What is a SMART goal?  Is it just a fitness goal that you think of that sounds smart? Well it’s a bit more complicated than that.  A SMART goal is actually an acronym for Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.  In the world of fitness, making a SMART goal is the very first step to getting the real results that you are looking for.

Starting with specific, most people walk in to the gym for the first time and tell themselves and others that they “just want to lose a little weight” or “I want to get buff”. The problem with something that broad is that you don’t actually have anything specific enough to keep you motivated or ever feel a real sense of achievement.  If your goal is to lose weight, you need to decide exactly what amount of weight you really want to lose.  Then, if you are trying to get stronger (or “buff”), you have to pick certain muscle groups and exercises and then pick a specific goal weight that you want to be able to lift.

Then there is measurable.  When you are thinking of a fitness goal it has to be something that you can measure.  If you say your goal is to get in shape or to get ready for beach season there isn’t anything that you can actually measure.  An example of a measurable goal is losing weight. You can step on the scale every morning to track how much you are losing throughout your goal period of time.  Or, if you are trying to get stronger, you can make a goal to be able to lift a specific amount of weight and then track what weight you can currently lift and how much you have improved the amount of weight you lifted when you first started doing that exercise.

The next part, achievable, is like a combination of the first two parts.  In order for your goal to be achievable, it has to be specific enough to know what your are reaching for and it has to be measurable so that you know when you achieved it.  If you don’t think you have a clue what you are capable of achieving you can make a long line of short term goals that you keep updating as you go. For example, instead of saying that you want to lose 20 pounds in the next two months, think of something shorter like losing 3 pounds at the end of the week.  What that does is give you more opportunities to feel successful which will then help you learn what you are capable of better and then you can start making longer term goals.

Part 4, realistic, is potentially the most important part of the SMART goal.  This is where you say to yourself: “Can I actually achieve this goal without having to give up other parts of my daily life or risking injuring myself?”.  If you make a fitness goal without the knowledge and planning of how to achieve it, you are not likely to achieve it and therefore aren’t thinking with a very realistic mindset which also hurts your motivation and determination to stay consistent with your workouts.  

Finally, last but not least, there is time-bound.  What is the point of making a goal of losing 20 pounds without giving a time-frame for losing that weight in? Without that time-frame, you are much more likely to fail.  If you instead say you want to lose 20 pounds in 2 and a half or 3 months, you will be more likely to stay consistent and motivated because you have an ending date.  

In conclusion, making a goal that is specific, easy to measure, achievable, realistic, and limited in time (or SMART), you will no doubt reach your fitness goals if not go above and beyond those goals.