Ready to take your fitness level to the next level, but not sure where to start?
Whether you’re looking to build muscle, lose weight, run a marathon, or simply improve your health, you likely know the first thing you need to do is to set some goals.
Would you like to learn how?
Then you have come to the right place.
In today’s article, you’ll find out:
- What are fitness goals?
- The importance of goal setting
- How to set the right fitness goals
- Examples of proper fitness goals
- How long should a fitness goal take to complete?
- Short term VS. long term goals
- How to regularly assess your progress
- And so much more
Are you excited?
Then let’s get started.
The Importance of Goal Setting
So, what is a fitness goal?
It’s a specific training objective or physical test you set for yourself to attain within a particular time-frame.
Fitness goals are about figuring out what you want or want to improve and then taking the necessary steps to achieve it.
Chances are if you’re already a health-conscious person, you already have some fitness goals in mind.
Whatever has motivated to start exercising in the first place—losing weight, improving strength, competition, whatever—can likely be considered as a fitness goal.
For example, you might want to run a 10K before the summer ends or want to hit your target blood pressure level.
I can go on and on about fitness goal examples but let’s leave that for later.
Why Set Fitness Goal?
There’s plenty of benefits to setting fitness goals.
Setting fitness goals can also help hold you accountable, encourage you to push through fitness barriers and temporary discomfort, and expand your definition of possible.
Having fitness goals can also help you monitor your progress and gives you something to work towards.
Not to mention the feelings of accomplishment and delight when you complete a fitness goal.
In other words, you’ll never (Insert your Fitness Vision HERE) without having the right goals.
Let’s delve into how to set smart fitness goals.
So, what are some good fitness goals?
In fact, I’d dare say that there are as many fitness goals as gym-goers out there.
After all, goals are very personal and tend to be different from one person to the next.
You can also google “fitness goal examples,” and the search result will come up with hundreds, maybe thousands, of examples.
Some will be specific and helpful, and others not that really helpful, like get in shape or lose weight.
To help set you on the right food, I’m sharing with you a list of some of the fitness goals you should add to your bucket list for a healthier, stronger, and faster you all year round.
1. Cardiovascular Goals
At a minimum, aim to spend 180 to 220 minutes every week engaging in some sort of cardiovascular exercise, whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, spinning, or simply walking.
Shoot for three to five sessions per week at an intensity at around 70 to 90 percent of your maximum heart rate.
2. Drink More Water
Water is essential to life—getting fit is no exception.
Make it a rule to stay well hydrated throughout the day.
Aim to drink half of your body in ounces every day.
Drink more during your intense training days and/or the summer—and remember to keep track of your hydration levels.
3. Stretch often
Although the science on the effectiveness of stretching for injury preventing and performance is still out for debate, I cannot emphasize it enough.
Regular stretching improves your range of motions, prepares your muscles and joints for intense activity, improves flexibility, and may speed up recovery as well as reduce post-workout aches and pains.
Make it a rule to lightly stretch your major muscle groups used during exercise for 6 to 8 seconds before a workout, and all major muscle groups for 30 to 45 seconds post-workout.
4. Do High-Intensity Interval Training
Steady-state cardio workouts, such as the long run, have their benefits.
But if you want to crank up your fitness to the max, add a couple of HIIT workouts to your exercise plan.
5. Strength Train
Target every major muscle group at least two to three times per week, shooting for a minimum of one to two sets of 10 to 12 reps.
6. Decrease Your Body Fat
Having a healthy BMI is one of the most vital steps to a healthier you.
When you a low (healthy) body fat, you also lower your risk of heart disease, reduce inflammation, protect against diabetes, enhance the functions of joints and tendons and improve your overall appearance and self-confidence.
7. Eat More Vegetables
Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few decades, then you already know that the greens are an essential ingredient in a healthy eating plan.
Eat plenty of dark, leafy vegetables as they’ll offer you a wide array of nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals—all of which assist your body in performing at its best.
8. Reduce—or Altogether Eliminate—Sugar
This I cannot emphasize enough
Cutting sugar won’t cost you anything—in fact, it actually improves your health in the long run while saving you a lot of money and trouble.
What’s not to like!
9. Shoot for 10,000 Steps A Day
Besides hitting the gym and the running track, I’d also recommend that you add as much physical activity to your daily life as possible.
A good target to have to shoot for at least 10,000 steps per day.
You are not meant to sit down all day long.
Get to work and move your body.
Get a fitness tracker and start keeping track of your daily step count.
For the record, 10,000 steps per day is the equivalent of one hour’s worth of walking.
10. Shoot for 7 to 9 Hours of Sleep
This might not seem like a fitness goal, but it’s actually crucial for achieving your health vision.
Proper sleep speeds up recovery and the muscle rebuilding process as well as boost up your energy tanks for your next workout.
How to Set Good (and Smart) Fitness Goals
Now that we got the formalities out of the way let’s look at how you can actually start setting fitness goals as well as how to go after them.
Let’s lace up and dig in.
Your Goals Must be Relevant
Your motivation can come from anywhere and anything.
But your fitness goals must be yours.
Your fitness goals should represent what you want to do for yourself.
They should also make you feel proud.
You lose when you make your fitness goals about meeting someone else’s expectations.
Here’s what to do.
Set fitness goals that are relevant to your life and suitable for your lifestyle and health.
They’ve to feel right and personal.
Make it a rule to make your goals YOURS—something that you’re personally invested in and excited about.
In other words, set goals for yourself, not your friends, girlfriend, boyfriend, family, or society.
“I’m going to lose 20 pounds in 8 weeks, and that gives me bragging rights all year long.”
Losing 20 pounds in two months is very had, and sorry for saying this, but no one gives a damn about the numbers on your scale but you.
“I’m going to do my best to lose weight and get in shape because that will help me feel good about myself, increase my productivity, and improve my overall health and well being.”
Well, that’s what we’re talking about.
Make Your Goals Specific
Whether you’re trying to start running, break your bench-press record, or simply lose weight, specificity is important.
First, a specific fitness goal can increase your motivation as you know exactly what you need to do.
What I’m trying to say?
Telling yourself that you want to start running or hit the gym more often is not specific enough.
These are vague goals and don’t serve much.
That’s a reason why so many people give up when the going gets tough.
A specific fitness goal also helps keep you accountable.
They provide you a sense that you’re going somewhere—instead of spinning your wheels in place.
You can’t tell how close (or far) you’re getting to your goals when you don’t have a benchmark.
Here’s a rule.
When setting fitness goals, allow for no grey area.
Abide by specificity, or it’s a no-deal.
You want to accomplish this.
You want to accomplish that.
If you want to lose weight, work out how many pounds do you want to shed?
If you want to become a runner, decide how many times per week, you plan to run?
You can make your fitness goals more specific by either attaching a number to them or giving yourself a deadline—it works best when you do both.
“I want to lift more weights.”
“I want to be able to squat 170 pounds using the barbel in 8 weeks”.
Challenging But Realistic Goals
One of the biggest mistake I see many make is setting unrealistic goals.
I see nothing wrong with dreaming big, but chasing unrealistic fitness goals only set you up for failure—and you don’t want that.
Set a too big of a fitness goal, and you’ll be heading in the wrong direction.
This is another many give up on their exercise resolutions after only a few weeks in.
When your fitness vision is out of reach, you likely won’t truly commit to it because, deep down, you know you cannot make it a reality.
So why even bother.
Keep your expectations realistic if you want to be successful—not just in fitness but in all other areas of life.
The key is to find a sweet spot.
Go for something that’s challenging but not so devastating that it’s impossible to attain within a realistic period.
“I want to finish my first marathon under three hours.”
It won’t likely happen if this is your first race.
It takes years of training to reach that level.
“I want to finish my first marathon within the four hours time frame.’
Again, what’s I’m talking about.
Remember Short Term Goals
How do you eat an elephant?
One bite at a time.
That’s the exact approach you should adopt when tackling BIG GOALS.
First, what do I mean by a big goal?
A goal that’s achievable within one year or more.
Within your ultimate fitness vision, set smaller, confidence-boosting goals that are relatively easy to achieve in a shorter time-frame.
In other words, set micro-goals on the way to your ultimate fitness goals.
For example, say you want to run 10K in 50 minutes.
During your training, shoot for a smaller goal, like running two miles at your goal pace, then build on that until you can run 10k in 50 minutes.
What if you want to run a marathon with no racing experience?
Start with shorter distances, then build it from there.
Do plenty of 5Ks, 10Ks, and half marathons before you attack the 26.2-mile beast.
The shorter events will help you to gradually build your base and improve your conditioning without overreaching.
As a rough guide, keep your mini-goals within the two to six weeks time-frame.
One at a time.
One after the other.
Having a deadline helps you come up with a plan to achieve your goal by breaking it into daily, weekly, and monthly milestones—as long it’s a realistic goal.
When it’s the case, you’ll find it easier to schedule the time needed to devote to achieving your fitness goal.
It also adds urgency.
Without a deadline, there’s no urgency and no reason to give it your all.
You may adapt the mindset of “I will start tomorrow” instead of doing your best to make your fitness vision a reality.
That’s why I consider a goal without a deadline a mere wish that will never never be fulfilled.
Here’s what to do.
Set a big goal with a long time-frame, like one year, then break it down into mini-goals with shorter time limits.
“I want to run a 5K someday.”
“I will run the X 5K race on Y date”.
Write it Down
Once you have chosen your fitness and training goals, you need to write them down in a workout journal.
When you commit your goals to paper, you’re declaring your intentions and making your goals more real.
You have no excuse for tossing them to the side.
Keeping a written record of your goals can help keep you honest and accountable.
Here’s what to do.
After deciding on your goals, write them down and keep tweaking them regularly.
As you jot them down, use the word “will” instead of “might’ or “would like to.”
For example, “I will run my first 10K on my birthday”, not “I would like to be able to run a 10K on my birthday.”
The first statement carries more power, and you can see yourself training and then completing the race.
The second seems dull and may not be enough to keep you committed when the getting gets tough.
You should also keep your goals visible.
Hang them on your office desk, door, bedroom wall, or wherever you could see them on a regular basis.
Now that you know how to set smart fitness goals, it’s time to take action.
Whether through Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or even just by telling your family members, and friends, share some of your goals with your family and friend.
This helps encourage you when you feel like slacking or when the going gets tough or when you are slacking.
Going public not only helps keep you accountable but also flush out who does want you to succeed.
Once you identify your not-so-supportive people, try your best to avoid them.
They’re doing nothing but hold you down—and you don’t need all that extra weight, especially when trying to lose weight (no pun intended).