What are the benefits of setting fitness goals?

There are many benefits to setting goals. The following is a list of some of the benefits:

•              Goals direct attention to important elements of the skill being performed

•              Learning what is within your client’s control

•              Empowerment

•              Satisfaction

•              Self-confidence

•              Increased focus

•              Increased motivation

Lyn Turton
Nutrition & Dietetics
Setting goals helps us focus on what we'd like to change and what needs to be done to achieve it.  Goals should be time specific and measurable.  If your goal is to eat 3 pieces of fruit every day this week you can easily tell if you have achieved this versus "I'll eat more fruit" which is hard to monitor.

One of the most important benefits in setting fitness goals is identifying the barriers and facilitators to reaching those goals. Once you establish the facilitators (or those actions that help you achieve your fitness progress), and the barriers (or those actions that impedes your progress), you will have the feedback necessary for achieving and maintaining your fitness success.

Depending on your goals, start with a 12 week plan to allow the effect of your training to come to fruition. When setting a 12 week goal, also set shorter term goals such as 1 - 2 week goals. To be helpful these goals should be measurable, and realistic in your ability to achieve them. 

Remember, goal setting is a tool or a guideline for measuring results. If your goal is not reached, it is not failure, but offers the ability to analyze what work and what adjustments need to be made. 

Numerous studies conducted in the field of success psychology have shown that individuals who set goals have a far better chance of achieving them than those who do not. Think about it. Even our simplest daily tasks revolve around setting goals. For instance, the weekend is a few days away and you have guests coming to visit. You jot down a quick list of things to do before your guests arrive. These are your goals. The list serves as a reminder of what your goals are and helps you organize your thoughts and strategize about how to get them done. Next, you begin to perform tasks on the list and you systematically cross off the items that you have accomplished on the list, feeling a sense of achievement. Apply this to your fitness goals. It should come as no surprise that when you can define your fitness goals, you have a greater chance of achieving them, just like your to-do list.

As Stephen Kraus writes in his book, Psychological Foundations of Success, goal setting provides increased performance due to three factors:
  • Direction: Goals direct action. They channel and focus effort in the direction chosen by the goal setter. As a result, they are empowering tools, enabling people to steer their lives in the direction of their choosing.
  • Motivation: Goals stretch and push, resulting in greater effort and persistence. Goals clarify and make concrete your desired ends. Being aware of the gap between where you are now and where you want to be creates motivation to close that gap.
  • Strategy refinement: After setting challenging goals, people think longer and more creatively about how to accomplish them and how to measure progress toward them.

Continue Learning about Fitness Goals

The New Rx-ercise: Move More, Move Quickly
The New Rx-ercise: Move More, Move Quickly
If you type the word exercise into the Google search window, you’ll get about 1,720,000,000 results. And the available info covers everything from A t...
Read More
What exercises can help tone my butt?
Julie DuBois, NASM Elite Trainer, RDJulie DuBois, NASM Elite Trainer, RD
Squats and lunges are two great exercises that you can do to tone your butt, and they don't even req...
More Answers
What do I need to think about when setting fitness goals?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Is your goal measurable? If it isn’t in the way it is currently written, is there a way to refra...
More Answers
The 10-Minute Lean Body Workout You Can Do At Home
The 10-Minute Lean Body Workout You Can Do At Home

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.