Goal Setting in Fitness & Nutrition

A goal is the result or achievement toward which effort is
directed. Without setting goals in exercise or nutrition, there
is far less value and purposeful direction; and they need to
be measurable and realistic. For example, a thin teenager
weighing 120 pounds wiping to weight 220-pounds of
muscle is both specific and measurable. However, he
can not hope to achieve such a physique, especially not
soon and probably not without growth-enhancing drugs.
Therefore, in this instance, the goal to gain 100 pounds of
muscle is specific, it is measurable, but it is unrealistic.

Non-measurable goals, such as "I want to lose fat and get
lean, "will never be realized since the term" lean "is
subjective with no objective measurement. What is lean to
one person may not be lean to another … or sometimes it is
"too lean". Once the individual obtains a supposedly state of
leanness, will that person know that he has achieved that
goal or will his perception of what he thinks is "lean" change
because of higher standards and greater expectations? On
the other hand, if a trainee indicated that he wants to reduce
body fat to a level of ten percent, then he has a measurable
goal – one that can be quantified.

Next, to achieve goals better, trainees must provide a
measurement and do so in the smallest amount necessary
and within reason relative to past accomplishments. Do not
aim for something greater than you could ever have
achieved in the past. Moreover, the more distant the goal,
and the smaller the increments, the more likely the success
of obtaining the goal. But it should be noted that a goal must
require some degree of effort and challenge. If the goal is
too small or easy to obtain, there is little incentive or sense
of accomplishment or pride.

Goals can be measured in terms of income and
performance. An arrival goal refers to that which a
person is aiming to achieve, such as lifting five pounds
more in the bench press next workout or a far greater weight
over the course of several months. There is little flexibility in
this type of goal – either it is achieved or it is not.
Performance goals refer to the process through which a
person achieves those goals, including both the short- and
long-term. Performance goals are much more flexible, and
allows a person to reorganiz a strategy from day to day in
order to meet the outcome goal (s). Performance goals are
associated with less anxiety, since there is flexibility and, as
a result, should be emphasized in an exercise and nutrition
program. It can be upsetting not to achieve an exit
goal, but if all the steps leading up to the income were
done to the best of your ability, it is easy to maintain
motivation in preparing for the next exit goal.

When determining a long-term goal, a strategy of
immediate, short-term goals (performance goals) must be
considered. For example, if you desire a ten-pound
increase on the best bench press, how will you get there?
This is accomplished by creating a workout schedule, a
long-term plan of increasing "x" pounds / ounces to the bar
each workout until you achieve the extra ten pounds. The
plan may need to be reevaluated then re-designed –
especially if you fail to increase the weight by "x"
pounds / ounces during one of the workouts, and falling short
in the end. It could be further stated that creating a goal
strategy in exercise is very similar to a marketing or
business plan in that goals may be established, but they
may also need reformulating on a regular basis to reflect
current facts of finance, the economy, sales, customer
satisfaction, etc.


Set Specific Goals. The goal must be measurable, such as
"bench press 275 pounds" by a certain date rather than
"increase the bench press" and without a concrete date in

Set Difficult and Realistic Goals. The goal must be within
reach, yet challenging in order to increase mental arousal
and motivation. Easy goals will not be stimulating, yet goals
that are nearly impossible will hinder motivation for future
workouts. Goals must reflect your genetic ability accurately;
as strength and size increases, the ability to match past
goals will diminish.

Establish Short-term Goals. Each main goal must consist
of sub-goals or short-term goals. Before a person can
increase chest measurement by an inch, or bench-press an
additional 50 pounds, he must progress in smaller
amounts. Being able to see patterns in those amounts
(your results over a particular period of time), or lack thereof,
provides valuable data and feedback in your ability to
achieve long-term goals during a specific time frame. Not
being able to achieve short-term goals provides further
information as to what is not working and the need for a new
plan of short-term goals in order to achieve the long-term

Develop Goal-Achievement Strategies. A trainee can not
achieve short- or long-term goals without knowing how he
or she ever will get there. In order to lose an inch off
the waist, you must first lose a quarter-inch, then a half-inch,
etc., and each step requires a certain amount of exercise
and a proper eating plan. These aspects determine your
daily or immediate goals.

Create Backup Plans of Action. What happens if a
short-term goal is not reached? If something goes wrong,
is it probable that the long-term goal will be reached? It will
be difficult to get back on track if a backup plan of action is
not established to correct any minor setbacks. If the goal is
to lose a quarter-inch off the waist during the first month,
and the trainee only lost one-eighth inch, the chances of
losing a quarter-inch during the next phase of the strategy is
highly illegally (unless exercise is increased and eating is
decreed). It will be necessary to rethink the strategy and
decide what must be done in order to get back on track. But
rather than waiting for the possibility of failure, strategize
ahead of time and anticipate failure or what could go wrong.

Individual Personality Considerations. Prior to establishing
goals, personality must be considered. Is the person a
high-achiever or a low-achiever? Does the person have the
commitment and can he or she maintain that commitment?
The person can sustain the motivation to reach a difficult
goal that may be a year away while paying attention to diet
and intense exercise during that time on a daily / weekly
basis? Does the person have the concern and intellect to
work through any problems leading to each goal? How
does the individual accept failure – as a learning experience
or another "nail in the coffin" of defeat?

Provide for Goal Evaluation. At the end of each short- and
long-term goal, evaluate performance, dedication,
motivation, and well you did to achieve (or surpass) your
goals. From this information it will be easier to establish
future goals, and to make goals easier or more challenging,
by learning from mistakes, failures, and successes. Also,
evaluate the backup plans of action and if any of those steps
needed to be implemented, your problem-solving skills,
what went right, what went wrong, and any factors that were
not considered.

Provide Goal Support. Share goals with others, such as a
loved one, friends, a mentor, or associates on the Internet.
Telling people about what you intend to achieve increases
support and keeps you on the path to prove your ability
rather than experiencing humiliation or embarrassment
from backing down when the going gets tough. Regular
updates on a long-term goal, and how each short-term goal
is proceeding will keep you in check and sustain motivation.

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