Setting fitness training goals is a first step toward giving direction to your exercise program. Goals project a path that leads to the level of health and fitness you envision. Clear measures of your expected outcomes crystallize your progress along the way.
Many can readily express their primary goal as, “to get fit”. But what exactly will being fit look like, and how will you know when you have arrived?
There are many ways to demonstrate that your fitness level is improving. Subjectively, you may seem more vibrant, shapely, and toned. But you also need concrete ways of measuring improvements.
Correctly developed goals promote adherence to your fitness program. Witnessing visible progress inspires even greater effort toward achieving goals.
Ideal fitness goals are:
1. Stated in specific performance outcomes: The key is to select a few goals with clearly defined outcomes that exemplify the fitness qualities you hope to develop. Examples are: (a) wear size 12 jeans, (b) walk 5 miles without stopping, (c) bench press 200 pounds, or (d) reduce proportion of body fat weight to 25%.
2. Directly measurable: Each of these outcomes can be assessed early in training and evaluated throughout your program. They provide objective indicators of your improvement. There will be no question as to whether or not you have accomplished them.
3. Targeted for specific short-term and long-term completion dates: Set a date when you expect to achieve your long-term goals. Then establish short-term goals that you at specific dates along a time line (e.g., monthly, every 6 weeks). Short-term goals are mile markers-check points of your progress toward your long-term goals.
4. Realistic and achievable: Given your starting point or current condition, could you potentially achieve these fitness goals within the projected time line?
Goals should be challenging, but not overly aggressive or virtually impossible to reach. If you mistakenly set your goals too high or too low, adjust the targeted values and/or dates accordingly.
Examples of good goal statements are:
*Fit into size 14 jeans by April 1 and size 12 jeans by June 1.
*Walk 2 miles without resting by February 15, 4 miles by April 1, and 5 miles by June 1.
*Bench press 75 lbs. 5 times by April 15 and 100 lbs. one time by June 1.
*Achieve 30% body fat weight by March 1, and 25% by June 1.
Be patient as you navigate the path you set forth. Even if it takes longer than anticipated to achieve your fitness goals, celebrate your milestones and keep going!