If you want to make progress with your fitness or weight loss, you need to have a goal. Otherwise, how will you measure your progress and know that you've succeeded? We take a look at how to set fitness goals and importantly, how to achieve them.
What is a SMART goal for fitness?
The most common and successful way to set a goal for fitness (or for anything for that matter) is to create a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and with a Time frame. By creating a SMART goal, you will avoid making unrealistic and unspecific goals which may not be achievable, and will help you to create an excellent goal that will get you where you want to be. By creating a SMART goal you are almost guaranteeing yourself success and you will be able to better assess your progress as you go.
What is an example of a long term fitness goal?
There are two types of goal: long term and short term. A short term goal is one which you aim to achieve in a relatively short space of time, perhaps within 3 months. A long term fitness goal is one which you will continue to tweak and work on progressively for an extended period of time, such as 1-3 years.
An example of a long term fitness goal would be to go from being overweight to completing a marathon in 3 years. You would need lots of short term goals in between, such as completing a couch to 5k programme, successfully completing a 10k, a half marathon, losing an amount of weight, eating better etc. By creating short term goals, you break down the long term goal and make it far more manageable. This will aid your chances of success and keep you focused and motivated the entire time.
SMART goals for weight loss examples
Having the goal to 'lose weight' is far too broad and you are very unlikely to succeed in it. There is no time frame so you won't know when you've achieved it, and there is no measurement so it could go on indefinitely as your weight fluctuates up and down. An example of a SMART goal for weight loss would be:
"I will lose 10kg in 6 months by running 3 times a week and going to the gym twice a week. Once I have achieved this goal, I will treat myself to a new set of activewear in a smaller size."
This is an example of a SMART goal as it is very specific, it is measurable because you can weigh yourself each month to make sure you're on track, it is achievable as that is a healthy amount of weight to lose in that time, it is realistic, and it has a time frame of 6 months. It even includes a reward at the end for extra motivation.
Examples of SMART goals for strength training
Another example of a bad goal is to say 'I want to tone up'. This is extremely vague and ambiguous and you are unlikely to ever achieve it. An example of a SMART goal for strength training would be:
"I will increase my squat weight from 30kg to 50kg in 3 months by following a strength training programme and lifting 4 times a week."
This SMART goal is specific as it includes specific weights, it is measurable as you can measure the weights you use and keep track by writing down your progress each week, it is achievable, it is realistic as that is not a crazy amount of weight to increase by in the time, and it has a time frame of 3 months. You will know for sure if and when you have achieved your goal and can therefore be proud of yourself once you have accomplished it.
How can I achieve my fitness goals?
Staying motivated can be tough, especially for those who have made a fitness goal as a new year resolution. One of the most important things when trying to achieve a fitness goal is consistency. If you start going for a run every morning but then can't maintain it and stop after 2 weeks, you will never achieve your goal. You need to start gradually and make fitness a part of your every day lifestyle. By adding an exercise regime into your daily routine, you will be able to stay consistent and have a better chance of succeeding. Sometime it just takes sheer willpower and determination, so remember why you started and have an end goal and incentive in mind. Perhaps it's buying yourself new fitness clothing or taking yourself on a spa day, whatever it is, it could help you to stay on track and stay focused.