The new year is a great time to set fitness goals and begin your journey toward greater physical well-being. Whether you’re looking to build more muscle, increase your endurance or simply lead a healthier lifestyle, goal-setting is critical to achieving tangible results you can be proud of.
If you’ve got big fitness goals this new year, then our guide to fitness goal-setting will help you set realistic goals you can measure. We’ll also provide some techniques and tools to keep track of your progress, prevent injury and overcome some common obstacles to goal achievement.
Below are 10 steps toward achieving your fitness goals this new year.
1. Make Your Goals Personalized
Fitness goals should always be set individually, meaning your goals should be personal and realistic. Ask yourself what you care about and what motivates you, as well as what doesn’t. Avoid setting goals that are too high or too low for your current fitness level.
To make your goals more personalized and realistic consider the following factors:
- How much physical activity do you do currently?
- What has and hasn’t worked when setting past fitness goals?
- What are some health or mobility issues or injuries you need to consider?
It’s also valuable to reward yourself with something exciting for when you do attain your goal, such as a vacation to your favorite spot or a high-ticket item you’ve been wanting. The more we can personalize our goals, the more motivated we feel to stick with them.
2. Know the Role of Diet
Exercise and diet go hand in hand. Diet has the power to multiply your fitness results or it can undo the progress you make.
The relationship between diet and exercise is quite simple—exercise burns the calories you consume through diet. Eating too many calories for the amount of energy you burn, leads to weight gain, while the opposite leads to weight loss.
One study of women ages 50-75 found that compared to setting either diet or exercise goals, the women who had set both diet and exercise goals had significantly better weight loss results. Similar research has found that people obtain better results when they follow programs that incorporate both diet and exercise, rather than exercise only.
When you increase your fitness levels, you must take in enough macronutrients—fats, carbohydrates and protein—to promote healthy muscle building. A health coach can provide you with a tailored plan that considers specific dietary requirements that support your fitness goals.
3. Set SMART Fitness Goals You Can Measure
Experts recommend using the SMART goal-setting system to achieve your fitness goals, making them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. We mentioned that goals need to be personal and realistically achievable. But you also need to be able to measure your results and attain your goals within a certain amount of time.
Some measurable fitness goal examples include:
- Running 5K (3.1 miles) nonstop
- Doing 50 push-ups consecutively
- Losing 20 pounds
Adding a deadline for when to reach these goals makes them time-bound. You can also set both immediate and long-term timelines for your goals, creating an even clearer path toward progress.
4. Identify Your Barriers to Achievement
Even with a specific, realistic and achievable fitness goal, things don’t always go according to plan. Barriers can arise that prevent you from sticking to your exercise routine.
From unexpected events to illness to waning motivation, there are plenty of curveballs that can impact your fitness goals. People with busy or sporadic schedules or who travel frequently for work may also have a hard time adhering to a workout plan—especially when the necessary space or equipment isn’t always available.
By identifying key areas of your life that may prevent you from reaching your fitness goal, you can plan for how to overcome any obstacles you do encounter.
5. Stick to a Workout Schedule
To achieve any fitness goal, you need to apply consistent, daily effort that creates results over time. However, one of the biggest challenges people face when beginning a fitness journey is not knowing what to do once they get to the gym. A schedule is a great way to get clear on which exercises to do and when.
Carve out a block of time in your schedule each day and include details like:
- Which exercise or workout you plan to do each day
- How long your workouts will last
- When you’ll take an active recovery or rest day
Creating a detailed schedule prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and helps keep up your motivation.
6. Keep Track of Progress
It’s important to be invested in your progress. Create a system for keeping track of your results, whether it’s through a fitness device or jotting down notes in a journal. Tracking your fitness progress increases the personal accountability you feel toward your goals and can help you visualize your results.
Along with tracking your primary fitness goal, such as weight loss or run minutes, consider recording secondary results like:
- Number of days you exercise each week
- Average time of workout session
- Improvements in sleep, focus or mood
Being aware of how your commitment to fitness is affecting other areas of your life can help increase exercise enjoyment and sustain long-term motivation.
7. Capitalize on Small Wins
Have you ever heard the saying “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey?” This idea applies to fitness goals too. Breaking your primary fitness goal into small milestones can help you create a sense of achievement and enjoyment along the way. This approach also allows you to capitalize on the theory of small wins.
In the psychology of goal setting, research has shown that people tend to stick to their long-term goals if they accomplish several small wins. Also called micro-goals, small wins allow you to stack your achievements, helping you build momentum toward your ultimate goal.
Aim to accumulate small wins consistently from the time you begin your fitness journey until your goal’s final deadline. Record these small wins in your schedule or goal-tracking system.
8. Workout With a Partner
If you have a particularly lofty goal or you’ve struggled with goal attainment in the past, it’s wise to recruit a support system of people invested in your success. One common way to do this is through an exercise buddy—a friend or partner who is committed to the same goal you are. Exercise buddies improve accountability and motivation and can be a great resource for sharing strategies and encouraging deeper progress.
Fitness groups are another way to get the benefits of an accountability workout buddy but with an entire crowd of people focused on the same results. If you’d rather go solo, then you can still benefit from social encouragement by sharing your fitness plans with friends and family, increasing your accountability and achievement motivation.
9. Know Your Physical Limits
One risk of starting a new exercise routine is the potential for injury by overdoing it. Injuries can derail your progress and set you back in your fitness goals.
Allow your body to adjust naturally to physical activity by increasing your exercise intensity incrementally over time. To further protect your body from overexertion, follow some essential practices for injury prevention:
- Warm up and cool down after each workout
- Take rest days to help your body recover
- Stretch your muscles regularly
- Ice and heat treat particularly sore muscles
Following a workout plan that acknowledges your physical limits can prevent common exercise injuries like:
- Low back muscle strain
- Shin splints
- Shoulder injury
- Knee pain
By knowing your physical limits, you can mitigate injury and stay on track toward your fitness goal.
10. Invest in the Right Equipment
Having the right fitness tools can greatly improve your success. Investing in good exercise equipment can encourage you to stay active while preventing injury and making your workouts more effective.
Below are some of the top equipment and gear items to consider when setting your fitness goals:
- Free weights, exercise bands and medicine balls for resistance training
- Fitness tracker, heart rate monitor or pedometer to track progress
- Workout mat, foam rollers and stretchers for active recovery
- Massage guns and hot and cold therapy products to relieve sore muscles
Be sure to pack essentials with you whenever you exercise, including a large water bottle to encourage lots of healthy hydration, as well as a towel for good hygiene. You can find portable workout tools that make it easy to bring your gear with you to the gym or on the road.
Achieve Your 2022 Fitness Goals With Help From Relax The Back
Set and achieve powerful fitness goals this new year. With the right mindset, support and equipment, you can take your physical health to the next level. For the top selection of fitness and therapy products that can help you achieve your 2022 fitness goals, visit a Relax The Back store or shop with us online.
Discover our collection of therapeutic products that prevent injury, relieve muscle soreness and optimize physical performance. Find a location near you or contact us to book a virtual wellness appointment.