Updated: Jul 20
WEEKLY CIRCUIT CLASS: Tuesday 6th December, 6:30pm Turnham Green, Chiswick - Come down and get involved!
Edition 44 - Why Smashing Your Goal-Setting is Key to Smashing Your Goal
Achieving your fitness goals can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Setting clear and measurable goals can help you make progress towards a stronger and healthier you. We discussed last week some glaring errors where people are going wrong, and rectifying this all starts with properly determining what your goals are, and how you will track your progress. Knowing how to measure progress will help you stay motivated, keep you on track and make sure you actually realise your goal. With the right information, strategy, and commitment, anything is possible! So let’s get into it.
Before setting your goals, it’s important to understand your fitness level, and your current habits. This will help you set more attainable goals. For example, if you’ve never exercised before, setting a goal to run a marathon isn’t a great idea. So first of all, select the right objective for you, and then secondly, measure the shit out of it.
It should go without saying that people who set fitness goals stay more consistent with their exercise habits compared to those who don’t. Setting clear and measurable goals helps you stay accountable, gives you something to strive for, and provides a clear and obvious reference point for your progress. Your goal could be as simple as wanting to improve your fitness and endurance, but for this goal setting to be effective, you have to go a bit deeper and more specific than that - otherwise, how and when do you know you have improved your fitness and endurance? It’s time to remove the subjectivity. Whatever your objectives are, setting measurable fitness goals is the first step towards achieving them.
Types of Goal Setting
There are a few different types of fitness goals you can set for yourself. These might include:
Endurance - Building fitness and stamina for things like running, hiking, or swimming. I have clients who simply just want to be able to go for a long walk in nature with their friends, and NOT feel horrible knee pain during and after doing it. Even something like this is measurable using a ‘rate your pain/discomfort’ scale and working on your strength in the gym (and measuring all of this too) to reduce where you land on this scale after specific activities. For swimming, tracking your PB for ‘lengths without stopping’, timing how long your fastest length takes you, or your total swim time. It’s all measurable.
Muscle mass - Usually when people say they want to ‘tone up’, they (by definition) want more muscle mass. However, generally the phrase ‘muscle mass’ scares people who, as we mentioned last week, ‘don’t want to get too bulky’. But when we consider that looking ‘toned’ is simply the combination of the absence of body fat and presence of muscle - gaining muscle mass is exactly what this person should want (they just may not realise it yet). Increasing muscle mass accelerates fat loss, which is why I continue to beat the drum loudly and annoyingly to those who don’t really want to believe they may just need some gainz in the muscle department to move towards their objective.
Strength - It is important to remember strength and muscle mass are two different physiological components. Don’t conflate getting stronger with gaining muscle size, and vice versa. Setting strength goals can be as simple as ‘I want to take my deadlift 5-rep max from 40 kg to 60 kg in 12 weeks by practising lifting twice per week, low reps 3-5 on day 1, and high reps 6-10 on day 2, re-testing every 4th week’.
Health - Reducing the risk of diseases and conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Your goal setting may consist of doing a cholesterol test, a blood glucose test, and a blood pressure test, then addressing changes to your diet, exercise, hydration and sleep habits before re-testing every 4th week.
Performance - to excel in sports, or compete in a fitness challenge, performance-based goal setting is absolutely crucial to get where you are aiming to be. If you are a footballer, you need to measure how much distance you cover in 90 minutes, how many sprints you make and how much high-speed distance you cover (using trackers like StatsSports, which I use - see below).
Tools for tracking your progress
Smart Watch - These can help you track your overall fitness progress, as well as keep track of specific goals, like distance walked or run, calories burned, and sleep.
Health and fitness apps - My Fitness Pal, Strava, FitR Woman, Wim Hof Method - There are plenty of health apps out there, many of which are free, and allow you to track your progress towards health or fitness related goals, like analysing your outdoor runs (Strava) learning about your average speed, heart rate, running cadence etc. or monitoring your diet (MyFitnessPal) by logging your meals and learning which macronutrients, fibres and vitamins you are consuming, and how this ties in with your objectives.
Notebooks, journals, or scrapbooks - Keeping track of your progress, no matter how informal, can help you stay motivated, and provide a helpful reminder of your progress.
Strategies for staying motivated
Having the right tools and strategies to stay motivated can help you achieve your fitness goals faster. The first and most important thing to do when setting fitness goals is to make sure they’re meaningful and important to you. If your goals aren’t important to you, there’s a good chance you won’t stay consistent with them.
Next, as we have mentioned, you need to make sure your goals are realistic. If you’re just starting out with exercise, you may want to set small, realistic goals, like walking 30 minutes a day, and slowly work your way up from there. Don’t bite off more than you can chew!
Find a workout buddy - Having an exercise partner can help you stay on track, keep you accountable and provide you with motivation when you need it most. If you don’t have an exercise partner, just having somebody you report to (a friend or a spouse) about your goals can help - never underestimate the power of telling another person out loud that you are going to do something.
Stay consistent - Make sure you’re staying consistent with your exercise habits, and don’t let yourself get too far behind. If you’re just starting out, you may want to give yourself a little extra time, so you don’t get discouraged and give up too soon.
Adjust your goals
If you’ve set goals, and began working towards them, but find you’re not making progress, you may need to adjust your goals. We’ve talked about how the shiny new plan is never really what actually happens. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including not setting the right goal, injury, not tracking your progress, or not having the right tools or strategies in place to stay motivated. If you’re not making progress towards your goals, consider the following 2 things:
Go back to the start - Before making drastic changes, make sure you’ve considered all the things above. Take some time to re-evaluate what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it.
Ask for help - If you’ve tried everything, and nothing’s working, it may be time to ask for help. Whether it’s from a doctor, a friend, or a professional, sometimes it can be helpful to have an outside perspective.
Setting and achieving fitness goals will have a positive impact on your overall health, your mental and emotional well-being, and provide you with the confidence and self-worth to achieve whatever you want in this world. In the process of achieving your fitness goals, you allow yourself to experience:
Improved strength and fitness
Increased energy levels
Better quality of life
Better mental health
So there is no reason why we shouldn’t all make high quality goal-setting our top priority!
“The victory of success is half won, when one gains the habit of setting goals, and achieving them” - Og Mandino
Movement of the Week: Balance Hops
2 x 10 hops each leg
This is a great low intensity plyometric exercise for anybody looking to create better levels of stability and durability at the ankle, knee and hip during movement. The lateral movement encourages your glute medius and adductors to kick in as you land, while doing this barefoot or in socks will help you use the smaller stabilising muscles around the ankle and foot to create a better foundation. Give it a try!