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Setting Realistic Exercise Goals

Setting Realistic Exercise Goals

Have you ever been inspired by a movie, TV show, friend, celebrity, etc., in a way that made you want to become a fitness fanatic?

While feeling encouraged to exercise is great, you want to maintain consistency and not burn out after that initial excitement.

That’s why setting realistic exercise goals matters so much. 

Getting SMART About Setting Realistic Exercise Goals

What are SMART goals? Well, SMART here isn’t about intellectual capacity. It’s actually an acronym that’s helpful to keep in mind when you’re setting your goals.

The five focus areas in the SMART framework are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely.

So what does all that mean?

1. Specific

When you set out to make a fitness plan, be specific about your goals. For example, if you’re feeling like you could hit the gym more often, maybe start with saying, “I’ll go to the gym three times per week.” This is less general than just planning to go more. But it’s also more realistic than stating outright that you’re going to go every single day. 

Also, take a look at your proposed fitness routine. If it’s always the same, you’re going to only build specific body parts and not others. Plus, you’ll get bored more easily and it’ll be harder to muster up the willpower to do those same movements, weights, or miles day after day after day. 

Whatever goal you’re setting, figure out the who, what, where, when, why, and how of it. Then be sure it’s something that’s not going to send you directly into burnout. It’s far more motivational to build upon your goals as time goes on than to have to bow out and feel like a failure.

2. Measurable

One of the best ways to stay motivated is the recognition of progress in your workout. This makes the goal feel that much more achievable. 

So perhaps you set out to nail a specific number of pushups or squats and build up from there. Or maybe you’re determined to complete 10 reps on the Pilates reformer or running a personal best time over a set distance. 

Your specific goals don’t matter so much. It’s more that once you’re able to reach those target measurements, you can then add to them as you realistically keep working toward a higher level of fitness.

And if you have a friend, significant other, or roommate you can adopt as your workout buddy, this can also help boost your motivation as they share in the celebration of your achieving these measurable goals.

3. Achievable 

When creating your specific and measurable goals, be sure they’re achievable. If you’re new to weightlifting, for example, it’s unlikely you’ll be bench pressing 300 pounds by next week. And unless you have a gymnastics background, you probably won’t land that handstand in your first yoga class.

Driving yourself to what is, at the end of the day, an unachievable goal is not only a recipe for frustration and burnout, but it could lead to injury or even illness. So give yourself the freedom to work slowly and safely toward your goal.  

By not rushing into a fitness modality, you’ll learn the proper form that will help you maximize your workout and use your energy efficiently. In other words, you will waste no movement. 

4. Relevant

As you start to formulate your exercise goals, you’ll need to make an honest evaluation of your lifestyle, finances, free time, and current fitness level. From there, ask yourself which goals are going to be the most appropriate? 

For example, you might want to be stronger and healthier as you plan a big hiking trip with your friends in the coming months. So do you really need to spend several hours each week building arm strength? 

Or if you’re finding that you already struggle to make time for yourself and your family each week, using up a large chunk of your free time going to the gym may not serve you. Instead, you may want to consider adding in an activity you can do with your family every week that also makes you feel calm – such as walking or playing a game.

Of course you want to challenge yourself with your goals. But it’s important that they also fit your lifestyle. 

5. Timely

Set a deadline. 

There’s a significant difference between planning to run a 10K race, and planning to run a 10K race in six weeks. There’s an urgency to the latter that will require you to plan your goal in more detail. Then as the big event approaches, you’ll have a sense of whether you’re on track to achieve it. 

And don’t forget to set time aside for recovery days. That’s one of the most crucial goals to set!

Looking for Motivation?

If you’re having trouble setting realistic exercise goals and feel like you’re not making any progress, contact us today.

As a full service Pilates and physical therapy studio, we can assist you in adding this amazing fitness system to your workout while helping you to create and set your own SMART goals.

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