Setting a goal and planning a fitness training strategy that will help you achieve it actually translates as half the battle won. Goals help you to organise your efforts along with spurring you on to successfully meet your targets. The importance of setting clear, achievable fitness goals cannot be overemphasised as without a specific aim in mind, it is impossible to give a sense of direction and purpose to your actions.
How does it help to have a goal?
- Identifying your goal ascertains what course of action you will need to take. The type of workout you should be doing is determined by your fitness goal – whether weight loss, weight gain, increasing strength, prevention of future health concerns or any other more specific aim like say, running a marathon in six months time.
- Defining a goal also includes knowing why you want to achieve what you have set as a goal for yourself. This is really the most important aspect of having a goal as the answer to that “why” involves emotions that hold the key to your motivation which is the main ingredient in the recipe for success. So if you have decided to incorporate fitness into your life, it is essential to first ask yourself what you aim to achieve, and why? Do you want a body transformation like a celebrity you admire, or does the thought of strong, well-built muscles inspire you? This becomes your motivational force that will fuel your efforts towards fulfilling your goals.
- Having an established goal, keeps you focussed and consistent even when the initial enthusiasm sparked by the adrenaline rush has diminished. It helps you to settle down into a steady rhythm and carry on with your fitness schedule in a planned, organised manner.
The correct goal setting technique: Although the steps below will guide you when trying to set your future goals, the most important part is that you commit to the weekly tasks that will make it possible. If you don’t know what is required to make it happen then you need to speak to a personal trainer or a conditioning coach as the most efficient way to do something properly, is to ask someone who has already done it. If you want to build muscle, then you need to commit to all of the processes that will allow this to happen, and if you think that all it takes is nailing the gym 5 times a week then you are sadly mistaken. Below is a list of weekly goals that someone looking to make real gains in muscle mass would need to take:
- I will eat clean unprocessed foods that are not toxic to my body – Why: Toxicity is the arch enemy of gaining muscle mass.
- I will go to bed and sleep every night at 10.30pm and get good quality sleep – Why: Sleep is required to regenerate and promote muscle growth.
- I will not drink alcohol or limit myself to 1 glass of wine a day – Why: Alcohol destroys muscle growth.
- I will train 4 times per week minimum and train with intensity and focus.
Goals should be well defined so that they help chart your progress. Setting the right kind of goals that optimize your efforts and guide you to your destination would be your pathway to success. Here are a few guidelines about the ideal methods of goal setting.
Goals should be specific: Having too general a goal like for example, “I want to lose weight” will not really help you much. You need to zoom in on a more specific aim by adding parameters of time and quantity. “How much weight you wish to lose and by when”, makes for a more precise goal which you can plan to achieve in a systematic manner. This allows you to break the bigger goal into smaller more specific ones. Thus you could schedule your workout routines and plan your course of action.
Measure and review your goals periodically: It is important to be able to check if you are on the right track which is why you need to set goals that can be measured from time to time. For this too, you need to break your long-term goal into evenly spaced out short-term targets. If you find that your efforts are not really leading to the results that you had aimed for, you can consult your personal trainer and take corrective action by modifying your fitness program. An even greater advantage of having measurable goals is the boost that your confidence and motivation levels get when you succeed in achieving what you had stipulated for yourself within that time frame.
The importance of short-term fitness goals: It is only by attaining short-term goals in a consistent, steady way, that you would be able to realise the big goal. Having short-term goals eases the difficulty of the task by giving you smaller milestones to reach that mark your progress and keep you motivated.
Set goals that are attainable: You need to make sure that you do not get carried away by ambition and end up setting a goal that is impractical and unrealistic. It’s just not possible to lose 20kg in 1 month and is a sure means to invite failure and discouragement. Instead, that figure could be tweaked to say 2-3kgs in one month which would then make for a goal that is achievable, giving you every reason to work hard towards fulfilling it.
Have goals that are realistic and you can commit to: In your enthusiasm to achieve your target, you might decide to set restrictions on yourself that would really be difficult to abide by. So don’t make unrealistic demands on yourself that you will find difficult to commit to and allow for the occasional rest day or a bite into your kid’s birthday cake. You are the best judge of the type of goals you can or cannot commit to and you need to make an honest evaluation of that.
Goals must have a time frame: In fitness, all goals only make sense when you attach a time limit within which they need to be accomplished. This helps to plan your efforts and keeps your pace from slackening as you have a clear target to work towards.
Setting goals hasn’t only got to do with the final destination. It’s more about defining goals that are clear, measurable and realistic, that can propel your efforts to give you tangible results.