Using SMART Goals
Another successful strategy when setting goals is to make them SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
Follow the guidelines outlined below when setting SMART goals to optimise your plans. They will underline an example SMART Goal plan and provide you with a clear, logical blueprint for setting your own fitness plan.
Your goal should be clear, concise and easy to understand.
- Avoid common goal, non-specific goals (Example – “get in shape”) Goals like these are too general and difficult to measure (see Goal setting part 1). For example, what do you actually mean by to get in shape? Weight Loss? Muscle development? To be able to run a 10K? Be specific. Break it down and it will be easier to manage.
- Let’s pick fat loss, lean muscle gain and cardiovascular improvement and make a SMART goal out of those. For example, “I will decrease my body fat levels. I will increase my lean body mass” and “I will run a 10K race”
- Throw in one more objective for good measure. “to fit into an old favourite t-shirt”.
The Goal must be quantifiable. Also, you need to know exactly what will determine the long-term goal for fitness and health has been reached.
A goal to “lose fat and gain muscle” is not enough. How will you measure progress/setbacks and how you will know when you have reached your goal? Making your goal measurable means numbers and calculation.
- The use of apps, a calendar and various computer programs to monitor progress.
- Utilise weight and body fat measurement tools such as BMI calculators; scales; calculators; selfies; bioelectrical impedance tools; callipers; measuring tape etc Make your measurements on a regular basis (every two weeks, for example).
What sacrifices will need to be made and what support you will need. Is the long-term SMART goal realistic?
Before you can add a number, you have to know how high or low you want to go. It’s great to aim high but don’t be too extreme. Likewise, a goal that is too easy is also not very motivating. Only you know your limits.
- Using the baseline goals above. What percentage of fat loss is attainable? Research suggests that a 5-10% weight loss is attainable for most overweight people.
- So a measurable, attainable fat loss goal could be, “I will lose 7% of my body fat.”
- With regards to weight. With regular training and proper technique, the average person should be able to double what they can lift (For example with compound lifts).
- So a measurable, attainable muscle building goal could be, “I will lift double what I currently lift using compound lifts” (such as barbell squats, deadlifts and bench press).
- With regards to cardio training. The average person should be able to increase their running ability to 10 kilometres status with regular training.
- So a measurable, attainable cardiovascular goal could be: “to begin a running/cardio plan increasing distances over a weekly period to gradually prepare for a 10k Race.”
Set goals that are important to where you are in your life right now. Don’t set a goal that someone else is pressuring you to attain or that is not very motivating.
- Examine your goal planning so far. Is it still relevant to you? If yes, let’s keep going. If you are not concerned about body fat loss or this is not a good time in your life to focus on that, choose something that IS motivating to you. Make the changes so it’s relevant and appropriate to your specific needs.
- Do you undertake a particular sport and are hoping to improve your game? Then you will need to make changes relevant to the needs of the game if you want to improve there. Does the game require a lot of hand-eye coordination and/or motor skills? Does the game involve a lot of muscular power and strength? Make it relevant.
Include a time limit. Knowing that you have a deadline motivates you to get started.
- Since healthy weight loss is about 1-2 pounds per week, set your deadline accordingly. For our particular example, we can use for 3 months. “I will lose 7% of my body fat in 3 months.”
- Likewise, 3 months should give us adequate time to build up muscular strength and endurance. To be able to lift X2 what I can presently lift in the same time frame.
- 3 months provides adequate time to prepare the average individual for a 10k run.
Our example SMART Goal
- Lose 7% of body fat.
- Improve physical fitness to run 10k.
- Lift X2 of baseline 1 repetition maximum with weights.
- Fit into an old favourite T-shirt.
- All in 3 months.
So there is our first SMART goal! With a goal like this, it’s the beginning of a plan, but best to set a few more goals in place and put some flesh on this plan.
- Committing to training with weights for at least 3 times a week with an aim to encourage lean muscle growth.
- Ensure to prepare the correct meals that encourage muscle growth and thus avoid being tempted to eat junk throughout the working day.
- To drink water throughout the day.
- Aim at increasing your weight by 2% each session to ensure overload and progression.
- Cardio based exercises three times a week to encourage fat loss and improve your cardiovascular abilities. To also undertake one long distance run at the end of every week.
- Utilise a range of apps and measurement tools to measure your progress/obstacles on a fortnightly basis.
- To aim to fit into an old favourite T-shirt within the 3-month time frame. (From XL to Medium).
Summary of Key Points
- Set SMART goals. Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound to optimise them and create a clear outline of your strategy.