How to Set SMART Fitness Goals
SMART goals were developed by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in their 1981 article, “There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives.” Since then, this popular method for creating goals has become a standard practice in both professional and personal settings.
You may have learned how to set SMART goals back in grade school, but perhaps you need a quick refresher on how to use this popular acronym, or maybe you’ve never heard of it before—either way, here’s a quick breakdown of what SMART fitness goals are and how you can use them to set yourself up for success.
What is SMART?
SMART is an acronym—it stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. To create a SMART goal for yourself, you should aim to hit all five of the key points; however, it is important to note that there may be some worthwhile goals you set that do not have all five components.
Let’s walk through what each of these terms mean and how you can use them to improve your fitness goals.
How to Set SMART Fitness Goals
Make it SPECIFIC.
Creating goals that are too vague or arbitrary can make it difficult for you to create a plan of action for achieving those goals, which is why narrowing down your goals and making them more specific is so important. Take a moment to think about your current fitness goals and see if you can define them a bit more to help you understand exactly what it is you want to achieve
For example, one of the most common goals we hear at 9Round is that people want to get fit. But “getting fit” could mean so many different things, and what you want may not be the same as what someone else wants—and it will determine what your fitness routine should look like.
To make this common fitness goal more specific, you first need to define what “being fit” looks like to you. Does it mean having a slimmer figure and fitting into a specific size of clothing? Or perhaps, it means having well-defined muscles and a greater sense of strength in your everyday life. Either way, your fitness plan will be determined based on these goals, so you want them to be as specific as possible to help guide you in the right direction.
As you continue to work through the SMART method, you’ll narrow down and specify your goals even more, but this first step will help you out tremendously as you plan for how you can achieve your goals.
Pick something MEASURABLE.
How could you possibly know if you’re reached your goal if there’s no way to measure it? Basing your goal on something you can measure will make it much easier for you to not only recognize when you’ve achieved that goal, but also help you track your progress more efficiently, which can end up motivating you to keep going.
Working with two common examples (losing weight and gaining muscle), here are two examples of what a specific and measurable fitness goal could look like:
- I want to lose a total of 35 pounds.
- I want to be able to lift 25-pound weights at the gym.
Both examples provide a definitive and measurable end goal that can be tracked throughout your fitness journey with ease.
Keep it ATTAINABLE.
Ultimately, you set new fitness goals with the intention of challenging yourself for the better—and while the sky is the limit, you should still try to keep things attainable. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t have big goals in mind, but it does mean you need to set realistic expectations for yourself when it comes to how and when you will achieve those goals.
This is especially important for fitness goals in particular, as the results you want will likely require a longer timeline and some major lifestyle changes, which are going to be harder to implement. One way to keep your fitness goals more attainable is to use what’s called micro goals.
Micro goals are smaller, more manageable tasks that will help you make progress on your bigger fitness goals. To figure out your specific micro goals, you can start listing out all the daily or weekly steps it will take for you to reach your big-picture goal—these are your micro goals.
Using the example of wanting to lose 35 pounds, here are some sample micro goals:
- Work out at 9Round at least 3 times per week for one month straight
- Drink 28 more ounces of water per day before bedtime
- Try a new Member Portal recipe at least once a week
- Avoid eating unhealthy snacks or sweets for two weeks straight
- Do one active rest activity on a day off at least once per week
By breaking down your goals into micro goals, you’re setting more realistic expectations for what you can achieve, so you don’t feel burnt out thinking about how much work you still have left to do. Plus, you also give yourself some smaller victories to celebrate along the way, which will help you feel a sense of accomplishment as you’re working toward your bigger goal.
Choose what’s RELEVANT.
Your fitness goals should be relevant to your lifestyle and worth the effort they will take to achieve. You can determine if your goals are relevant by looking at why you set them in the first place. Maybe, you want to lose 35 pounds in 10 months because you have a big event coming up, such as a wedding or overseas vacation—or maybe you want to get stronger because it will help you tackle your everyday life with more confidence.
Pinpointing what makes a specific goal relevant to you will add a new layer of motivation that’s more powerful in the long run. This motivation may be the difference between you chasing after your goals or letting them be forgotten.
Put a TIMER to it.
Everyone’s favorite day to start a new fitness routine is…tomorrow. This is especially true when you don’t have a specific end date in mind for your fitness goals, as you don’t feel the pressure to get started right away. It’s easy to put things off until you feel “Ready,” but this is simply an excuse that’s holding you back from what you truly want.
Give yourself some motivation and direction by adding a specific end date or timer to your fitness goal. This will help you map out what your progress should look like and how hard you will need to work to reach your end goal. For example, if you’re trying to lose 35 pounds in 10 months, then you know you need to lose around 3.5 pounds per month to reach your goal.