How To Create Fitness Goals That Actually Work
Everyone in the gym has a dream to get fitter. You also have a dream, and that’s why you push yourself to lift more, train harder, and eat better every day. But have you wondered if there was a better way then by using sheer willpower and determination?
What if we told you that there was a way to simplify your aspirations, clarify your ambitions, and amplify your efforts? What if we told you how to set a goal that enabled you to reach these ideals that you have in your head? Because the truth is that dreams are plentiful but goals are powerful.
The best way to keep yourself accountable to your plan to keep fit and lose weight is create goals. Goals are your dreams written down. Let’s look at how you can create good fitness goals that work. Goals are for those who want their dreams to be reality.
Create S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Dreams are unlikely to happen. If you have a dream of being fit, of losing weight, of bulking up, you will most likely hold on to that dream while your waistline bulges and your athleticism diminishes. A vague concept in the back of your mind simply will not work. Dreams don’t keep you in the gym.
Your fitness goal is likely to succeed. It’s likely to give you the results you want. It’s likely to show you that you can actually enjoy the fruits of your labour.
But that only happens if you can create good goals. A good goal shows you the path to get from where you are now to where you want to be. A good goal has a finish line. A good goal has progression steps. A good goal is reality-based. A good goal is one that you create for yourself and not one that someone else made for you or that you read on some website.
A good goal is a smart goal. Actually, it’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal:
Unless your goal is this detailed, it’s likely not going to work, so let’s talk about how to create a “smart” goal.
"I want to get fit"
"I want to lose weight"
"I want bigger muscles"These are not goals. And the reason they’re not goals is because they aren’t specific. They are vague intentions that you can’t really understand. How can you know that you’re fit? How do you know that you’ve lost weight?
Get specific with your goals. This is an actual finish line that you can determine if you’ve achieved it or not. It gives you a target to aim for, because unless you aim for something, you’ll miss every time. Einstein said that unless you can explain it to a 5-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself. Get extremely specific on your goals. Have it clear in your own head and easy enough to explain to anybody around you.
Your goals have to be phrased and identified in a such a way that you can put a measuring stick on it. Let’s use the example of becoming fit.
Although many people have the notion that they would like to get fitter, you should use a number to quantify your results.
- I would like to lose 3 stone.
- I would like to bench press 150 kgs
- I want to run a 10K in under an hour
These goals have a number attached to them, making it easy to see how you are progressing. Spend some time coming up with a realistic number, and keep this in mind during your training. If you want to be fit enough to run that 10K in under an hour, you can test yourself every 2 weeks, seeing how close you are to that 60 minute mark. Every time you come to a bench press during training, you could measure how close you are to putting 150 kgs in the air.
Your goal must be realistic. I could not make a goal of running the 100 metre sprint in under 10 seconds. That’s not an achievable goal for me, much less 99% of the population.
Find a goal that works for you. This is where you have to become aware of your limitations and what you cannot hope to accomplish. Setting a goal that’s too high will demoralize you when you can’t achieve it. It will have the opposite effect and cause you to quit or never even try because you can’t attain it.
The opposite side of the spectrum is also true. Don’t set a goal that’s too low and too easy to achieve. It’s demotivating to create an easy goal that requires no effort on your part. Your goal should require effort from you, continuous dedication that demonstrates that you are improving.
Are your goals your own? Do they apply to you at this moment in your life? If you find a goal from a website or a magazine, you won’t have the inner drive to own it. It’s a good goal, but it’s someone else’s good goal. Their work ethic won’t push you to spend another 15 minutes in training or restrict yourself from taking a second helping at dinner.
This is a good tip for those who have workout partners. Their goals are NOT your goals. Your goals keep you motivated, incentivized, and pushing to realize it. You can cheer each other on, but you have to cheer for their goals while also reaching for your own.
Lastly, make a goal that has a time limit attached to it. This will help you breakdown the steps to see your goal become reality.
- I want to lose 30 kgs of fat this calendar year
- I will gain 10 kgs of muscle in 3 months
- I will build my deadlifts to 180 kgs in 9 months
Now you know what it’s going to take to reach that goal. If you’re planning on losing weight, break down that goal into manageable chunks of time. 30 kilograms over a year is 2.5 kilos per month or 575 grams a week. Now you can work out what it will take to reach that goal each week and each month to see your goal come to pass. What will you do? You’ll create a healthy calorie deficit. You’ll spend 3 mornings a week in the gym, training hard to reach your weekly goal.
See how that timeframe starts to clarify your plan for the future? See how much clearer the path compared to your vague goal to lose some weight at some point in the future?
How To Track your Progress
Now you have a S.M.A.R.T. goal, so what are you going to do now?
You’re going to track everything. You’re going to write down everything you do from here on in to keep yourself on track for your goals.
If you’re managing your weight, track the numbers on the scale every week to create some data on your progress. Keep a log of your eating habits in a food journal. Record your lifts at the gym to see your improvements there.
Tracking your progress allows you to better see your progress over time, giving you a wide-angle view of your goals. It also gives you some incredible encouragement on the days when you just aren’t feeling it. Have a look back over your tracked progress to see just how far you’ve come.
Make Your Goals Public
Although it helps to have a goal that is yours, is timed, and is realistic, you might still need some help in keeping it. That’s where accountability comes in. It’s time to make your goal public.
You are 4 times more likely to accomplish your goals if you choose to make them public. If someone else knows what you’re trying to achieve, you have another tool in your arsenal to help you get over the edge. By making it public, you are forced to make it defined, to push past your comfort zone, and get others to cheer on your success.
Also, when you publicly reach your goal, it gives weight to your achievement. The congratulations you receive translate to validating all the work you have put in.
Bonus Tip: Create a Negative Consequence
You are conditioned to either chase pleasure or run away from pain. Some experts say that all your choices revolve around this pain vs. pleasure incentive. Now that you’ve learned how to create the optimal conditions to chase the pleasure of achieving your goals, there is one further tip that some people rely on to give them an extra advantage.
Make a negative consequence for failing. There are a number of ways to do this. You can use a site like Stickk that automatically donates money to a charity you don’t like if you fail to reach your goals. Or you could make a bet with your workout partner. The more you dread the negative outcome, the more motivation you’ll get to reach for your fitness goals.
Making Your Fitness Goal Real
If you want to make it to the finish line, you have to first define it. Setting a good fitness goal is the only way you can reliably create success in and out of the gym. Set a goal, track it, and keep everyone aware of what you’re doing, and you are setting yourself up to hit whatever you’re aiming for.