How do I set specific fitness or training goal?

When goal setting, it is very important to be specific about what you are trying to achieve if you expect to achieve it. Studies have shown setting specific goals not only results in a higher percentages of achieving that goal but that people are actually more happy and motivated while working towards it. A specific goal would not be “I want to lose weight.” It would be “I want to lose 10 pounds before my 10 year high school reunion.” In this example, you have not only clearly defined what you want to achieve, but you have created a measureable goal set within a specific timeframe. Goals do not have to be based on weight loss; they can be based on increasing the amount of time you spend doing a certain exercise or working out. Walking 20 minutes every day or getting into a size 4 dress by the end of the month could both work as specific goals. Make sure the goal is relevant and important to you because this emotional investment will help you stay motivated throughout.
First, figure out what goals are important. Next think about the top 10 most important psychological (able to think more clearly, able to sleep better, being more positive, better able to deal with stress and anxiety) and physical (able to climb stairs, healthy weight, looking good and feeling strong) skills you need to excel in fitness or training. On a scale of one to ten (one describing an area that needs improvement and ten describing an area as perfect) rate yourself on those areas and figure out where you want to be. The discrepancy is the region between where you are and where you feel you need to be. 

The next step would be to set goals around those areas of growth. SMART goals are the best goals: specific, measurable, attainable, reliable and time based. 

To set a specific goal it is a good idea to know where you’ve been, where you are at, and where you’re going. You need to know your starting point so you can measure your progress. Setting goals is a powerful way to discover your strengths. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and putting them in writing will help you keep your focus.  Share your goals with others, ask for support and encouragement and keep your goals where you can see them daily.

S-specific- Be very clear about what you want to accomplish.

M measureable- Set a goal that you can compare to when you started such as body weight, BMI, measurements, how much weight can you lift, running/walking speed.

A-attainable- choose a goal that has identifiable steps to take. It should challenge you but be achievable

R-realistic- be sure to set a goal within possibility (lose six pounds in a month)

T-timely- set a target date for short term and long term goals

Goal setting is a very important part of a successful training regiment.  As a coach, I always have my athletes set goals periodically throughout the season.  I tell my athletes to set two types of goals:

1-  Goals which you will probably be able to achieve. (within reach)

2- Goals which, right now, you feel are just beyond your expectations. (in their mind may be slightly out of reach)

The obtainable goals (1) give them a sense of accomplishment and keeps them motivated as we progress through the season.  If they happen to achieve one or more of their unobtainable goals...well, you can imagine the excitement.  I would recommend the same approach to personal fitness.

One can set specific goals by understanding specifically what he, or she wants to achieve and when the desired goal is to be accomplished.

Using the SMART goal method you can create a system in which your fitness program will seem to schedule  itself.

Specific Fitness Goals

These goals make you ask Who, What, When, Where and Why. No matter what you might want to achieve, put this in writing so you can see what your main goals are. For example A general goal would be, "Get in shape." But a specific goal would say, "Join a health club and workout 3 days a week."

Measure Fitness Goals

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the fitness goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable Fitness Goals

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, and skills to reach them. You begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them. When you list your goals you build your self-image. You see yourself as worthy of these goals, and develop the traits and personality that allow you to possess them.

Realistic Fitness Goals

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress. A high goal is frequently easier to reach than a low one because a low goal exerts low motivational force. Some of the hardest jobs you ever accomplished actually seem easy simply because they were a labor of love.

Time Specific Fitness Goals

With no time frame tied to it there's no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? "Someday" won't work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe, "by May 1st", then you've set your unconscious mind into motion to begin working on the goal.

When you are thinking about what fitness or training goal to set, as has been mentioned, think about "why" you want to achieve a certain level of fitness or accomplish a specific training goal. One suggestion I have is to really dig deeper into the "why" part, because truly understanding why you want something helps with the motivation to achieve your goal. To dig deeper, ask yourself "why", then repeat the question. For example, let's say your goal is to be able to do 10 pushups. If you ask "why", your first answer might be that you consider that to be a level of strength you want to achieve. Now ask "why" again. Why do you want to be strong? Maybe then your answer is that it will make you feel more confident. Again, ask "why" - why do you want to feel more confident? Continue on in this way as many times as you can, and you can learn more things about yourself and also feel more motivated to reach your goal, because you have worked through in your mind all of these benefits from achieving your goal. Good luck!

Setting a specific fitness or training goal requires an individual to have a detailed plan of action. One must first define what it is that they want to accomplish. Next, an outline of how you're going to accomplish this specific fitness or training goal needs to be established. This outline should include explicit information defining specific steps or measures toward your goal and a reasonable time frame (expiration date) to achieve this task. Once these steps are in place, the final act is executing your plan of action.

Fitness goals should start generic and be broken down into smaller, more specific achievements.  For example:

Goal: Lose weight

Follow the process below:

  1. Conduct a beginning assessment (weigh-in)
  2. Identify a healthy weight for you (use a height-weight ratio table)
  3. Set a reasonable timeframe for you to reach your goal weight (1-2 lbs/week is generally considered healthy)
  4. Set periodic goals and weigh-in days to track progress
  5. Adjust the program as needed to achieve the smaller, periodic goals

Get Up, Get Out, and Get Going...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.