Learning to Set SMART Fitness Goals

Learning to Set SMART Fitness Goals

In the United States, only 38.8% of adults ages 18 to 24 are receiving enough exercise. That number continues to decrease in an inverse relationship with a person’s age. This means that only a third of the adult population in America is meeting cardio and strengthening needs. As the body develops over time, without the use of consistent exercise, adults lose muscle strength and mobility. This affects every aspect of life, from everyday tasks to the largest feats of exercise.

Suffice to say, prioritizing fitness is important for a well-balanced, fuller life. So how do we accomplish this goal? One of the most widely followed, evidence-based practices in goal setting is SMART goals. SMART goals are specific to your lifestyle, and work to improve on what you are already accomplishing. Coined in the journal Management Review in 1981, SMART goals have expanded to be one of the most effective practices in accomplishing desired gains while tracking your progress.

Thinking SMART

Like any military operation, you need a plan to see success. Veterans know more than anyone the discipline, strategy, and perseverance it takes to implement a mission, no matter the size. The same can be said for fitness goals. By approaching fitness with an evidence-based strategy, you are more likely to follow through and hold yourself accountable to the plan.

A SMART fitness goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Read below for an explanation of how this can positively impact your fitness goals.

  • Specific: The more specific, the better. Narrowing your goal down so you can see the results of your labor is one way to increase the efficacy of your plan. For example, instead of presenting your goal as “I want to run more,” giving specific targets such as running ten miles a week boosts your chance of success. Write down what you want to achieve, then see how you tailor your goal to your life.

  • Measurable: Tracking your progress is another way to motivate and inspire yourself to continuously be the best version of yourself. Smartwatches, fitness apps, and other fitness trackers have blown up in popularity because of their effectiveness in goal setting. Investing in a smartwatch, using an app while on a run, or even creating a spreadsheet of your strengthening rotation are all ways to positively measure your fitness goals. Even something as simple as prioritizing 7 hours of sleep a night to aid in your energy levels can be a goal in conjunction with your fitness routine.

  • Achievable: So you want to climb Everest? Great! Let's start with where you are at and go from there. Goals are more effective when you can quickly see yourself fulfilling them in your day-to-day life. What actions can you take right now to get where you need to be? For example, if you find yourself lacking the energy to fulfill your afternoon workout, implementing a change such as adding VRB’s focus and calm blend can be a seamless addition to your fitness routine.

  • Relevant: You run the show in your fitness journey. That’s why not every fitness goal is going to impact you in the same way as one tailored to your lifestyle. When thinking of fitness goals, it's important to take a holistic approach to your fitness journey. For example, if you are someone who has sustained an injury, incorporating strengthening and mobility training will be more beneficial than trying to reach a certain vertical jump. Thinking about your overall health, such as incorporating new foods into your diet, can provide you with the added energy and stamina you need for your tasks.

  • Time-Bound: The final component of SMART goals is time. As with any mission, time is a critical factor in implementing a new strategy. SMART goals usually take anywhere from one to three months to complete. This allows for you to see your progress, while also providing urgency. You made these goals for a reason, now let's follow-through.

  • Be Smarter

    Goal setting often falls through, and here is why:


    • Lack of Ownership: Your fitness journey only affects you- and how you approach everyday. Veterans are used to putting in the hard work to see positive results, especially in conjunction with a team. With fitness goals, placing the product on yourself can be less motivating unless you think of the big picture. In a fitness journey, you are your best self in your journey to achieve greatness.
    • Lack of Precision: In the military, everything is precise. Effective and accurate strategies are in your nature. Making too broad of goals takes the precision out of the exercise, and this can lead to disillusionment.
    • Lack of Direction: You need your strategic plan to see results. Without a roadmap, you will be where you were before you began this journey. Setting actionable, intentional goals removes the lack of direction so you can follow your own personal journey.

    SMART goals is a mindful, intentional tool used to propel you to be your best. As you continue on your fitness journey, choosing SMART goals provides the intrinsic motivation and success factor that ultimately propels you forward. When thinking about how to implement them in your own life, looking at your current routine, achievable areas of growth, and factoring in your lifestyle can be the help you need to improve your overall fitness. Being strategic and tackling it with all of your strength ultimately provides the foundation you need for your fitness journey. For intentional, hand-crafted help with your journey, VRB’s Total Wellness Pack can be one step in your SMART fitness journey.