Lack of fitness motivation is the number one reason a person gives up on their new workout routine or abandons the diet they’ve embarked on as a New Year’s resolution.
Working out is tough. Getting up early is tough. Relearning old habits is tough. Striving to make progressive gains is hard work. And doing all that and seeing nothing change is a deal breaker.
Here’s where fitness goals come in. They don’t need to be massive, and indeed shouldn’t be, since attainable goals help us track progress and recognise our achievements, where each tiny gain is another step forward on the fitness journey to reaching those bigger outcome goals.
Here I’ll explain the benefits of working with a certified personal trainer to fine-tune your training and goals, determine which goals are specific to your current fitness level and aspirations, and why tracking and monitoring are crucial to keeping your fitness motivation levels on point.
Goal Setting as a Workout Fitness Motivation Factor
Most people step into a gym with an ‘endgame’ long-term goal, often to lose x amount of weight, get incredibly fit, improve their overall health and stamina, or transform their body composition to reverse years of inactivity.
However, while having a huge life aim is a great starting point, picking goals that are simply out of reach or will take years to accomplish makes it hard to keep your fitness motivation at the place it needs to be to motivate you to change your lifestyle, commit to a certain number of gym sessions a week, or that extra push to step outside of your comfort zone, and stay there.
As a personal trainer, my job is to ensure you achieve the fitness and exercise goals you’ve set, but with a strategic, science-based process that breaks down the barriers, identifies stepping stones along the way, and ensures you see what you are achieving from day one.
For example, a weight loss goal might start with making a minor positive change:
- Increasing your water intake to x litres a day.
- Turning up at the gym x times a week.
- Scheduling x rest days between your workouts.
- Walking to and from work x days per week.
Those small goals are easy to accomplish but collectively can make a profound difference to how you perceive the focus and effort you are putting in. We track, celebrate, and progress – starting with baseline changes that pave the way towards your outcome goal.
Picking the Right Goals for a Healthy Lifestyle
There isn’t any right or wrong aspiration; you might have performance goals, own strength goals or body image goals. Whichever matters most to you, the trick is to gradually increase the exertion, challenge and changes you’re making to ensure they are sustainable.
We’re all familiar with crash diets, which work for a day or two, and then fail dramatically. The same happens with fitness and health goals, where a person pushes themselves to exhaustion for a week and never goes back.
Fitness can require concerted effort, but with progress goals, you can avoid the intense stress that almost always backslides and leaves you less fit, strong and healthy than before.
Instead, I focus on setting effective goals, with your input a crucial component of defining those things that motivate and inspire you as an individual. As a conditioning specialist, I often work with people who dream of a perfect 6-pack, but simply working through repetitive ab exercises day in and day out isn’t how they succeed.
Rather, it’s about using that outcome goal as a target and creating exercise and health goals to help achieve the aim, from adjusting your diet to ensuring your workouts are safe, taking your body and any health conditions or mobility issues into consideration, and moving forward progressively and with confidence.
Tips for Setting Great Fitness Goals
Most of us would like to run faster or be stronger, but smart goals avoid those typical mistakes that set you up for failure before you get started.
Here are my top tips to help you set goals that won’t last as long as your latest New Year’s resolutions, and will help you define what you want to achieve and how you will do it.
1. Create Small Goals With Milestones
The smart method of goal setting is to ensure you have manageable, achievable targets that build towards your overall fitness and health goals. For example, if you’d like to run a marathon, start with improving your fitness, endurance and cardio ability until you’re capable of running a 5K.
Your time frame will depend a little on the hours a week you can set aside for training, but nobody goes from a non-runner to a marathon finisher in two weeks!
Track your progression, from settling into an ongoing workout routine to making sure you take the stairs, and you’ll soon find that a one-mile jog around the park is much easier than on day one.
2. Build Goals You Can Measure
Getting fit or feeling stronger isn’t quantifiable, so it’s impossible to accurately measure how much closer you are to your goals. A specific goal can always be broken down into measurable metrics, such as:
- Being able to perform ten push-ups unbroken.
- Losing inches – NEVER weight!
- Hitting a new PB on a weight training exercise.
Ticking a box to confirm you’ve achieved a goal or started to progress is affirming and can make a huge difference to your fitness motivation as you move on to the next small goals within your plan.
3. Set Fitness Goals With a Time Bound Element
While it’s essential to acknowledge that fitness goals rely on a long-term commitment and often changes to your life in terms of the food you eat and the volume of physical activity you complete, you also need to incorporate a time limit.
Why? Because if you want to say, lose one dress size or three inches from your midsection but have yet to commit to doing so within one year, or six months, you can mislead your brain into complacency.
A personal trainer should always ensure your fitness goals are achievable and realistic, with a manageable time frame, but use this to keep your motivation up, and ensure you don’t lose interest in your programme because it doesn’t really matter how long it takes to hit the goals you’ve set.