broken record about this stuff, but your mind has SO much impact on your body. As much as we want to believe everything is biological, we observe time and time again how important the mind is to bodily processes. Some folks beat unbeatable cancers because they come in like a warrior, other folks die from the flu because they give up and let it win. It's the same thing in training. A trainee that takes on a task and decides that they WILL NOT lose anything while they make progress is going to end up in a far better position than one that decides that, because they are focused on one, others will fall.
So, to sum up; don't spread yourself too thin, but don't believe that you have to suffer.
What are your opinions on goal hijacking ? A trainee sets out with the goal to to accomplish one thing but others convince them (usually on forums lol) to accomplish something else . Ex. a trainee wanting to look good for the beach but is convinced he needs to bulk to get a 315 squat for five reps lol and forget the beach .
It's not like I even had to make this comic
This, of course, speaks to the toxicity of forums and why I am so opposed to them as a medium of information exchange. Yes, I hang out on reddit and t-nation, but rarely am I there to learn vs to try to teach or just kill some time.
People hijack your goals because your goals threaten their worldview. People want YOU to conform to THEM, because it's more comfortable for one to believe that they are right and everyone else is wrong vs engaging in some introspection and realizing that maybe they don't know as much as they think. No one is hijacking your goals due to altruism or any actual concern for your wellbeing. Such activity would be pretentious and condescending at BEST; for who is anyone to decide what is in your best interest? So, in any situation, someone hijacking your goals is not looking out for your best interest.
They aren't here to save your soul
Hijacking METHOD is a different argument though. Many times, trainees set out with a goal and then decide to pick a plan that in no way will help them reach it. How many times do we see someone pick up Starting Strength when they want to look better? Or pick up running when their goal is to lose weight? In such situations, it's quite possible that altruism does come into play; that someone sees a trainee making a mistake in the execution of their plan, and they want to point them in the right direction.
However, we still arrive at an issue here; anyone seeking the aid of the internet is one who truly does not care about the outcome of their efforts. Think about it; in any other situation, you scale degrees of success linearly with the qualifications of the assistance received. If I want a 0% success rate on having my oil changed on my car, I take my car to a swarm of wasps. If I want a 50% chance, I take it to a high school kid with an owner's manual. If I want a near 100% chance, I take it to a mechanic. It's the same thing with your fitness goals. If you REALLY want to succeed, you find a qualified coach/instructor/whatever, pay them their fee or read their book and follow their method. If you want a pretty good shot, you find the local big dude at your gym and follow his advice. You want to fail? Go to the swarm of angry wasps that is the internet. Everyone's voice is equally loud, and you have to dig DEEP if you want to find qualifications. Weak people love to hide behind the whole "just because I don't lift much doesn't mean I don't know what I'm talking about" (sorry for the triple negative), and a lost newb on the internet might just believe that nonsense.
So, to sum this one up: Never let anyone hijack your goals. However, if your method is screwed up, eat some humble pie and do what it takes to reach your goals. If you're married to your method, then change your goals. HOWEVER, never trust the internet anyway.
Thanks for the questions. Keep them coming!