Setting Successful Fitness Goals

During all of our personal training consultations, we set aside a specific session for setting successful fitness goals/objectives. We first request that our client tells us their “story” as everyone has one so that we may create a picture of their health and fitness journey to this point and then, to identify two to three major, specific goals which will lead to the outcomes they desire.

Goals must be S.M.A.R.T. which is an acronym for specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely. Consequently, to provide an example, we will choose an imaginary client and tell their “story”, then set their goals/objectives.

Susie Sweatsocks is a 35 year old mother of two, who was a former high school/college track and field athlete, specifically participating in sprint-events (i.e. 100-200 meter sprints). She experienced two serious injuries, one to her knee resulting in an ACL tear and one to her opposite leg Achilles tendon. Both have been replaced or repaired, she recovered well from physical therapy following the surgeries, was compliant throughout and is now returning to light jogging after the birth of her second child. After her Achilles tendon injury, she took a sabbatical from sprint training and participation while raising her two children. She has been physically active, but has not been performing a specific exercise program for several years. Therefore, she has lost a great deal of her previous fitness level; however, she still possesses the athletic DNA she was born with and trained with throughout her high school/college sprinting career. Her stated goals are to lose 10-20 pounds that was gained during her last pregnancy and to safely return to sprinting events through performance of a well-designed specific macro exercise program within the next six months. Both of her stated goals are attainable, if she follows the training protocols consistently.

The first goal of losing excessive body weight, we discussed, will need to include a specifically structured nutrition program addressing the loss of body weight and then maintenance of the desired weight combined with an exercise program which capitalizes on efficient caloric expenditure. She will be keeping track of her caloric expenditure by wearing a heart rate monitor while training and her intensity by following the intensity guidelines set following her functional threshold test and keeping track of her daily caloric input in a food diary. This will be achieved through interval training including, when appropriate high intensity interval training (HIIT), specific muscular strength training to create more muscle mass leading to an increased metabolic rate (i.e. the more muscle mass, the more calories you tend to expend, even at rest than an individual with less muscle mass as muscle is more metabolically active than fat) and a program that emphasizes compound and multi-muscled exercises designed to cross all three movement planes of the body. Measuring her body composition, girth measurements, waist to hip ratio and body weight prior to beginning her training program will establish a baseline of data. She will be re-measured every four-eight weeks to determine if the training modality, frequency, intensity and time are all achieving the desired weight loss of 10-20 pounds within six months.

The second goal of returning safely to her sprinting events will be gradually addressed throughout the macro program, concentrating on explosive power training, spending a considerable amount of time on the track training for the specific sprint events. The training regimen to achieve success will also include core stability and flexibility training as well as an established myofascial release program to ensure the mobility that is required to perform safe sprints. This goal will be measured by assessing vertical jump, current sprint speed, reaction time, and agility initially and then, reassessing every two-four weeks to determine if the explosive power training is creating the outcomes desired.

Following the goals and objectives consultation, Susie will come in for her Functional Movement Screen to be performed which will identify any limitations, compensations, instability, balance and asymmetries. This information, combined with the information obtained during the goals/objectives consultation, will be utilized to formulate and design her micro, meso and macro exercise program.

Susie will then schedule her personal training program package so that we may begin her training program as soon as possible. During her initial training session, we will identify any issues that may arise, modify the foundational program at that time, and then the real work begins as do the results!

Therefore, when setting your fitness goals, remember to set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely goals so that your program is safe, efficient, effective and enjoyable!

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