When starting a fitness program, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Fitness goal setting should be one of the first things you do. You may want to improve your health, lose weight, build endurance or learn a new skill. No matter what your motivation, setting fitness goals will give you something to work towards and will help you measure the success of your fitness program along the way.

Setting SMART Fitness Goals

Your success in achieving fitness goals is more likely if you define attainable goals and develop a plan to achieve them. People in the business world have put a lot of thought into setting and achieving goals and some of their concepts can be used in fitness. The SMART model is particularly useful. A SMART goal is defined as having these attributes:

S – The goal is specific. Instead of setting a goal just to lose weight or begin running, set a goal to lose a specific number of pounds or run a specific distance.
M – The goal is measurable. This means the goal has a number attached to it, such as 15 pounds or 5 miles.
A – The goal is attainable. Don’t set yourself up for failure with unattainable goals (such as shedding 20 pounds in 2 weeks). Consult a fitness professional and do some research to determine attainable goals that take your current level of fitness into account.
R – The goal is realistic. A realistic goal can be accomplished given your schedule, responsibilities and lifestyle. For example, creating a goal to run 5 miles a day is attainable, but if you have a family and a long commute each day it might not be realistic. Your goals should be challenging without being impossible.
T – The goal is time-based. Put a realistic time limit on your goal. Decide you will lose a specific number of pounds or run a specific distance by a specific date. Having a calendar deadline will give your training sessions a sense of urgency. Letting family and friends know about your deadline will provide even more incentive.
Once you’ve defined SMART fitness goals and started a fitness program, it’s important to frequently measure your progress towards your goals. Without tracking and assessment, fitness goal setting is useless. By evaluating how you’re doing towards meeting your goals, you’ll be able to tell if your fitness program is effective or if you need to modify it. Measuring your progress will also help you stay motivated and on track.

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