SMART Goals -What are They & Why You Need Them

smart goals

If you are someone who has ever worked out in a gym or at home I'm sure you have thought you of some common fitness goals. These include but are not limited too;

  • “I want to tone up.”
  • “I want to lose weight.”
  • “I want to get ripped.”
  • “I want to lose belly fat.”
  • “I need a beach body.”

And and on and on.

All of these are not necessarily bad goals to have for a fitness or exercise program. To be honest even I have thought these phrases too. Personal trainers can get caught in the same mental traps as clients. 🙂

If you want success with fitness you should always be thinking about SMART goals with your fitness program. What are SMART goals?

SMART Fitness Goals

SMART is an acronym and I'll explain what each S-M-A-R-T letter means;

  • Specific – The fitness goals you set for yourself must be clear and Specific so that you know whether you are making progress. The examples I used that most people say to themselves such as “I want to tone-up.” is not specific enough. A more specific goal would be “I want to tone-up my triceps and biceps.” This is better as you are saying exactly what part of your arms you want to tone-up.
  • Measurable – You need to measure your progress so that you know if you are improving, by how much, and if you need to make adjustments. That means if you are trying to run a mile in say under 10 minutes and you are 12 minutes currently, you will want to track any progress you make. For this Measurable goal you should use some sort of wearable fitness tracker so that you can see how much you are improving your running times. When you know you are improving, and by how much, it will encourage and motivate you.
  • Attainable – You want to set realistic goals for your program. If you set a goal and accomplish it you are much more likely to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle. Way to often people will set completely unattainable goals for what they are trying to accomplish.  I know, I see it all the time as a Personal Trainer. I always encourage clients to “think big” since there is nothing wrong with that. However take steps in your physical health and training in small bites. Be ambitious but realistic about where you are in your fitness journey.
  • Relevant – You must set goals that are relevant to your interests, needs, goals, and abilities. Too often I see trainers making clients do exercise activities that are not relevant to a client's priorities. If you are a track athlete doing explosive weight exercises such as Olympic lifts would be ideal. Doing tennis would not be.
  • Time-based – You goal must have a set time for completion. If you just set a goal and don't think about when it is going to happen, you may fall be the wayside of making that goal happen. Evaluate regularly to see if are going to meet the goal. If not you might want to revisit Attainable and see if you set a realistic goal for yourself.

How to set a SMART Goal

Saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds in a week” is not a realistic goal. However saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds of fat in 8 weeks.” is a much more ideal goal and follows SMART principles. This meets the Specific and Time-based part of SMART.

Consider is this at attainable goal? Do you have finals coming up? A big vacation? Can you make time for a home-based or precious time out of your day to go to the gym?

The SMART goal we set and these types of questions will show also make you think about what types of exercises you should be doing to drop that 20 pounds of fat you want to lose.

The next step would be to think about how you would accomplish your goal. Are going to be lifting weights? Cycling? Swimming? Consider how this is going to be measured.

Lifting weights would be an  easy way to measure progress. The more weight you lift over the 8 weeks, you are making progress. The more weight you drop and more your body composition changes the better.


If you intend on setting up a fitness routine and program for yourself, or if you work with me, I always recommend defining goals. SMART greatly helps with keeping you on track and helping you stay focused on fitness. Remember be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based in your fitness goals.

Setting a SMART fitness goal allows you to be crystal clear about what you are trying to accomplish with a fitness program, why you are doing it, and when it is going to get done.

Have you ever set a fitness goal like the ones I talked about at the beginning of this article? How did that work for you? Have you tried setting a SMART fitness goal? Did that work better?

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