Get game-changing results by upgrading and using SMART goals.
By Klaudius Petrulis
Do you work out? If you’re reading this, you probably do.
But are you getting the most out of your efforts?
Keep reading to see how you can change your approach for game and life-changing results.
When people go to the gym they usually have an idea of why they’re going. Either it is fatloss, muscle gain, to gain definition, or my favourite, to get stronger so the rest of these are easier to accomplish. Now, the average gymgoer who does this will get results, albeit average results. But what happens when you start using and enforcing SMART goals?
SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. I will go through each one briefly so you can understand and quickly implement these into your training. Sitting down with a pen and paper for 10 minutes and thinking about what you want will be the best thing you ever did.
Specific: I’ll be honest here. Many people set pretty lame goals. As a personal trainer I’ve heard the ‘tone up’ or ‘lose weight’ answers at least a few hundred times. It made me want to pull my hair out. Tone up where? Lose weight? You can lose weight by getting into a machining accident. This is a crucial part that you do not want to skimp on!
Example: Let’s just say you say you want to just “see abs” – yes you may one day see your abs, but they won’t not necessarily be defined or ripped. Your arms and legs may still have flab and you may still have a lot of fat on your upper body. Technically, you can see your abs so you achieved your goal, so now you just float… hoping your results will get better. Chances are, they won’t. Your fitness and lifestyle goals will lead the charge for the results you want.
Now, let’s upgrade your goals a bit.
Upgraded Goal: Have a well defined mid-section like Brad Pitt from Fight Club or, for ladies, Halle Berry when she was a Bond Girl. Awesome. Now we have direction! On to the next section!
While all parts of the SMART goal upgrade system are very important, this may be the most important one. How will you know if you’re getting changes if you don’t keep measurements? For example, let’s say you start at 160lbs 20% bodyfat and your goal is to look like Brad Pitt. Brad Pitt was 160lbs when shooting for Fight Club, but his bodyfat percentage was closer to 7%. Now you have a measureable goal. Take note of the metrics most important to you and KEEP TRACK! This is your guiding light. Without measurements, you will not know what direction you’re heading in!
This can be used in more areas than fat loss.
A few examples:
Get bigger arms -> Gain 3 inches of muscle on my arms
Deadlift more weight -> Deadlift 365lbs
Run more -> Run 5km and keep improving your time each run
This leads us to the next section. How is this stuff achievable?
Achievable: This really is the HOW of this process. It is also a way to double check your previous answers and add more clarity to them. The main idea of this section is to take your upgraded goal and ask how you’re going to get there. How will I look like Brad Pitt or Halle Berry? How will I get to 160lbs 7% bodyfat? How will I improve my 5km run time? You’re pretty much making a plan here. If you have no idea what you’re doing or how you’re going to accomplish it, perhaps you should speak to that fitness nut friend you have or speak to a qualified trainer or coach to help get you started.
If you have the information on how to accomplish these goals, go for it!
If you need some inspiration I’ll start you off with some very basic examples:
Brad Pitt/Halle Berry Goal – Eat Clean, Low Carbs, Increase Protein and water intake. Train 4-5x a week cardio. 3-4x a week resistance. Focus on a caloric deficit in your diet to get leaner.
Get Bigger Arms: Increase training volume and train 4x per week. Concentrate on muscle contraction and focus on negative aspects of repetitions
Bigger Deadlift for a Better Life: Get on a program like Wendler’s 5/3/1 or just lift and increase your reps and weights weekly depending on your deadlift goal. Focus on getting your form better to prevent you from getting injured. Work on accessory lifts and increase your grip-strength. Get a workout buddy or coach to hold you accountable.
5 Kilometers of Fun: Run until you gain better endurance and then pick up the speed. Race the clock. I’ll be honest here, I’m not a runner, but I’d venture that if you’re just starting out with running, 5km is a lot to start out with. If walking 1km is a challenge, then running 5km may not be Realistic. This actually leads into our next section…
Realistic: This section is actually very simple, but it is a reality check. It is very difficult to deadlift 600lbs if you can’t deadlift 135lbs. I do not want to be a downer here, but let me give you a scenario. Your goal is to compete in the 2020 Olympic Games but your favourite past-time is sitting on the couch eating Rolo’s and Cheez-its while watching TV for hours on end, in this case, there may be some goals to set before hitting the 2020 Games. Maybe like signing up and qualifying for regionals first. Start simple. Keep it realistic and then move on to bigger and better goals. Goals should always be evolving. Otherwise you and your progress will stagnate, and let’s be clear here, stagnation sucks.
Timed: Okay. You’ve started eating healthy. You’re ready to look like your favourite celebrity. Let’s do it! Wait just a moment. As a coach I help clients set timed goals for a reason. If you do not have a deadline you will not put in the effort you need in order to achieve your goal. Important, huh? Remember that new goals should be set as soon as you accomplish your old ones. This keeps you going and heading in a positive direction. Remember to be realistic here.
Be honest with yourself and do not set extreme timelines. This means give yourself a little room. Do not try to lose 30 pounds in 30 days. I repeat, do not try to lose 30 pounds in 30 days. Good things take time. This does not mean allow yourself an unlimited amount of time to accomplish a goal. Like I said before, this leads to failure. Instead, set a flexible but assertive goal deadline. There are circumstances that require you to set firm dates like powerlifting meets or athletic competitions, and obviously these should take precedence. So what have we learned in this section? Instead of “work for a beach body this Summer” we should see something like “160lbs, 8%bf by June 1st.”
This next section is a bonus section but I think it’s very important. The reason it’s a bonus is because SMART sounds cool but SMARTW doesn’t sound very… smart.
BONUS SECTION – WHY?: This can be a very personal section, and it should be. Your goals are your goals for a reason. What is that reason? Why are you doing this? Connecting your goals to an emotion or a deeper reason helps you pull from a well of strength when you’re feeling beat or tired. It is the foundation of what you’re doing. Even if you don’t have an emotional basis, write down why you’re doing it and what you’re doing. This is important. This is something you can go back to and use to reinvigorate yourself.
Wrap-up: So there we have it, SMART(W) Goals broken down so you can get the most out of your training and the most out of your life. So, what’s the next step? I’ll give you a few more tips below on how to get the most out of your goal-setting session. Also, realise this system can be used in almost any aspect of life, from business, to relationships, and yes, to fitness and health goals. One of my favourite quotes is, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Remember this the next time you jump into a long-term commitment with no plan. Always upgrade your goals and be SMART.
Specific: What do I want to accomplish? What can stop me from achieving this goal? How can I remove these barriers? Benefits of accomplishing goal? How will I feel when I achieve this goal?
Measureable: How will I gauge my progress? How do I know when I’ve reached my goal? Which metrics do I need? Do I need to use a measuring tape, scale, stopwatch, or mirror?
Achievable: How can I make this happen? Where can I make this happen? Who can help me? What do I need to make it happen?
Realistic: Can I make this happen? Do I have the current skills or knowledge? Do I need to ramp up or ramp down my goals? What would make this goal more realistic? Do I feel good about this goal?
Timed: When do I want to accomplish this by? Is this an acceptable timeline?
Why: Why am I doing this? What is my motivation? How will I feel when I get where I want? Why?
There we go. Now stop reading, pull out a pen and paper or a computer machine and spend the next 10 or more minutes on setting your goals! Trust me, it’s one of the best 10 minutes you’ll spend this year.
The SMART system is often credited to Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept and has been used in business development since 1981.