How To Set Fitness Goals

Let’s be honest, starting your fitness journey can be overwhelming at first. Whether you're aiming to shed a few pounds, build muscle, improve cardiovascular health, or improve your athletic ability, setting clear and achievable fitness goals is essential for success. In this guide, we'll explore the steps you can take to establish meaningful fitness goals and stay motivated on your path to a healthier lifestyle.

1. Reflect on Your Why

Before diving into setting specific fitness goals, take some time to reflect on why you want to make changes to your physical health. Understanding your motivations will give you a clear sense of purpose and help you stay committed when faced with challenges. Some example reasons why you may want to start on a fitness journey include:

  • Lose weight for the summer
  • Build muscle to boost your confidence
  • Improve your ability in a specific sport
  • Improve your cardiovascular health
  • Enjoy a higher quality of life for your kids

Whatever reason you have, reflecting on it in the beginning and during your journey will help keep you motivated.

2. Set SMART Goals

Running shoes, workout journal, water bottle, tape measure, and a towel on the floor.

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When setting fitness goals, if they meet the SMART criteria it’s more likely you’ll hit your goals.

  • Specific: Clearly define what you want to achieve. For example, instead of saying, "I want to lose weight," specify how much weight you aim to lose.
  • Measurable: Your goals should be quantifiable so that you can track your progress. This could involve tracking metrics such as weight, body fat percentage, the number of workouts completed per week, or running distance.
  • Achievable: Set goals that are challenging yet realistic based on your current fitness level, lifestyle, and resources. Unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and demotivation. Remember you can always set new goals once you achieve your previous fitness goals.
  • Relevant: Your goals should align with your overall aspirations and priorities. Focus on objectives that are meaningful to you and contribute to your long-term well-being.
  • Time-bound: Establish a timeline for achieving your goals. This creates a sense of urgency and helps you stay accountable. For example, aim to lose a certain amount of weight within three months.

Examples of SMART Fitness Goals

If you’re having some trouble creating SMART fitness goals, check out some sample goals you can alter to fit your lifestyle and needs.

  • To lose eight pounds in four weeks
  • To run a 5k in eight weeks
  • To workout 3 days a week
  • To pass a physical fitness exam in three months
  • To stay active over summer break to be prepared for football season

3. Break Down Long-term Goals

Long-term fitness goals can seem daunting when viewed as a single, overwhelming objective. Break them down into smaller, more manageable milestones. For instance, if your ultimate goal is to run a marathon, your short-term goals might include completing a 5K race, gradually increasing your mileage, and improving your pace over time.

If you have trouble being consistent with your fitness, try starting with a small goal. For instance, set a goal to workout twice a week for a month. Once you hit this goal, create a new goal of working out three times a week for a month. Creating a goal to workout five days a week might seem unreachable in the beginning. Once you’ve hit twice a week then three times a week, working out for five days is much easier to achieve.

4. Track Your Progress

Monitoring your progress is essential for staying on course and making adjustments as needed. Keep a journal, use a fitness app, or utilize a wearable device to record your workouts, nutrition, and any other relevant data. Regularly review your progress to celebrate successes, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary modifications to your approach.

Personally, I’m very competitive. Charity Miles is a great app that gets you moving and it donates money to the charity you select. You can join a group or create your own with your friends. It has a leaderboard that can help motivate you to get your miles in.

Sharing my fitness progress via Apple Fitness is another great motivator for competitive people. If I get a share on a day I haven’t worked out yet, it gets me up and moving to share my own fitness progress.

5. Stay Flexible and Adapt

While it's important to set specific goals, be prepared to adapt them as circumstances change. Life is unpredictable, and you may encounter setbacks or obstacles along the way. Instead of viewing these challenges as failures, see them as opportunities to learn and grow. Adjust your goals accordingly and stay flexible in your approach.

6. Find Support and Accountability

Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or fitness professionals who can encourage and motivate you on your journey. Consider joining group fitness classes, online communities, or hiring a personal trainer for added accountability and guidance.

You can workout with a friend via Apple’s Shareplay feature in the Fitness + app. This can help you stick to a time and date for working out.

Need Help Staying Accountable?

If you're struggling to stay accountable and on track, we can help. S.T.O.M.P Fitness offers personalized 1-on-1 training if you're in the Tampa, FL area.

7. Celebrate Your Achievements

Recognize and celebrate every milestone you reach, no matter how small. Acknowledging your progress boosts confidence, reinforces positive behaviors, and fuels your motivation to continue striving toward your goals.

While celebrating your achievements is essential - be careful not to celebrate in a way that may hinder your future goals. If you reached your goal of losing 10 pounds, try to avoid celebrating with a big cheat meal. This may set you back in your next goal. Instead, choose to celebrate with a new outfit to show off your weight loss or workout clothes to make you more comfortable in your continued fitness journey.

Setting fitness goals is a powerful first step towards achieving a healthier, happier lifestyle. By following these steps and staying committed to your objectives, you can embark on a journey of self-improvement that will not only enhance your physical health but also enrich every aspect of your life. Remember, the key to success lies in setting realistic goals, staying consistent, and embracing the journey with determination and resilience.

We wish you the best of luck on your journey!

Jen and Coach Onelio