How to Set S.M.A.R.T Fitness Goals—And Actually Achieve Them
We understand—staying on course when it comes to working out and prioritizing our health can be challenging, even when we are doing it in the comfort of our home. We can often get sidetracked by our jobs, partners, kids, or social life. And when we don’t reach our fitness destinations as quickly as we’d like to, we can become discouraged and feel like we’ve lost our way, wandering through workouts aimlessly.
Whether you are a regular fitness enthusiast or just started working out, setting realistic and attainable goals for your current or future fitness journey is important.
By implementing S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals, you can better align your path to success—whether that’s improving athletic performance, getting into a regular workout routine, or improving your overall physical and mental health.
What Are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Setting goals with a S.M.A.R.T. framework makes it 100% clear whether you achieved or missed your goal. When you’re crystal clear on whether you’ve hit a goal, you can learn from the outcome and set even better, more impactful goals in the future.
How Do You Create A S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Goal?
When it comes to fitness-related goals, S.M.A.R.T. breaks down like this:
One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is not being specific enough. Saying “I want to work out more” is fantastic! You’re putting that intention out into the world. But you’re also keeping it pretty vague.
How much more often do you want to work out? Exactly what type of training will you do? When will you know that you’ve achieved this goal? By answering these questions, you can set more specific goals that will guarantee a successful road ahead.
When it comes to fitness, no achievement is insignificant, even when it's a smaller goal. Whether it’s calories burned, heart rate reached, or amount of weight lifted, setting measurable fitness goals helps you track progress and recognize your accomplishments along the way.
Make sure to have some sort of system that allows you to track your fitness journey. For example, the advanced camera technology in MIRROR’s smart fitness mirror is an excellent tool that gives you real-time feedback to make in-workout adjustments and track everything from your heart rate to your calories burned for easy progress measurements. This allows you to reference your fitness progress at any time and tweak your health and fitness goals if needed.
There’s a difference between a goal being challenging and a goal being achievable. Especially in terms of fitness, setting a realistic, attainable goal on what you can achieve in a set time frame means avoiding injury or developing unhealthy habits, whether it's a short-term goal or a long-term goal.
Setting a goal of cooking healthy recipes for dinner every night, for example, is great in theory. But if you know you work overtime most days or take the kids to soccer practice twice a week, this may not be attainable. Instead, try a more attainable goal like meal prepping every Sunday, when you know you’ll have a couple of spare hours. By setting more realistic goals like this, you can set yourself up for success before your journey even begins.
Exercise goals should be relevant to reaching your ultimate destination, but to be successful, your goals should also be relevant to your lifestyle and current fitness level. For instance, if you work 60 hours a week, setting a goal of working out for an hour every day, five days a week, can lead you to burnout within the first week.
Instead, start with the more relevant goal to work out 20 minutes a day, or to start your day with 10 minutes of yoga. With MIRROR’s smart home gym, you have access to over 10,000 workout classes for every fitness level so you can find workouts that are relevant to you, your lifestyle, and your goals.
Setting a specific deadline for your goals will help keep them a priority. Plus, when you set smaller, more attainable goals within those big-picture goals, your timeframe can be shorter. That means you can accomplish goals sooner—whether it’s adding an extra ten minutes to your run or doing five push-ups on your toes—keeping you motivated to continue progressing.
Taking S.M.A.R.T. criteria into account when setting your fitness goals can help you reach your ultimate destination. With these goals, you can plan your course, track progress, and avoid roadblocks that could potentially derail your progress.
When setting your goals, think about progressive overload—a concept in which you progressively challenge yourself to meet strength and endurance goals. It’s a vital aspect of fitness. Think about it—if you’re running on flat terrain for 30 minutes every week for a year, it’ll certainly get easier, but you won’t be growing as an athlete. That’s why upping the frequency, intensity, and duration of your workouts is not only important to achieve your fitness goals, but also to improve them, even the S.M.A.R.T. ones.
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Steps to S.M.A.R.T. Goal Setting
Before you set your S.M.A.R.T. goals, think about the fitness destination you want to reach and why it’s important to you.
- Do you want to run a marathon?
- Do you want to improve your current fitness level to feel more confident?
- Do you want to build muscle?
- Are you looking to improve your mind-body connection?
No matter your reason, understanding why you’re working toward your goals can keep you motivated throughout your journey (even when you’re sweating through that last set of burpees, or counting down jumping jacks). Remembering your why will give you that extra push you need to cross the finish line.
Once you’ve set your end point, you can start mapping out the health and fitness goals that will drive you there successfully. A great way to map your fitness goals is through periodization. This refers to a training regimen in which you set up a sequence of blocks, with a specific goal for each. For example, for six weeks you’d work toward running 10 miles with no breaks or rest stops. Then, for the next six weeks, you’d set a new goal, say, bench pressing 100 pounds.
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What are some Examples of S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Goals?
If you’re just starting your fitness journey, your goal may simply be to make health and fitness a regular part of your lifestyle or start training regularly. But that type of broad goal may leave you wandering along the fitness highway, doubling back when you feel you’ve lost your way, making stops to ask for directions, and getting distracted by roadside attractions that can throw you off your course.
When your destination is vague, you can’t properly plan out how to get there. Fortunately, S.M.A.R.T. fitness goal setting can offer you a clear direction by breaking down your journey, step by step.
- Specify your fitness destination. Rather than saying “I want to work out more,” specify how many times a week you want to work out and what factors you need to take into account when it comes to achieving your goal. Try “I want to start exercising 5 times a week to feel confident and more energized” instead. With a specific goal and a reason for achieving it, you can better plan out the steps you need to take to get there.
- Create measurable goals to track your progress. “Working out more” isn’t really measurable. “More” could mean different things to different people, depending on their fitness level or lifestyle. “Working out 5 times a week” is measurable. You can clearly count your workouts each week, and track whether you’ve completed it or not. This gives you a clear way to measure your progress every week, know you’re going in the right direction, and give yourself a high five as you come closer to achieving your goal.
- Keep your goals attainable. If you’re new to health and fitness, that’s okay. We commend you for taking the step to starting on this rewarding journey; however, jumping right into 5 workouts a week may seem daunting, and may be unattainable right off the back. Systematically increasing your workout frequency each week, on the other hand, is attainable and easy to track. With an achievable goal like this, you can focus on each week’s accomplishments rather than becoming intimidated by the idea of weeks of workouts ahead of you. By tackling one week at a time, you help prove to yourself that you got this!
- Ensure your goals are relevant. If your ultimate goal is to work out 5 times a week, setting a specific, measurable, and achievable goal will help guarantee you reach your fitness destination.
If you know you only have time to work out three days a week because of career, family, or social commitments, however, you’ll need to readjust your S.M.A.R.T. goals so you can stick to them. At the end of the day, setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is all about creating a roadmap to fitness success that works with you, not against you. Try setting smaller goals to start—say, working out 3 times a week instead, until you know you can realistically work toward that larger goal.
- Set a realistic timeframe. While you may be incorporating running into your new fitness routine, reaching your ultimate goal shouldn’t feel like a race—and won’t set you up for long-term success. Try incorporating periodization, with multiple sets of subsequent goals. For example, set a period of 6 weeks to achieve your goal of working out 5 times a week, then break it down from there. In week one, commit to working out twice a week. In week 2, add another workout to your week, and so on.
If you weren’t able to reach your goal, that’s okay, too. By adjusting your roadmap and adding a few extra stops along the way, you can guarantee you’ll reach your fitness destination with energy, strength, and confidence.
Here are a few more examples of S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals to get you started:
- I want to gain 1 pound in lean muscle mass every month
- I want to run a mile without stopping within the next month
- I want to do a 10-minute yoga session twice a week
- I want to do 20 push ups on my toes without stopping by December
How S.M.A.R.T. Goals Can Help Guide Your Fitness Journey
By setting S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals, you give yourself measurable progress you can celebrate every single week, whether that’s completing ten more seconds of high knees during your high-intensity workout or lifting two pounds heavier during your upper body routine.
With S.M.A.R.T. goals, you’re not working toward a distant idea of where you want to go and what you want to achieve. You’re already achieving your goals and having amazing experiences and discoveries along the way.
Plus, with this type of journey, you actually increase your motivation to stick to your workouts. And that’s not just the endorphins talking! Studies show that, in relation to physical activity, setting multi-component, progressive goals and receiving regular feedback are effective in increasing both physical activity and overall exercise enjoyment.
Work Out Smarter with MIRROR
When we set high goals for ourselves, we expect to see huge changes. But if you're only focused on the destination, it can be hard to recognize your day-to-day progress. Whether you’re looking to increase the amount of weight you can bench press or lengthen the distance you’re able to run, setting S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals can help guide you through your fitness journey and help you recognize every achievement you make along the way.
Here at MIRROR, we see you working toward your goals, and we want to celebrate your achievements, too.
When used in combination with your S.M.A.R.T. goals, MIRROR can help you see the path to your successful fitness journey.
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