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Goal Setting for Weight Loss, Muscle Gain or Fitness

I have written plenty of articles that have mentioned goal setting. In a blog earlier this week, "Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail…at Weight Loss, Fitness or Muscle Gain!", I discussed the idea that you need a plan in order to achieve a particular goal. It is important to note that, if your plan has you heading toward a poorly defined goal, then you're planning to head to an unknown destination!

The first step to achieving a weight loss, muscle gain or fitness goal is to identify exactly what it is you want to achieve. Going back to my road map analogy from a couple of days ago, wouldn't it be silly to drive toward a 1km long road without a street number? Of course it is! Fitness is exactly the same story - you need to know exactly where you are going.

Here are some examples of really poorly defined goals:

  1. "I want to lose fat and gain muscle"
  2. "I want to be able to run for longer distances"
  3. "I want to tone up my stomach, bum and thighs"

I'm not saying that they are bad goals - they are just poorly defined goals. So, what makes a well defined goal?

I want to discuss something that was introduced to me a couple of years ago at a fitness convention. It's called S.M.A.R.T. goal setting:

  • S - Specific
  • M - Measurable
  • A - Attainable
  • R - Realistic
  • T - Timely

Specific goals have a clearly defined destination. You know exactly what you want to achieve, without question. To make the above goals specific, you could add:

  1. I want to lose 4kg of fat and gain 2kg of muscle
  2. I want to be able to run for 5km non-stop
  3. I want to reduce my waistline by 5cm, my buttocks by 8cm and my thighs by 4cm

Measurable goals are quantitative in an objective fashion. The three specific examples above are measurable because we can quantify exactly what it is that is to be achieved. You can therefore assess whether or not you are progressing toward this goal.

A non-measurable goal is inferior because you do not know whether or not you are making progress! For example, if you want to "look better in the mirror", what happens when you're in a grumpy mood? The key is to not be subjective.

Attainable and realistic goals mean that it can be achieved. Often, you will need the assistance of a professional to advise you whether or not a particular goal is achievable. A perfect example is from many younger male clients who want to gain 10+kg of muscle within a 12 week period. Unless you are genetically gifted (which some people are), this is highly improbable.

Ultimately, you do not want to be striving for something that is never going to be achieved.

Timely goals are vital. If you stick with the above goal examples, namely:

  1. I want to lose 4kg of fat and gain 2kg of muscle
  2. I want to be able to run for 5km non-stop
  3. I want to reduce my waistline by 5cm, my buttocks by 8cm and my thighs by 4cm

...when are you going to achieve them by? There is nothing to keep you accountable! If you don't start next week, then what's the problem? There is always the week after (which hardly ever comes by the way).

So, set yourself a time limit - but again you need to be realistic in setting this time!

Here are my S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  1. I want to lose 4kg of fat and gain 2kg of muscle in 12 weeks.
  2. I want to be able to run for 5km non-stop for my work's outdoor activity date on August 25th.
  3. I want to reduce my waistline by 5cm, my buttocks by 8cm and my thighs by 4cm for my wedding on March 6th.

Much better, don't you think? Now, you can go ahead and plan your way toward achieving your goals!

Goal setting is something that we focus on a great deal at Amino Z Personal Training. For that reason, we offer highly comprehensive assessments that measure your body fat, girth measurements, lean mass, fitness, strength, flexibility and various other factors in an objective and measurable fashion. Once those figures are obtained, goal setting is easy. Better yet, it is easy to see the progress that is being made over a period of time when we perform a re-assessment!

5 thoughts on “Goal Setting for Weight Loss, Muscle Gain or Fitness”

  • [...] course, these should be “S.M.A.R.T.” goals, of which I discussed in a previous goal setting blog [...]

  • Kyle Aaron

    I've always preferred something like "action plan" for the "A". Attainable just means the same as realistic, why say the same thing twice? "Action plan" or "accomplishment-oriented" or something like that gives emphasis to "okay, how do we do this?" and fits well in the middle.

    That said, I agree with the article. The best workout is the one you stick to, and having specific and measurable goals helps a lot with motivation. If I just say "I want to gain muscle," well there is always more muscle to gain and so how do I know when to feel good about myself? I'll always be unhappy and end up giving up.

    But if I say, "I will gain 5kg of muscle by this time next year," then if I do it in 9 months instead of 12 I can pat myself on the back, if after 12 months I've only managed 3kg, I didn't achieve my goal but at least I know what my next goal should be, and I can feel good about what I've achieved so far.

    • admin

      Great point raised Kyle with the "A" for "action plan", or something along those lines. I agree, a goal is no use if it isn't put into action.

      Also I completely agree with the point raised when quantifying muscle gain. That's where it get's tricky because you don't always know what is and isn't realistic. If you've tried your heart out, followed a smart approach and have fallen short by a couple of kilograms, you have still probably achieved all that you are capable of anyway. So yes, you should be very proud of yourself - just re-assess your goals as you move forward based on this information.

  • [...] Before you even consider submitting your 12 week challenge entry form, you need to have a clear idea of exactly what you want to accomplish. In other words, you need goals. I recommend you refer to a previous post of mine on goal setting for weight loss, muscle gain and fitness. [...]

  • [...] It is also important to determine your specific goals. It is not sufficient to think that you want to lose some weight. You need to be specific and measurable when developing your goals. Furthermore, you need to write them down and set a deadline. You may be interested in reading an article that I published on goal setting. [...]

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