Goal Setting Part 1 – SMART Planning

Its almost that time of year when gyms and training centres around the world are going to be full to the brim with New Years Resolutionees.  Both people new to the world of fitness and those who’s motivation has ‘lapsed’ with the winter festivities….

If you fall into one of those categories  – or even if you’re aready taking care of your health and fitness it can never hurt to sit back, take stock and figure out just what you want to achieve out of 2014.

I think the word is 'cosy'

I think the word is ‘cosy’

It has been said that a dream is a dream until you write it down – then it becomes a goal.   By far the most effective way to get the most out of your training – or indeed any aspect of your life is to take the time to set clear goals for yourself and really think about what you want to achieve both long and short term.

The process of goal setting has been done to death by the corporate world – and over caffeinated, khaki chino wearing, acronym wielding, table thumping motivational speakers may seem to have no place in the world of sport, health and fitness – but  – there is a part of corporate speak that we can borrow…

Say no more.  Really.

Say no more. Really.


In his book ‘Attitude is Everything’ Paul Meyer described the application of SMART goals for every corporation, department, and individual.  Yes it is an acronym – but please bear with me.  Smart stands for:





Time bound

Specific.  By far the most common thing I hear in the gym is ‘I want to get in shape’.   This is a goal that is set up to fail – how do you know when you’re ‘in shape’  what does ‘in shape’ mean to you?

I work with clients ranging from Olympic athletes to rehab cases and everything in between.   In shape for one group is going to be spectacularly different to the next.  I am working with an international bobsledder who needs an additional 3cm on his standing vertical jump., whilst a second client wants to improve her shoulder range of motion enough to be able to brush her own hair.

Think about what it is you specifically want to achieve and we’re in a much better place to start.

Measurable.  Intrinsically linked to the first point – a goal must be measurable.  If you want to ‘get in shape’ or ‘put on some muscle’ how do you know when you have done it?   In my experience people do well with numbers – you want to lose weight – how much?  You want to increase your bench press stick a number on it.  By quantifying our goals we make ourselves accountable.  You either achieved it or you didn’t.

Which brings me on nicely to…..

Attainable.  I would like to do a Jonny W and hit a last minute 3 pointer to clinch a world cup final.  I would also like to win worlds strongest man, a not been filmed yet series of Gladiators and become a Jedi master.I think you know where Im going with this one…  Make it challenging, but we have to be at least vaguely sensible about it.

Everyone loves a trier

Everyone loves a trier

Relevant.  I work in a gym, albeit a very well equipped one.  I can help you with human performance, injury prevention and management, body composition (as long as you do your bit in the kitchen!).   I can’t help you get that promotion at work or make you get around to painting your skirting boards.

Time bound.  Procrastination is the thief of time.  As well as attaching a number to what you want to achieve, you must attach a number to when you want to achieve it.

This works both ways – saying you want to add 20kilos to your bench press in 4 weeks would be ridiculous.  Targeting it over 12 months would be aggressive – but (depending on your training age)  – it could be done.


Hopefully you can see that  as well as being applicable in the boardroom – this also has a place in the weight room.

Sensible or SMART goal setting can be the difference between being one of the masses who will get into health and fitness this January yet lose their way by March.  And being one of those who makes long lasting, meaningful and positive changes to their health, lifestyle, and longevity.

Next post – Goal Setting Part 2:  Supercharge your goals.

2017-05-02T21:38:33+00:00December 22nd, 2013|0 Comments

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