how to set SMART fitness goals

How to Set SMART Fitness Goals

Setting goals is important for getting ahead in life. But you have to go about it right.

You have to create SMART goals.

What is a SMART Goal? 

The term SMART in regards to goal setting is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. 

When incorporating the SMART method into your goal setting, you should make sure that your goals are specific – this means that you should try to be as granular as possible when deciding on your goals.

Some examples of specific goals are exercise 3 times a week, run three 5k’s before the end of the year or even schedule specific exercises that you’ll complete on a regular interval.

An example of a fitness goal that lacks specificity would be “exercise more frequently”. The reason that specific goals are helpful in goal setting is due to the fact that it will be very apparent whether or not you are hitting your goals. There is no ambiguity in specific goals, making it harder to get out of hitting said goals.

Measurable goals are goals that have tangible and identifiable metrics associated with accomplishing them. If you are effectively setting specific goals, it will be likely that these same goals are also measurable. The more specific your goals are, the easier it will be to measure. 

Achievable is likely one of the most important elements of setting SMART goals and is the one that most individuals are most likely to struggle with. One way to overcome this is to set both long-term and short-term goals.

Setting long-term goals can help you feel like you are still setting ambitious achievements and you can use your short-term goals as the building blocks that lead you to accomplishing your loftier dreams.

Examples of achievable goals will vary depending on where each individual is at in their fitness journey and where they want to ultimately be. It’s important to consider where you at currently with your health and exercise routine. For example, if you aren’t currently working out, it would be difficult to achieve a goal of working out 5 times a week.

A more achievable goal would be working on 3 times a week and work your way up to 5 workouts a week after a 3 to 6 months of sticking to your initial goal. It may be additionally helpful to incorporate a training plan into your goal setting. 

Relevant is the fourth metric used when setting SMART goals. When setting relevant goals, you should take into consideration how the goals that you set will help you reach your end goals. For example, if your ultimate goal is to join the Navy Seals, then you would want your fitness goal to be more relevant to increasing your physical abilities in the water rather than land.

Time-bound is the last acronym for setting SMART goals. Time-bound will help you create and stick to a schedule. When your goals are time-bound it will help you to determine if you are on track to accomplish said goals by the set dates.

Time-bound goals will also work to constantly remind you of where you wanted to be and by when. Setting time-bound goals is likely one of the easiest metrics to incorporate into your goal setting and can be added to current goals that you’ve already set by simply adding some sort of time restraint or end date for when you would like to accomplish a goal by. 

How to Set SMART Goals 

Now that we have a better idea of what SMART goals are and what it means to set SMART goals, let’s breakdown the actual process of setting SMART goals. The first step that you should consider is where your weaknesses are and what you want to end result to look like.

Once you’ve identified both of these things, you’ll need to decide on your timeline. Now that you’ve established where you are currently at, where you want to be and when you want to accomplish each of these things by, you are ready to start setting your goals.

Regardless of what your goals are, prioritizing a good night’s sleep should be one of the foundational elements of your plan. The reason for this is because getting a regular night’s sleep as often as you can, will help you stay on track with your fitness goals.

It is recommended that adults get between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. If you currently struggle with your sleep routine, you may want to explore resources around adjusting to a new sleep schedule.

You may want to consider incorporating naps into your schedule or creating a bedtime routine that will help you prioritize restful sleep. You will also be depending on a relaxing and restful sleep for muscle recovery and generation. 

Now that you’ve determined how you will accomplish getting extra sleep, you can start prioritizing the areas of your fitness goals that will result in physical gains. Start by setting a five year and a one-year goal. Your five-year goals should as ambitious and sky-high as you could possibly imagine. Think of all the things you could possibly want out of your physical health and set those as your five-year goals.

While you may not accomplish these exact goals, you will have an opportunity to reassess your five-year goals every year and adjust accordingly.

After setting your five-year goals, it’s time to set your one-year goals. Your one-year goals should still feel mildly ambitious, but they should be considerably more realistic. A good rule of thumb is to set goals that you are confident you could accomplish at around 80-90% completion.

That way you’ll have to push yourself to complete your goals at 100% but can still feel accomplished by confidently completing the majority of your goals. 

Once you’ve set your one-year goals, you should set weekly, bi-weekly or monthly goals. You can also set each of these goals on a monthly basis but pick a schedule that is most realistic for your personal circumstances. Your weekly, bi-weekly or monthly goals should be very achievable and should strictly adhere to each of the SMART goal metrics.

Each month that you accomplish these short-term goals, you should increase the difficulty by 10-20% for the following month. Look at your initial monthly goals and take into consideration whether or not you would be able to accomplish your yearly goal if you increased your initial goals by 20% each month.

If you cannot accomplish your yearly goal with a 20% increase each month, you should consider reassessing your yearly goal. In addition to use the SMART methodology, you should also explore ways that you incorporate data into your goals.

Incorporating data into your goals will help you to set increasingly measurable goals and will make it easier to identify whether or not you are on track and sticking to goals. 

Closing Thoughts 

Although setting goals and working towards being in your physical prime can seem daunting, as you continually set and accomplish new goals each month, you’ll feel reinvigorated about what you are capable of.

One of the biggest benefits of setting short-term goals is that you’ll have a more immediate sense of gratification since you won’t have to work toward something for an entire year to feel that you’ve accomplished a goal that you set for yourself.

Find a network of people that can work towards supporting you, create your game plan and get out there and crush your goals. 

Author Bio:

Noelle Fauver is a contributing editor for 365 Business Tips. She has a B.A. in Communication Studies from California State University, Northridge and experience in marketing, finance, and small business management.

She volunteers on the board of the San Diego American Marketing Association as the Event Experience Chair to help local marketers in the area develop their professional repertoire and connect with other professionals. She loves curling up next to the fire with a good book on a rainy day with a bowl of homemade soup. But most of all, she loves writing great content.