How to Set SMART Fitness Goals & Achieve Them
As the new year begins and we start to think about how we would like to grow in the next twelve months, you've probably started to consider your health and fitness. The new year always comes with the motivation to get fit, but if you're sick of getting halfway through January and realising you've given up on your goals, we've got you covered.
One of the best ways to set fitness goals is to use the SMART acronym to ensure your goals are viable. In this article, we're going to look at what fitness goals are, what SMART goals are, and how you can use this acronym to set goals and actually achieve them!
To find out more about SMART fitness goals, keep reading!
What is a fitness goal?
A fitness goal is a goal you set that aims to boost your health and fitness. Health and fitness goals can include everything from exercise goals to health and diet goals. For example, you may aim to eat in a more balanced way this year, perhaps you want to cut out snacks and focus on a vegetarian diet, or maybe you want to be able to do twenty push-ups. Both of these count as health and fitness goals and can be made achievable using the SMART goal setting acronym.
It's important for a healthy life to eat a balanced and healthy diet, get regular exercise, and good sleep and so setting fitness goals that are achievable and viable can be really beneficial to your health overall. In addition, good physical health can contribute to good mental health, promoting feelings of positivity, good self-esteem and self-confidence.
Setting achievable fitness goals is in your best interest. To find out how to do it, keep reading!
What is a SMART goal?
The SMART acronym emerged in the 1980s as a way of setting achievable goals. The SMART acronym translates to:
S - specific goals. This means clearly defining your fitness goals and what you want to achieve with them. Do you want to lose weight? Or maybe you want to feel better about yourself. Be specific about what it is your goal is.
M - measurable goals. Your goals need to have a tangible benchmark. Your goal can't be something that cannot be measured like, 'eat better,' however, it can be 'eat at least three different kinds of grains a week,' or 'be able to complete 2 x 10 reps of bicep curls with a 3kg weight.' These goals are measurable and can be ticked off.
A - achievable goals. This one is key. You need to set goals that are actually achievable so that you don't feel let down if you don't hit them. If you're a total fitness novice, you're not going to be able to lift huge weights or be able to run 50k in a month, so set goals that are more achievable.
R - relevant goals. Your goals need to be relevant and catered to you and your lifestyle. If you know you're not going to make it to the gym six days a week, don't set yourself that goal! Make sure your goals fit into what you can actually achieve within the parameters of your own life.
T - timely goals. Set a deadline by which you want to achieve your goal. If you want to be able to do fifty sit-ups, give yourself a date to aim for. Setting time-specific goals can help you to have a focus and a deadline to strive for. Set a realistic time frame to ensure you don't miss your goal and lose your motivation.
How to set SMART goals: improve fitness, lose weight
SMART fitness goals are a great way to build a fitness program and achieve success. Whether you want to lose weight, commit to training regularly, or build athletic performance, SMART fitness goals help you to set realistic and measurable fitness goals that allow you to see you're own development.
Below, we've gone through a few examples of the different kinds of goals you can set and how they are linked to the SMART acronym. Check it out for some SMART inspiration!
A specific goal leaves absolutely no room for misinterpretation. Placing a numerical value on your goal is a must to ensure that you can check you have achieved your goal.
Examples of specific health and fitness goals include:
- Complete 30 minutes of cardio three times a week for six weeks.
- Eating three vegan meals a week for eight weeks.
- Doing ten push-ups a day for three weeks.
- Training with resistance bands for twenty minutes four times a week for four weeks.
Measurable goals, like specific goals, need to have an actual, tangible benchmark to hit. This is usually a numerical value and is easily assessed. Having measurable goals makes it easy to know whether you have hit the goal or not.
Examples of measurable goals include:
- Being able to perform a specific number of a certain exercise, for example being able to do 30 squats.
- Achieving 1RM (one rep max - the maximum you can lift) with a specific weight.
- Losing a specific number of pounds (lbs).
Making your goal achievable means you're more likely to stick with your fitness journey. Your SMART fitness goals need to be attainable by you within your set time frame. Don't set a fitness goal you know will be impossible for you to achieve and remember you're more likely to stick at something if you see yourself rewarded!
Advice on setting achievable goals:
- If you are a fitness novice, make sure to set smaller challenges that you can assess every few weeks to show your measurable development.
- If your SMART fitness goals are intended to help with weight loss, ensure your weight loss goals are healthy and achievable, i.e. don't aim to lose more than 1 - 2 lbs a week.
Your SMART fitness goals need to be relevant to you and your lifestyle. Don't set goals you know are unachievable because of your lifestyle.
Advice on setting relevant goals:
- Don't set impossible tasks. If you know you can only make it to the gym three times a week, don't commit to six visits!
- If a gym is inaccessible to you, aim to create home workouts.
- If you know you never have time to cook proper meals throughout the week try buying and cooking in bulk at the weekends to help with healthy eating goals.
Setting a deadline is key to SMART goal setting. SMART goals demand a time frame so that your SMART goal is measurable, not just numerically.
Advice on timely goal setting:
- Choose an achievable time frame. You are unlikely to be able to achieve much in a week, but a few weeks or months may be more attainable.
- Consider the amount of work you will do each week and how you can use this to set a suitable time frame.
How to achieve SMART goals
SMART goals are made more achievable by their nature. When you set SMART goals you ensure that you will have as much chance as possible to achieve them by ensuring they're specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
Setting goals where you can see your own success, i.e. ensuring you do a certain number of things per week, can help you to stay on track. Setting an achievable goal means you're more likely to hit it and more likely to continue working towards your desired outcome.
Remember to start out small, setting attainable goals that can be reached every few weeks. Breaking your long term goal down into a series of different attainable goals can help you to see your own development and give you a clear direction.
A note on healthy goals
Setting healthy goals is a must when trying to achieve better fitness levels. You need to consider your current fitness level and monitor the way your body responds. Don't push yourself too far and try your hardest to set goals you feel are achievable.
When increasing the amount of physical activity you do, it is important you take care of your body afterwards. This can be done by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet, ensuring you get enough protein, and even supplementing with protein shakes and bars, and getting enough sleep.
Setting SMART fitness goals is a great way to ensure you stay on track and keep working toward your goals. The SMART acronym is really helpful in creating goals that are achievable and measurable and aligning your goals with them will help you to feel motivated and more positive about your fitness journey.
This article has covered the basics of SMART goal setting and so, the rest is up to you! We recommend you assess your progress each week to ensure you're on track for your long term fitness goals while feeling rewarded by setting smaller goals with shorter time limits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some SMART fitness goals?
SMART fitness goals are characteristically measurable and so any goals you set using the SMART acronym should be specific and measurable, as well as attainable. SMART fitness goal examples include:
- I want to be able to do ten push-ups by the end of the month. This goal has a numerical value - ten push-ups - and an end point, making it easily measurable.
- I want to train with resistance bands three nights a week for four weeks. This goal is easily measurable - did you train three times each week with resistance bands? The answer is either yes or no. It also has a time limit - four weeks.
- I want to eat three vegan meals a week for eight weeks. As above, this goal has a numerical value, is easily measurable, and has an end point.
What are fitness goals examples?
Fitness goal examples can include anything from being able to perform 1 rep with your maximum weight to being able to run a certain distance to banishing sugary snacks from your diet. Fitness goals are goals that improve your fitness and help you to lead as healthy a life as possible. A fitness goal should be easily measurable and attainable so that you don't lose motivation!
What are the five SMART goals?
The acroynm SMART stands for:
S - specific goals, meaning your goals cannot be misinterpreted.
M- measurable goals, meaning there is a specific way you know you have achieved it.
A - achievable goals, meaning your goal is achievable and not something that is impossible to do in the time limit.
R - relevant goals, meaning they are catered to you and your lifestyle.
T - timely goals, meaning there is a time limit and a deadline to focus on.
What are three types of goals?
There are different kind of goals you can set for yourself. These include:
- Goals that are specific and have an obvious outcome, i.e. be able to do a full body pull up.
- Goals that change your habits, i.e. eating a more balanced diet.
- Goals that improve your body or mind, i.e. training three times a week to lose weight or build muscle mass.