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Nov 10 / Jeremy & Kim

Establishing Exercise Goals

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Exercise is an essential component of establishing and maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle.  Determining what type of exercise, how often, and what equipment you may need will depend on what you want to accomplish with your exercise routine.  Before you make any expensive purchases or join a gym, your first step should be to establish your exercise goals.

Be Specific

Establishing your exercise goals is extremely important as it will allow you to establish bench marks and track your progress.  As you make gains towards your intended goals you will be encouraged and excited about what you’ve been able to accomplish.  This will make your exercise routine more fun and exciting.  Many people make the mistake of simply stating they will exercise for 30 minutes, three times per day.  That is fine, but what do you want to accomplish by doing this?  Are there specific bench marks you can set for yourself?  The more specific you can be about your exercise goals the more likely you are to achieve them.  The more goals you achieve, the more motivated you will be to continue exercising. 

Your exercise goals should be challenging but realistic, time-bound but flexible.

The most important thing to keep in mind when establishing exercise goals and setting off on a new routine is that you do not want to set yourself up for failure.  If exercise has not been a part of your previous weekly routine, then start with short term goals that are challenging but obtainable.  You do not want to get frustrated with your progresses early on. In fact, your first exercise goal should be to learn about your current level of fitness.  Often times the first few weeks of exercise are where you will learn about what you can and cannot do.  You will discover how fast you can run or how long you can run.  You will learn how much weight you can push and how much weight you can pull.  Once you have a clear grasp on your current condition, you can establish goals based on what type of progress you would like to make.

If exercise has been a part of your weekly routine for some time then you may want to consider goals that will continue to challenge you to achieve a greater level of fitness.  Maybe a 10K race is coming up in your neighborhood.  Maybe you’ve never really tried to dead lift or squat.  Maybe you want to try circuit training for the next month, or see how you stack up against Craig Ballantyne’s Body Weight 1000.

[We have not tried the BW 1000 challenge yet, but when we do, we’ll let you know how it goes]

Goals will change over time

Over time, your goals will change. This is a good thing.  It means you are making progress.  Changing up your goals from time to time is a great way to keep things fresh and find new ways to challenge yourself.  I tend to get restless with doing the same workout routine for more than 6 weeks, so my goals change quite often.   When I turned 30, my first goal was to lose 10 pounds by taking control of my diet and exercising for fat loss.  Since I was able to achieve this goal rather quickly, I adjusted the target fat loss to15 pounds.  After achieving my fat loss goal, I decided to do some muscle building to increase the size of my upper body.  In the middle of my upper body building program, I wanted to train for the Great Ethiopian Race, a 10 km race held every year in Addis Ababa.  See, my goals are constantly changing, but they only change when I’ve accomplished them.

Tell us about your current health and fitness goals below.

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  1. Raymond - ZenMyFitness / Nov 10 2010

    Nice post since I think you should start with goals and make plans around them. I see people at the gym do it the opposite way, they turn up and hope for the best!
    Its great you reach your goals I tend to get bored before I reach them and change them on the run.. Ill have to learn to focus and complete them so I show progression.

  2. Jeremy & Kim / Nov 11 2010

    Hi Raymond,

    The key to achieving your goals is to ensure that they are timebound but flexible. If you are getting bored with your goals then it is probably a good idea to change them up. It is important that they keep you motivated and excited for the next workout. Try to establish goals with a shorter timeframe to help you track your progress.
    The Great Ethiopian Race is in two weeks. My goal for that race is simply to enjoy the experience. It is too chaotic with 35,000 people jammed into the same road to try to get a personal best time. This means that I am training to get in shape so that I can run a 10k without collapsing at the end. I’ll write a post about the experience after it is finished. If you are ever in Ethiopia in November it is an event you do not want to miss!

  3. Great outline on establishing exercise goals. It really hits home with me that it’s good to continually change goals as you progress. To me, it’s great to achieve goals but there’s not reason why you can’t shoot for a higher level of achievement…within reason.

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