Setting Effective Fitness Goals
If you’re hitting the gym 4 to 5 times a week and feel like you’re not making progress, you probably aren’t setting effective goals. Goals improve performance in a number of ways: they push you to concentrate your efforts, make you less susceptible to derailers, and allow you to better monitor your performance. If you’re working out three to four times a week and not setting fitness goals, then you are doing yourself a disservice. You’re preventing yourself from getting the most out of your effort. Setting and achieving goals is the only way that you are going to be able to continuously improve and reach your maximum potential in and out of the gym.
Set Effective Goals
Goal setting seems simple and intuitive, but that isn’t necessarily the case. You should put thought into the goals you set. A goal can make or break your performance. Several factors influence the effectiveness of a goal. Impactful goals typically have the following characteristics:
- They are clear and specific. “I will lose weight” will not motivate you as much as “I will lose 30 pounds.”
- They are measurable. Measurable goals make it easy to monitor your performance. “I will eat better” is not measurable, while “My meals will consist only of lean meat, complex carbs, and healthy fats” is measurable. You can look at each of your meals and easily determine whether you are meeting your goal.
- They are realistic. Goals should push you without overwhelming you. Unrealistic goals will hinder your progress and demoralize you, which will make you less likely to set and achieve additional goals in the future.
- They have a deadline. A goal without a deadline lacks a sense of urgency, which makes you more likely to continuously delay your efforts and fail to achieve the goal. “I will lose 30 pound by April 30, 2017” is much more effective than “I will lose 30 pounds.”
- They are relevant. The best goals resonate with your values and drivers. Connecting short term goals with long term goals will increase their relevance and your motivation.
Let’s take a look at an ineffective and an effective goal:
|Ineffective||I will be more fit in 2017|
|Effective||By December 30, 2017, I will become more fit by:
Note the differences between the two goals. The ineffective goal is vague; fitness is undefined and there is no way to truly know whether\ you achieve your goal.The effective goal has an exact deadline, and it is a combination of short and long term goals that support each other. Each goal is specific and measurable, which would allow you to easily evaluate your progress throughout the year. You aren’t lazy when it comes to working out, so don’t be lazy when it comes to goal setting.
Make it a Challenge
Don’t set a goal that you know will be easy for you to achieve. Easy goals don’t make you grow. A comfort zone is a nice place, but it’s not where you’re going to make progress. Your goals should stretch you without breaking you. Research has shown that challenging goals keep individuals engaged and motivated while pushing them to peak performance. Challenging goals push us to solve new problems, develop alternative strategies, and give us a sense of triumph and pride once we achieve them. If a goal is too easy, you will find yourself easily disengaged, and fail to make true gains. Setting easy goals that you know you can achieve is worse than setting no goals at all. By doing this, you are essentially limiting yourself based on your past performance. Set goals that will test your abilities if you want to make gainz.
Increase Your Commitment
Your level of commitment to a goal directly affects the degree to which you will successfully attain it. It may seem like an obvious concept, but sometimes people fail to take steps to actively increase their commitment to a goal. Increasing your commitment is best done in the following three ways:
- Connecting the goal to your “Big Why.” Always try to trace a goal back to one of your larger life goals or values. Instead of “I will work out 4 times a week to stay in shape,” you might say “I will work out 4 times a week to have a higher quality of life, live longer, and be a better parent for my kids.”
- Publicly broadcast your goal. Share your goal with the CFV community or just a few of your friends so that you feel more accountable!
- Find an accountability buddy. Ask someone if they would be willing to have you send them a progress report each week. This gives you someone to hold you accountable and a supporter for those times when you feel like giving up.
Which one of these steps can you take today to increase your commitment to your goals?
Keep the Process in Mind
When you’re setting goals, don’t lose sight of the process. We tend to focus on outcomes, and fail to focus on the behaviors needed to attain those outcomes. If you use process goal appropriately, you will find yourself achieving goals faster and maintaining long term habit.
Outcome Goal vs Process Goal:
|Outcome Goal||I will lose 30 pounds by April 30, 2017.|
|Process Goal||I will work out at least 4 times a week for the next 4 months.|
Do not solely focus on the outcome when you are setting goals; always consider the habits you will have to develop to achieve your desired results, creating these habits will help you maintain your goals once achieve them.
If you’re new to fitness, setting goals will help you achieve results faster and will help you develop the habits you need to stay committed. Once you’ve trained beyond the novice level, you will need to approach your training with intention to take your results to the next level. Setting goals is the best way to deliberately improve your performance and reach new fitness levels. Effective health and fitness goals will give you a roadmap to hit new PRs and become the best athlete you can be. What goals do you need to set and achieve to become a better athlete?