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Training Effectively – Goals

This post forms part of the Training Effectively series.

Chances are that if you’re in the gym you’re there for a reason – usually it’s to lose weight or gain muscle. By itself that’s an aspiration not a goal as it’s vague and you’ve no way of really saying yup I made it.

But we can build on it, to continue with the theme of losing weight – how much weight? 30lbs? Great. That’s better. A definite target to aim for but we can do better still. By when? By your brothers wedding in 6 months time. Great.

Now we’ve got a goal.

It’s specific, measurable and has a target date. But it’s some way off and by itself it’s a lot to achieve. Let’s say you lose 2lbs a week – assuming you can do that week in week out it will be 4 months until you’re even half way there. Hardly motivational when you’re 3 weeks in, feeling hungry, and really don’t want to walk through the rain to get to the gym.

And so this is what I’d class as a long term goal. It’s something you can visualise and make plans to achieve and importantly track your progress against but its not going to get you to the gym in the morning.

So you need to go further and break this down into short term goals. I’d suggest these goals should be between 2 weeks and 4 weeks in length. That’s just enough time to achieve something and short enough that it feels close – a little bit of pressure is a great motivator. You’ll know that if you miss that gym session or eat that pizza then it’s going to jeopardise your achieving the goal. It’s also short enough that if things aren’t going as you’d hoped then you can reevaluate your plan (and more on the plan next time) in light of what you’ve learned and still achieve your long term goal.

A good short term goal to go with our previous example might be to lose 3lbs in two weeks.

There’s an important final point about the goals you set – they must be challenging yet achievable. In short they must be realistic. There’s no point setting yourself up to fail or jeopardise your health – a short term goal of losing 10lbs in two weeks would be madness for example. Similarly if you’re serious about making a change then they shouldn’t be so easy that your progress is glacial.

And don’t be afraid to alter your long term goal in light of what you learn attempting your short term goals but be honest with yourself. Changing an achievable long term goal because you keep eating too much pizza is cheating only yourself – you need to cut out the pizza.

Categories: fitness
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  1. August 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm

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