Setting Goals

19 03 2011

Did you have one goal in mind, or multiple targets such as losing weight, getting six-pack abs by spring, packing on 20 pounds of muscle for summer beach trips, doubling your bench press in two months, and dropping your body fat to athletic proportions?
Here are nine sure-fire ways to make your dreamy fitness goal or goals come true:
 

Write down your goals
Whether you want to lose 10 or 20 pounds or make it your goal to be in the gym at least two or three days a week, list your goals on paper and elaborate a detailed plan with specific steps toward reaching them. Then, regularly refer to that paper each day. Keep copies of it in your car, on your desk at work, on the refrigerator, in your bedroom, on the bathroom mirror — anywhere that serves as a constant reminder.

Seek a workout partner
Motivation helps you stick to a program. Whether it’s lifting weights or jogging around the track, sometimes going solo won’t get you far. Arrange workout times each week with a coworker, a buddy, or your wife or girlfriend. Training together can be more encouraging than trying to meet goals alone.

Hire a personal trainer
A certified personal trainer might be the best investment and motivational tool. If that home gym you received as a holiday gift is collecting dust, a personal trainer will enable you to put it to good use. In-home personal trainers can be pricey, but they pay quick dividends in a shorter period than training alone to reach your goals.

Track your progress
Just as you wrote down your goals and strategy in the beginning, what can be more inspiring than seeing your progress in the mirror or noting your increasing bench press numbers? Record your progress on paper daily or weekly as another powerful source of motivation to keep you going.

Visualize your goals
It’s not enough to have a goal (or even several goals); you must actually visualize being leaner or more muscular. This will help you achieve both your short- and long-term goals. For example, if you are trying to add two more reps to your bench press, you must mentally prepare yourself right before you lift. Close your eyes and visualize that you will surpass the eight reps you achieved in your previous workout and eke out nine or 10 reps, so that you will be able to add weight for the next set or the next workout.

Take it slowly
You know the clich, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Even if you lose one pound in 10 days, or drop 2% body fat in six weeks, that’s progress. Don’t rush or become obsessed with reaching multiple goals, as frustration can wreck your game plan. Setting too many goals at once is unrealistic and potentially unrewarding. Opt for one goal at a time.

Be realistic
Know beforehand that there will be distractions on the road to your goals, such as work, school or family commitments that might disrupt your workout schedule. Therefore, set obtainable goals in a reasonable time period.

Be flexible
If you can’t get to the gym or do your workout one morning because of a snowstorm or a meeting at work, don’t fret. Either reschedule it for later, or do a modified 10-minute workout of upper and lower body exercises, such as pushups and squats, and a lower intensity activity such as a brisk walk around the block on your lunch hour. Don’t feel guilty or upset for not getting to the gym. You still burned some calories and promoted your heart health with the brisk walk, and those body weight pushups and squats benefited your muscles and bones!

Take a day off
You won’t go off the deep end by taking a day off from your scheduled workout. Enjoy yourself by going to a movie, reading a book, dining out, etc. It could be a welcome change to avert the monotonous routine, help you regain focus and prevent obsession, which may have turned off family and friends during the first days and weeks you began striving toward your goals.

Reach your goals: Congratulations! You dropped those 20 pounds, got the six-pack abs, doubled your bench press, or ran three miles non-stop, and achieved your goals. Now you have two choices: (1) Maintain your fitness goals or better yet, (2) Set other reasonable, reachable goals so you’re not complacent, but continually stimulated and physically active in a lifelong quest for fitness and health. The decision is yours.

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