How to Set Achievable Fitness Goals in 5 Simple Steps

Chances are, you already know that getting healthy and losing weight are popular New Year’s resolutions. You might also know that many people have given up on these resolutions.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so tough to stick to fitness goals when so many of us are inspired to get fit, one of the problems may lie in how we set our fitness goals.

Perhaps our goals are too broad, leaving us without a clear direction. Or maybe they’re just unrealistic, draining our motivation to keep going. Whatever the case, poor fitness goals can lead us to failure.

That’s where the SMART method comes in. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This method provides a clear framework for setting solid goals. Let’s dive into each of the five SMART steps to see how they can help you achieve your fitness goals.

Table of Contents

  1. Make Your Goal Specific
  2. Make Your Goal Measurable
  3. Set an Attainable Goal
  4. Set a Relevant Goal
  5. Make Your Goal Time-Bound
  6. Closing Remarks

Make Your Goal Specific

Setting a specific fitness goal is the key to staying committed. Fitness goals like “losing weight” or “getting healthy” are too broad. They leave ample room for interpretation.

How much weight do you want to lose? What does “healthy” mean to you? The term “healthy” holds different meanings for different individuals.

Some may view it as “getting stronger,” others as “improving body composition,” and some as “increasing endurance.” The goal of “getting healthy” doesn’t specify how you want to be healthy. The lack of clarity can lead to confusion, making it challenging to stay focused.

On the other hand, specific goals provide clarity. For instance, “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I aim for a body fat percentage of 16%.” You can see how they are different from the general goals. They state exactly what you want to achieve.

The purpose of adding specificity is to bring clarity to your goals. By narrowing down your general goal and detailing what you want to achieve, you set a clear direction for yourself.

Make Your Goal Measurable

It’s crucial to see how you’re progressing toward your goal if you want to stay motivated. To see that, you need to make your goals measurable.

Let’s take the fitness goal: “I want to lose 20 pounds.” This goal is measurable because you can easily track your weight loss using a weighing scale.

However, if your goal is more general, like “I want to lose weight,” you can still measure the weight you lose, but it’s difficult to determine if you’ve achieved what you really wanted.

Similarly, if your goal is “I want my body fat percentage to be 16%,” you can measure it using a body fat measuring device, like a skinfold caliper.

Set an Attainable Goal

Besides being specific and measurable, a fitness goal should also be attainable. Sometimes, our fitness goals can be unrealistic.

If you set goals that are impossible to achieve, you’re deliberately setting yourself up for failure. Unattainable goals are intimidating and can hold you back from putting in the effort to achieve them.

Big goals are generally more challenging to achieve than small goals. However, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set big fitness goals. It simply means that big goals may require more time to achieve, while smaller goals may be reached in a shorter period.

Sometimes, when you set a goal, it’s not the goal itself that is unattainable, but rather the unrealistic time frame set to achieve it. For instance, “losing 20 pounds” is a realistic goal to achieve in 3-4 months, but it’s not feasible within just 1 week.

Setting unattainable fitness goals can lead to disappointment. Instead of being eager to pursue your goals, you’re more likely to become demotivated. To set an achievable fitness goal, factor in the time needed to achieve it, as well as your current physical condition and resources.

Set a Relevant Goal

Your fitness goals should be relevant to you. This means they should contribute to your overall health and lifestyle vision. When your fitness goal aligns with your broader goals, you’re more likely to stay committed and motivated.

Avoid setting fitness goals that worsen your health issues or create obstacles. A fitness goal that becomes an inconvenience or doesn’t align with your bigger goals is easier to give up on.

The point of pursuing fitness is to improve your quality of life. Anything that has the opposite effect is irrelevant and not worth pursuing.

Make Your Goal Time-Bound

Deadlines can be great motivators. A deadline gives you a clear focus since you’ll have a limited time to achieve that goal. When you set a time-bound fitness goal, make sure the deadline is achievable.

For example, instead of only saying “I want to lose 20 pounds,” you can make it time-bound by saying “I want to lose 20 pounds in 4 months.” Similarly, the goal “I want to achieve a body fat percentage of 16% in 6 months” is a time-bound fitness goal.

Setting a time-bound fitness goal helps you plan your actions. You can map out the journey you’ll take within the given timeline and break the goal into smaller milestones. Achieving these milestones can keep you motivated as you progress toward your bigger goal.

Closing Remarks

When you set your fitness goals SMART-ly, they become achievable, focused, and motivating. This method works for both long- and short-term fitness goals.

There are at least two ways to set your SMART fitness goals. You can begin with a long-term goal and break it down into smaller short-term goals.

Alternatively, you can start with a short-term goal and set progressively more challenging goals as you achieve your previous ones. Either way, apply the SMART method to clearly define your fitness goals.

About the Author

Sasha Lizaveta
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Sasha Lizaveta is a fitness enthusiast and content manager at She advocates a conservative yet effective approach to fitness. She believes in the power of gradual changes to achieve long-lasting results. When not working out or creating content, she can often be found engrossed in books, playing with her cats, or travelling.

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