Are your Fitness Goals SMART?

Written by Coryn Littler

January 31, 2020

Fitness Testing | News

Setting goals increases your motivation and when you’re motivated, you achieve your goals quicker!   

There are three main reasons to set firm goals:

  • Develop new skills and strategies to improve performance
  • Focus attention on a specific task
  • Increase motivation, through intrinsic (internal) and extrinsic (external) rewards

To maintain a high level of motivation with your fitness program,  it’s important to:

  • Make it Fun, Fun, Fun – the more fun, the more likely you’ll keep doing what you are doing!
  • Incentivise – give yourself a reward when you achieve short and long term goals
  • Involve significant others – increase the chance of sticking to your fitness program by involving a partner or friend to keep you on track
  • Setting short and long term goals


Rather than just setting general goals such as ‘getting fit, toning up or losing weight’ try to create targets that are definable and achievable

Choose just one or two goals at a time to ensure you can stay focused without being overwhelmed with the task ahead.

Too many goals are confusing and can get in the way of your objective.

Try starting with one short term and one long term goal:

Short Term: Normally 6 – 12 weeks duration and used as a stepping stone towards achieving your long-term goals.

Long-term: Normally the ultimate or ideal goal, usually set over a 6 – 12 month time-frame.

The best way to set goals, is to keep them SMART:


Your goal should state exactly what is to be achieved – the clearer and more well defined the goal is, the shorter the path will be to achieving it.

For example, a goal to ‘lose weight’ is not specific enough, where as to ‘lose 2kg’ is tangible or real – something you can work towards and obtain.


A goal must be able to be valued precisely to determine if and when the goal is achieved. Words such as ‘improve or decrease’ should only be used if followed by specific value, number or quantity, as noted above.


A goal should be realistic and set to a level that provides a challenge – not so demanding it is out of reach. Therefore, a goal needs to be possible to achieve and realistic enough there is a very reasonable chance you will achieve it.

It is important to set realistic goals that don’t set you up for failure.

For example, you may want to lose 10kg in one week and think this is a realistic goal.

But it is not.

To determine if a goal is achievable, identify the steps necessary to achieve it and determine if they can be accomplished.

For example, to run a marathon you may need to be complete a running program of up to 80km per week. If this is not achievable, your ability to achieve this goal may be compromised.

Rewarding and/or Relevant:

Its important you “own” the goal and that you are doing it for yourself. Your goal must align to your objectives. If you have a clear reason for wanting to achieve a goal, it will be more gratifying when you do.


A goal should be time-bound i.e. have a specific time-frame in order for it to be achieved.

By setting a start and end date, your motivation will increase significantly.


Ask yourself these questions:

  • Exactly what do I wish to achieve?
  • How do I measure it and know when I have achieved it?
  • Can I achieve this realistically and what steps will get me there?
  • What are my reasons for wanting to achieve this goal?
  • When am I going start and when do I need to achieve it by?

An example of a SMART Goal is: 

I will perform at least 5 unassisted dips (specific) by adding assisted dip options to my training plan twice per week starting Monday (attainable). Then, I will systematically reduce the assistance by at least 1 per week (realistic), recording my progress and achievements with fitness testing (measurable) at the start, middle and end of the three month training phase [insert date] (timely), in order to be assessed by the club trainer and earn a place on the club leader-board (rewarding)

Other types of Goals: 

When you start learning more about goal setting, you’ll discover there are a few variations of the SMART goal acronym, but all will lead to the same outcome.

There are also other types of goal setting terms, like;

  • Self-referenced goals: based on self-improvement, such as improving specific fitness test scores.
  • Competitive goals: based on comparison to others.
  • Mastery goals: based on the development and performance of a new skill.

The most important thing to do initially though, is get started! 

Learn more about Fitness Institute’s range of health and fitness courses HERE.

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