Have you ever started out on a fitness journey with a target that you set yourself; “I want to get into shape”, “I want to get fit”, “I’m looking to bulk up” but lost interest and motivation along the way?
Well you are not alone! This is a very familiar occurrence and although these targets can be inspiring, and you start with the best of intention, without the right approach, it all too often ends in failure.
Setting yourself an ultimate goal is great first step. However, ensuring that you accomplish this goal will be based on effective planning, consistent progress andmeasuring progress.
SO HOW CAN YOU ENSURE THAT YOU EFFECTIVELY REACH YOUR FITNESS GOAL?
An effective way of ensuring success with your fitness goals is to use the SMART goal setting method. Goals are mentally driven objectives that we set out to accomplish and using the SMART goal setting method when planning your route to achieve these goals will help keep you focussed and on track to success. SMARTstands for:S pecific M easurable A chievable R elevant T ime-Bound
Setting short (2-4 weeks), medium (1-6 months) and long term SMART goals (6 months – several years) together, rather than in isolation, can help you stay on the right track to achieving your ultimate fitness goal.
All your goals should be related to something you want to achieve in the long term whether the aim involves fat loss, muscle building, improving aerobic fitness, flexibility, or another aspect of fitness.
Goals that are more specific lead to greater results than if you set vague “do your best” goals or set no goals at all.
When setting out a specific goal ask yourself:Whois involved?
What do I want to achieve?
Where will I carry this out?
When do I want to accomplish this goal by?
Which limitations or constraints may I face?
Why am I doing this?
So instead of “I want to burn fat”, a more specific goal would be “I want to lose fat by joining a gym and working out 4 days a week”.
You want a way to be able to evaluate whether your goal has been met. Establishing a measurable criteria (e.g. adding a number) is a very effective way of identifying whether you have accomplished your goal as well as tracking your progression.
So based on the previous example “I want to lose fat by joining a gym and working out 4 days a week” a more measurable goal would be “I want to lose 4lbs of weight every 2 weeks while working out in the gym 4 days a week”.
Tracking your progression becomes much easier once you set yourself measurable targets. It also provides you with positive feedback which can fuel your motivation towards the next goal!
Undertaking too much too soon is one of the biggest reasons people fail to reach their fitness goals. Most people want results quickly and while it’s good to have high aspirations, ‘shoot for the stars’ or ‘go big or go home’, jumping in at the deep end is not going to be healthy or sustainable in the long term.
Failing to achieve your goals because they were too ambitious or too difficult to accomplish in a set timeframe is a very common problem. People become demoralised and demotivated to continue because they didn’t reach their targets and revert back to their previous poor behaviours and habits.
However, if it’s too easy to accomplish your goals you may lose interest, or lack the motivation to push yourself. You need to find that fine balance between setting a goal that is challenging and attainable!
Your short and medium term goals should align with your objectives. Is this goal going to get you one step closer to your long-term objectives?
If it doesn’t act as a stepping-stone to where you want to be, you might want to consider adjusting your SMART goal.
You can achieve most goals if you plan your steps to get there wisely. Consistent accomplishment of multiple short-term goals about every 2-4 weeks is the key to successful progress. Once the date of your long-term goal comes around, you will not only have accomplished that goal but also many other smaller ones along the way.
This means that there should be a set timescale to accompany each goal. Setting yourself a clear deadline or target directs your focus on what you want to achieve over an allocated amount of time and allows you to see how much work you need to perform at each stage in order to get there.
Write down the date when you wish to achieve your short, medium and long term goals. Keeping the date of each goal somewhere you can see it on a regular basis e.g. in a training diary or on your mirror/calendar will be an important psychological motivator.
CAN GOAL SETTING BE USED TO IMPROVE SPORTS PERFORMANCE?
Goal setting can be utilised in many forms of training - not just for those looking to shift those extra pounds or improve muscle volume. In strength and conditioning and sporting activities, goal setting has been shown to have a great influence on overall performance.
Studies support the concept that setting specific ‘moderately difficult’ goals as opposed to general targets achieved the best results in strength and conditioning performance, muscular endurance and a range of strength measures. [1,3]
Setting goals can help influence your performance by:
- Focussing and directing your attention on a specific task or activity
- Increasing the amount of effort and intensity you put into your training
- Increasing your persistence to achieve your target despite the chance of failure
- Adapting your behaviour so you can problem-solve and find new strategies to achieve goals
Goal setting is more than just about identifying a target and its barriers, creating a plan of how to get there and evaluating progress. Burton et al (2001) suggest that it also makes beneficial changes by indirectly adapting your behaviours to maximise how efficiently you can achieve your goals. This might be through smarter training as well as increased duration and intensity.
GOAL SPECIFIC TRAINING SYSTEMS
Different goals and experience require different training program design. At FitnessGenes we believe that our goal specific training systems can help you successfully reach your long-term goal in a progressive and sustainable fashion.
The Genetic Training Systems are not only personalised using your genetic data but they also involve a consistent, maintainable approach to training and nutrition.
The nutritional components are in an easy to follow format that alters progressively towards your end goal based on the intensity of each training phase. The training plan allows enough time to adequately recover and adapt to the different training variables and stimuli. The combination of these two components will allow you to successful achieve both short and long term goals.
Remember goal setting is a continual process and doesn’t have to stop once you have completed a certain goal. Getting into a routine of setting and accomplishing goals will help not only for success in fitness and sports but in all aspects of life.
- 1 - Bar-Eli, M., Tenenbaum, G., Pie, J. S., Btesh, Y., & Almog, A. (1997). Effect of goal difficulty, goal specificity and duration of practice time intervals on muscular endurance performance. Journal of Sports Sciences, 15 (2), 123-135.
- 2 - Burton D, Naylor S, Holliday B. Goal setting in sport: Investigating the goal effectiveness paradox. In: Singer R, Hausenblas H.A, Janelle C.M, editors. Handbook of research on sport psychology. New York: Wiley; 2001. pp. 497–528. In. Eds. 2nd ed.,
- 3 - Lerner, B., & Locke, E. (1995). The effects of goal setting, self-efficacy, competition, and personal traits on the performance of an endurance task. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17, 138-152.
- 4 - Tod, D, & Lavallee, D (Eds). (in press). Psychology of strength and conditioning: International perspectives. Oxford: Routledge.