Even those of us who love working out go through periods when our motivation wanes or life gets in the way. Workout goals provide the incentive we need to keep going, to push through discomfort, and achieve long-term success.
Defining your workout goals is the first step in maintaining them. If done correctly, you can set yourself up for success, but if your goals are too vague, unrealistic or not challenging enough, you could wind up frustrated and discouraged with the lack of results.
How to Create Workout Goals
The most recognized goal-setting strategy used by leading trainers and sports psychologists around the globe is the SMART method, an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely goals.
The first step is to clearly outline what it is you want to achieve. Simply stating that you want to “get fit” or “be healthy” is too vague. The key is to define what fit and healthy mean to you. Perhaps you want to work out more, lose weight, get stronger, lower your blood pressure, or run a marathon.
The next step is to further refine your goal into a quantitative measure that you can track and use to benchmark your progress. For example, your goal might be to lose 10 lbs., work out 3 times per week, do 20 push-ups, lower your blood pressure by 5 mm HG, or run 6 miles.
Your goal should also be within reach of where you are now. If you aren’t working out at all, setting a goal of 3 times per week may be too high to start. You want to reward yourself with small wins in the beginning, and then build on them. Setting lofty goals that you can’t reach will only result in you giving up.
Your goal should not only be attainable, but it should be worthwhile. This is where you want to pinpoint your “why”, and attach motivation to your goal. Maybe you want to lose weight for your daughter’s wedding, lower your blood pressure so you don’t have to go on medication, or run a marathon so you can sign up with your dad.
The final step is to set a deadline. Be honest with yourself about what you truly believe you can accomplish within a given time frame, but don’t set your sights so far out that there’s no urgency. For example, losing 10 lbs. in a week is not realistic, but giving yourself 3 months can lead to procrastination. A better option might be to set a goal of losing 3 lbs. in 2 weeks.
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