Any successful body transformation effort has a few key ingredients. You need to work your ass off. You need to have the right training program. You need to eat in a way that supports your training.
But one key ingredient is too-often overlooked: setting definitive goals.
Setting powerful fitness goals can mean the difference between mediocre outcomes and stunning results. These goal-setting strategies will help you get the most out of your efforts.
Set the right kind of goals
Your fitness goals are a blank canvas. It’s your life and your body. You can train and eat for whatever outcome you choose.
But some goals are better (i.e. more effective) at getting you the stronger, leaner body you want.
Your goals should motivate and excite you
What do you really want to accomplish? Forget all your past attempts and fears of failure. What does your ideal body look like?
Dwell in that for a moment. If the answer is intimidating, you’re on to something. Powerful fitness goals take you out of your comfort zone. Wanting to lose a few pounds is admirable. But it’s small.
Don’t think about what you can probably accomplish. Instead consider what is humanly possible. Think about the body you really want. How strong is it? How much does it weigh? How lean is it? What are its measurements?
Answer those questions. That’s how you set powerful goals.
Your goals should be realistic
Big goals are important. But you're not going to become Mr. Olympia. Push the envelope. But don’t try to push it to China.
If you only have a 3 hours per week to train, you’re not going to complete an Ironman.
Embracing your limitations is powerful, because it allows you to set the most realistic, achievable fitness goals. Whether they’re logistical or genetic, know your limits. And then try to push a little further.
Regarding your genetic limitations, there’s some good news.
Almost everyone will hit a training plateau at some point. But almost no one reaches the limits of their genetically-determined physical potential. Not even close. If you reach your genetic potential, you’ll know it. Because you’ll be in the best possible shape (literally), and everyone will want to rip your clothes off.
Your goals should be specific and measurable
Vague goals are like a road trip with no GPS. You may get there eventually, but you might drive around in circles.
You probably want to burn fat and build muscle. But as far as fitness goals go, they are too general. And until you put a number on them, they are impossible to quantify.
How many pounds of fat do you want to lose? What do you want your chest and waist measurements to be next summer? How many pounds do you want to add to your squat? What size shirt or dress do you want to be wearing in six months? You get the picture.
Become friends with your camera, a scale, a tape measure and your training log. When you accurately measure your progress, it will motivate you. If things aren’t going well, you will know when to course correct.
Set realistic deadlines
You’re not going to lose 30 pounds in 30 days (unless you have something removed). If you need to lose 30 pounds, you can absolutely do it. But if you want to keep it off, it will realistically take you 5+ months.
I’m not trying to bum anybody out, but be realistic about WHEN you can accomplish something — it's important to actually getting it done.
You can safely lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat per week. For lean mass gain, expect to gain .5 to 1 pound of muscle per week.
If you’re looking to lose fat while gaining lean muscle, settle in for the long game. Expect slow, steady results. You’ll get there. But probably not by next month.
Write it down. Look at it every day.
Once you set powerful, achievable fitness goals, they have to live somewhere outside of your head. And you have to remind yourself of them every day. Repetition of the message back to yourself is crucial.
Write down your goals affirmatively in the present tense:
I weigh 175 pounds and have 10% body fat on April 30.
Write all of your goals this way. Write them in multiple places. Read them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Read, reaffirm, repeat.
You get bombarded with hundreds of ads every day telling you to buy crap that you don’t need. Why not get bombarded with a message from yourself about something you need and want?
Don’t go tell the world…yet
When you set motivating, exciting goals, it’s natural to want to share them. After all, you’re going to need support from your family and friends.
But when you tell everybody, a funny thing happens. People get excited. They Encourage you. And you start to feel a premature sense of accomplishment. That’s not a good thing.
Goal setting studies have shown that people who share their intentions with a lot of other people are less likely to accomplish them. Translation: if you mostly keep it to yourself, you’re more likely to get it done.
So share selectively. When you reach your goals, you can tell everyone you know. But until then, play your cards close to your chest.
Set powerful goals now
Before you read another fitness article, or search the internet for the best training and diet advice, grab a pen (or your notes app), and write down your goals.
Define your fitness road map. Where exactly do you want to go? And by when? Write down your goals now.
Be specific. Be audacious. Be realistic. And look at them every damn day.