Setting fitness goals is one of the first things you need to do if you want to make good and solid progress in the short and the long term. Knowing how to set fitness goals, however, is not so easy. There are a lot of different factors as to why, and a lot of obstacles to learn about and overcome too. We're here to walk you through the process so that you can make yourself some good goals set to exactly what YOU need.

Issues

Woman counting calories for fitness goals

Before you can make sure that you're setting proper fitness goals that will suit you down to the ground, you need to realise why different goals work differently, and what is and isn't a good idea. Here are a few to remember:

Unreachable Standards

First of all, one of the most important points that you need to know about before setting your fitness goals is how your ideals might be set. We’re living in a world where exercise and health are all around us. Whether you're watching TV, reading a magazine or browsing the web; there are people who appear to be the pinnacle of health and fitness with their new fad diets and special training plan. What they don’t tell you though, is how they actually look like that. Whether it's surgery, steroids, photoshopping or just genuine hardcore, full-time dedication with a personal trainer (which most of us don't have…).

All of these things make us quickly think that that's what we should be reaching for in our training. Realistically, trying to train like this is detrimental, both physically and mentally. The quicker we realise this, the quicker we can actually begin to lead healthier lives as a whole and make goals to suit ourselves. That’s vital on its own!

Wrong Information

Next up on the list of issues with setting your own fitness goals is the sheer volume of false information that’s out there. Everyone thinks they know everything about fitness, and with the introduction of the internet, people are quick to show it too. Old wives tales, fad diets, or just blatant lies are often a cause of issues in goal setting.

Usually, people think that they have to train a certain way to reach a certain goal, even if it's not right (like targeted fat loss). That's one of the quickest ways both:

A. to make an unhealthy habit

and

B. to demotivate yourself when you can't manage it because it was wrong.

Setting Your OWN Fitness goals

Woman doing exercise outdoors

So going back to the point, setting your own fitness goals still isn't as black and white as you might think. Knowing what you can achieve, what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it are all vital parts of the same plan, and they need to be able to work with each together. Let's take a look

Long Term Fitness Goals

Getting the ball rolling needs to start with a good long-term plan. You need to know ultimately what you want to achieve and when. Don't make things ridiculously difficult, but have something to really strive for. You might not make it, but you’ll know which direction that you want to take to get there. Some of the most common types of long-term fitness goal are:

  • Lose weight in a year
  • Lift a Certain weight
  • Run a certain distance in a certain time
  • Maintain a healthy weight

The list can go on, but you get the idea…

Once you have a rough aim nailed down, you can make things more specific. Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) targets is often one of the best ways to do it. They really give you everything you need to know. Just make sure that they are measurable and realistic if nothing else!

Woman squatting

Short Term Fitness Goals

So now that you know where you want to be, it’s time to look at how best to get there. Some of the best ways to do this, and to keep the motivation going, are to set short term goals too. Not unhealthy short-term goals like to lose a stone in a month or anything, but little milestones on a monthly basis are a good idea.

They follow exactly the same principles as longer-term goals, but of course, on a much smaller scale. That will help you to keep on pushing forward and making sure that what you are doing is working, without expecting the world in a matter of days or weeks, like many of us try to achieve. (That's why we looked at losing weight in 30 days)

Losing 1lb per week or going a weight up the rack every 2-4 weeks, for example, are good calls.

Those are the more factual points of view when it comes to setting your fitness goals, but there are some mental aspects that change from person to person too that you need to keep in mind. Things like:

Your starting point / How fit you already are

Some people may be in a better starting point than others after all.

Find your Reasons/your drive

You need to know why you want or need to change and keep that as your focus.

Be Flexible

All progress is good progress after all, and everyone plateaus for a while at some point!

These are all important points to take into account, but on top of ALL of this, one thing prevails. Make sure that you're healthy outside of your training too. You can train as hard as you want, but if you eat terribly outside of it, you are going to get stuck.

Everyone’s fitness is their own, and you need to remember that in the long and the short term. Good luck! Understanding how to set fitness goals is just as important as why, so brush up on both and do what's best for your own fitness.


Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.