Working towards your fitness goals can be complicated and confusing. Breaking down your goals into something more manageable can be really helpful. A great way to do that is using the SMART goal structure.
A SMART goal is a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Specific. This method of chasing your goal will help you to stay on your track along your fitness journey. Jumpstart, gives a great example of a smart goal that fulfills all of these criteria: “I will walk enough to burn at least 1,120 calories through working out this week.”
So how can you use the smart goal structure to achieve your fitness goals? In this post, we’ll go over each letter in the SMART goal structure, and discuss.
Table of Contents
Make your goal specific
We’ll start with the letter S which stands for specific. First, you need to know exactly what you want to accomplish. Avoid being too general with your goal like wanting “to be healthy”. While there are many ways to be healthy, how do you exactly want to do it? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to create a meal plan? Do you want to start biking? As ACE suggests, breaking down your goals into concrete objectives can be easier to manage.
In an article by Active, being specific is about making sure that your goals are accurate and declared in performance terms. Here are a few good examples:
- “Lose a pound in the next three months.”
- “Gain weight in the next ten weeks.”
- “Complete a 10k race in the next four months.”
- “Build muscle in the next five months.
The bottom line is when you have a specific and clear goal, it’s easier to determine if you have achieved your target or not.
Make your goals measurable
The M in smart goals stands for “measurable”. As you work towards your fitness goals, measuring your progress is something that you can’t overlook. NASM explains that measurable means creating a goal that can objectively get measured so that you can monitor your progress. Here are some examples of measurable goals:
- Running for 5 miles with ease
- Lose 20 pounds
- Run on the treadmill for 60 minutes
- Perform 20 push-ups
Making your goals measurable can help you track your fitness progress more easily. NIFS points out that tracking your goals can also help you see when a goal might not be reasonable and when adjustments need to be made.
There are lots of different options when it comes to how to measure your progress. If you want to track your nutrition, Clinical Advisor suggested that apps like Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker by My Fitness Pal. There are also apps for specific activities, like running, cycling, yoga, even meditation.
You can also track things manually with pen and paper or in a workout journal. Photos make for a great way to track progress, and Polar proposes that taking weekly selfies is a great way for monitoring as you can see how your body changes from day today.
Regardless of the method, making your progress towards your goal measurable can keep you motivated and cognisant of how much progress you’re making.
Make your goal attainable
The A in SMART goals stands for attainable. Your goal should be challenging, but also realistically achievable. If you set upon a goal that was unrealistic (“I want to become an Astronaut by next month”), you may find yourself discouraged when you don’t achieve it.
While some long term goals may seem unrealistic, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for them. One strategy is to break down the long term goal into multiple short term goals. Australian Fitness Academy notes that short term goals typically span over a few weeks or months.
Creating challenging goals isn’t something to avoid, but they should be achievable and realistic regardless of how challenging they are.
Make a relevant goal
Next, the R in SMART stands for relevant. When setting goals, ensuring how relevant they are to your lifestyle and health is essential. NASM also says that relevant goals are goals that are important to a person and align with other fitness-related aspirations.
Elly McGuiness also mentions that identifying the relevance of your fitness and your goals gives you the opportunity to think about what you're passionate about and your core values in life.
For example, if you were a runner, think about why you want to run for 5 miles as one of your fitness milestones. Is this the goal that you really wanted to achieve? Will this improve your life? Maybe you want to be healthier and stronger so that you can be active and have more time with your family. Choosing goals with a sense of purpose behind them can help create the motivation you need to succeed.
Keep in mind, though, you shouldn’t pick a goal that is important to someone else only. Relevant goals hold personal importance to you, and are not imposed on by others.
Make your Goal Time-Specific
Lastly, T stands for time-specific. Every goal should have a deadline that will encourage you to stay on track and make the goal a priority. Jumpstart states that having a time limit to your fitness goal enables you to stay committed and succeed in reaching your goal.
When planning for your fitness goal time frame, being honest with yourself is important. An example of a time-specific fitness goal that you can consider might be: I want to lose 20 pounds by 3 months from today.
Giving yourself a timeline can oftentimes provide just the urgency you need to reach your goal.
Making sure the goals you set are SMART goals will do wonders for making sure you are always making progress on your fitness journey. Every goal you identify should:
- Identify a specific target
- Be Measurable
- Be attainable (while challenging)
- Relevant to you, your lifestyle, and your priorities
- Time specific- give yourself a deadline!
SMART goals not only enable you to push yourself for success, but it also helps you in attaining discipline and value while working towards your goals. With SMART goals, reaching for your fitness goal might not be that hard at all.