Ensuring you have a clear and achievable set of fitness goals when you start out on your journey is vitally important. Not only does it help you have targets to aim for when exercising, but it also helps keep you going, returning to the gym day after day, or heading out into the night for those winter runs.
Without goals, your fitness regime will lose focus and it’s more than likely that you’ll either lose interest and give up or even hurt yourself by doing the wrong sort of exercise. Keep reading to discover exactly how to set your fitness goals, why it’s important and what methods you can use to ensure you get the most out of them.
Why is Setting Fitness Goals Important?
Setting fitness goals is one of the best things you can do to help you get what you want from your exercise regime. It’s proven to help you pick the right actions, put in more effort and keep you motivated over time.
Having a clear set of fitness goals will help you achieve whatever it is you want to achieve – whether that’s to lose weight, build muscle, train for a specific event or anything else. They’ll help you push through fatigue, tiredness or uncertainty as you’ve got those goals to focus on, giving you a clear purpose behind your workouts.
Making sure these targets stay achievable is absolutely essential as well. Too many of us set out on a fitness journey with completely unattainable targets in mind, only to fall off the wagon when we don’t achieve them, doing more harm than good in the long run.
The Psychology of Fitness Goals
It’s almost always the mind that gives up on a fitness goal before the body does and so getting yourself psychologically prepared and in the right mind set to work towards those goals. One of the most important factors to consider is that you need to be committed to those goals in order to achieve them This may seem obvious, but ensuring that commitment is not as easy as you may first think.
One of the best ways to manage this is to make sure that the fitness goals that you’re aiming for apply to you and your life. This is because your commitment to anything in life will always be greater when you genuinely believe it’s important. For example, if one of your loved ones is suffering from cancer, then you are far more likely to support cancer charities than any other because it is an issue that is directly affecting you.
Secondly, you’ve got to make each of your fitness goals your own. Copying from any number of generic plans that are available may be easy, but it’s unlikely to have the same effect. This is because you were not engaged in the decision and the creation of these goals. It’s important to keep reminding yourself of why your specific goals are important to you. This will increase your commitment to your fitness goals, significantly improving your results.
How to Set Fitness Goals
While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to working out the best way to set your fitness goals, there are a number of tricks you can try out and see which works best for you.
Tackle them one at a Time
Firstly, it’s important not to try and focus on too many goals at once. By keeping one clear objective in your head, you’ll stay focused and motivated, making it much more likely that you’ll achieve what you set out to do. If you do have more than one goal in mind, then it’s important you tackle them each individually as the confidence you gain from successfully completing one, will help you in achieving the next, and so on and so forth.
Make your Goals Important to you
As we’ve already mentioned, when setting your fitness goals, it’s really important that they are important to you. Looking through social media, it’s easy feel envious of the apparently super-fit and try to replicate them in every way. This won’t necessarily work, however. It’s important you make sure that your fitness goal is exactly that – yours. If it’s something that’s genuinely important to you, then you’re much more likely commit to it and achieve it.
Make your Goal Specific, Measurable and Time Critical
When setting your fitness goals, you’ve got to make sure that firstly, you can measure them. It’s no good saying “I want to lose weight”, “I want to be able to run further”, or “I want to lift heavier weights.” Instead you need to put numbers next to that: “I want to lose 10lbs”, “I want to run 10km”, “I want to be able to lift 80kg” etc.
To make these specific, you also need to add a deadline. When do you want to have achieved these goals by? It’s all very well saying you want to be able to run 10km, non-stop, but without a deadline, you’ll lack focus and direction. If, however, you say you want to be able to run 10km non-stop by the end of the year, it allows you to build a deliberate, focused and structured plan for achieving your goals. Furthermore, time pressure can create a sense of urgency that can add extra motivation.
Aim low to Begin with
While you shouldn’t make any goal too easy, it should certainly be achievable. If you make it too difficult to manage, then the likelihood of achieving it goes down, which causes demoralisation and could potentially do even more harm in the long run. You should be confident of achieving your goals when you set out towards them and as you get fitter, stronger or lighter, you can aim a bit higher each time.
Unfortunately, when it comes to fitness and health you need to play the long game. You’ll never achieve your targets in a week or a month – unless they really are easy, in which case you need to aim just that little bit higher. Be patient, however, stick at it and you will be rewarded with success.
Take Baby Steps
As part of being patient and not aiming too high with your goals to begin with, another way to help you set achievable goals is to include so-called ‘micro-goals’ between each major goal. This gives you a stepping-stone-like approach to each goal, giving you mini-wins on the way to each major win. For Example, if you’re aiming to be able to run 10km non-stop, first aim to run 2km non-stop and once you can do that regularly, move on to running 4km and so on until you get to 10km.
What are the 5 SMART Fitness Goals?
A handy mnemonic for remembering how to structure your fitness goals is SMART. This stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Making sure your fitness goals meet each one of these criteria is critical to your success.
You need to ensure that each of your goals is specific. It’s not enough to say you just want to get fitter, or get healthier. You need to set out what you’re going to do to achieve those goals, such as “I’m going to run 10km non-stop by the end of the year.”
If you can’t measure your goal then how do you know if you’ve managed it or not. So if you want to lose 10lbs by the middle of the year for example, you need to know where you’ve started and a keep a record of your progress. This will allow you to know when you’ve achieved your original goal and when you can move on to your next one!
This one is incredibly important. If you aim too high or try and do too much at once then you’re almost certain to fail to achieve your goal within a certain time frame or at all. This is why you need to be realistic with what you’re able to do and to only try and go for one goal at a time. Otherwise, you’ll lose focus and potentially fail to hit your targets.
With any goal, it’s important to realise why you want to do this. Are you in training for a specific competition? Are you losing weight for a certain event such as your wedding or do you just want to be healthier? These are all perfectly valid reasons to want to lose weight or get fitter, but they need to be relevant to you to make you commit fully to them.
A little bit of time pressure when setting out your fitness goals is no bad thing. It gives you a time frame in which to produce a specific plan of how you’re going to achieve each goal. Just saying you want to lose a certain amount of weight is no good, but if you give yourself a time frame in which to achieve that, you’re far more likely to achieve it.
What are Some Common Fitness Goals?
As mentioned already, your fitness goals need to be completely personal to you and you need to have your own reasons for wanting to achieve them to be more likely to be successful. There are, however, a few common goals that we can share with you.
The desire to lose weight is common among many of us, whether you just want to shift a couple of pounds or you feel like you need to lose a bit more, it’s often a worthwhile pursuit. It is important to remember the SMART principles detailed previously when setting these targets, however. Make sure you know how much you want to lose, when you want to lose it by and, critically, why it is you want to lose the weight.
Similarly, wanting to be able to run a certain distance non-stop, or lift a certain weight, or run a distance in a certain time. You need to apply all of these principles to these goals and make sure you are wanting to achieve them for the right reasons.
Sticking to your Goals
Coming up with the goals in the first place is the easy bit. Sticking with it and achieving those goals is where it gets tricky. If you structure your goal setting properly – as has been set out here – then that should make it significantly easier.
Having a support network is always useful as they will help keep you motivated along your fitness journey, especially if there’s someone you can work out with who has a similar goal to you. This means you can support each other on your journeys and help keep one another motivated, with a little bit of competition adding an extra edge to things
Consider Hiring a Personal Trainer
Personal trainers are a fantastic resource and each Everyone Active centre has plenty of fully qualified PTs on hand to help you reach your goals. Not only do they help keep you motivated, but they’ll help you get more out of your workout.
This is because they make sure you’re exercising correctly, both in terms of giving you a programme that will help you reach your fitness goals, but also by helping you perform each exercise properly. They will also help ensure you don’t get bored by mixing up your exercise regime when you need it.