When it comes to fitness, setting goals is essential. More importantly, it matters what goals a person sets. It’s not enough for members to just decide they want to do something. Instead, they’ve got to work with trainers to establish S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals.

S.M.A.R.T. Goals

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals helps trainers work more efficiently with their clients and allows for a holistic approach to physical health and wellness.

In this blog, we’ll consider what makes a S.M.A.R.T.(SMART) goal, why they’re different from regular goals, and how to establish one. Let’s dive in.

Why Are S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Goals Important?

Within the fitness industry, SMART is an acronym that personal trainers use to guide clients through the process of change.. And for a good reason. 

Consider the differences between:

➡️ A client says, “I want to lose weight.”

Sure, that’s a goal, but it’s a foggy goal. How much weight is enough weight? What’s the timeframe? When will the member know they’ve reached the goal?

Let’s face it: that goal won’t help the person achieve their objective. In addition to being unclear, a goal like that is a little cop-out: it allows the person setting the goal to waffle and waver instead of working determinedly toward the desired outcome. 

➡️ Now, compare that goal with this SMART goal: “I want to lose twenty pounds of body fat within the next six months.”

That, friends, is a SMART goal. Instead of being ambiguous and open-ended, that goal is specific and measurable (20 pounds of body fat), attainable (with the help of a professional trainer, the client can easily lose that much weight), relevant to the setting, and time-bound (the time horizon is six months). 

With all of that in mind, we will now go into a more detailed breakdown of each letter in the SMART acronym.

S is for Specific

To be functional, goals need to be specific. The more specific a goal is, the more likely it becomes that the goal-setter will reach said goal. 

Specific goals are clear and concise, and they allow the goal-setter to know whether or not the goal has been achieved.

Whether the goal is to reach a specific weight or hit a fitness milestone, like running a marathon, specific goals are just more actionable.

M is for Measurable

Say it with us, “what gets measured gets managed.”

That’s as true with fitness goals as it is with anything else.

And because of that, SMART goals are measurable and quantifiable. Consider, again, the example above: “I want to lose weight” isn’t measurable. It isn’t quantifiable. It could mean losing half a pound or 100 pounds – there’s no way to tell. What if you’re just losing muscle mass, not body fat – does that count?

“I want to lose 20 pounds of body fat,” is measurable and quantifiable. 

Measurable goals serve important purposes for both clients and trainers. For trainers, measurable goals allow accurate tracking of client progress. For clients, measurable goals promote motivation and accountability. 

Here are a few questions to ask when setting measurable SMART goals:

  • How many?
  • How much?
  • How will you know when you accomplish the goal?

A is for Attainable

To be functional and motivating, goals need to be attainable. 

Think of it this way: if a 60-year-old client who has never run before establishes a goal of breaking Eliud Kipchoge’s Berlin Marathon world record, things probably will not work out very well. The goal is so unattainable that the client is going to tire of trying and burn out almost immediately. 

Because of this, SMART goals should be achievable and should consider external factors such as budget, body composition, and time. 

R is for Realistic

The “R” in SMART dovetails with the “A.” A SMART goal needs to be both attainable and realistic. In other words, the goal should align with your client’s wants, needs, and personal values. The goal should apply to the client’s current lifestyle and fitness level, and should support the person’s larger fitness goals.

T is for Time-Bound

Last, a SMART goal needs to occur within a specific timeframe. Time-bound goals keep clients motivated and provide a target for them to strive for. 

Clients who set goals with realistic time-frames are better able to organize their everyday efforts to support their goals. A realistic timeframe also generates a sense of urgency, which helps give the client the motivation necessary to reach the goal.

For trainers, having a time frame makes it possible to organize workouts and milestones, so the client actually hits the goal. For example, if the client wants to lose a certain percentage of body fat, the trainer knows the client needs to work out for a set number of hours a week at a certain intensity. 

Why Personal Trainers use S.M.A.R.T. Fitness Goals

Personal training clients need goals to work toward, and one of the major jobs of the personal trainer is to help them establish those goals. To be functional, however, goals need to keep clients motivated and inspired. 

Since every client has different needs and objectives, the SMART framework allows for the establishment of specific, attainable goals that help trainers get to know their clients and help them succeed. 

Additionally, S.M.A.R.T. fitness goals allow trainers to track progress accurately and efficiently. While ambiguous goals are difficult to track, SMART goals allow clients and trainers to work together to track fitness progress, make adjustments if needed, and achieve objectives. 

At Alloy, our personal trainers work from the SMART goal framework each day. We’ve found that creating behavior change can push clients out of their comfort zones. SMART fitness goals enhance existing fitness routines, promote motivation and accountability, allow progressive change, and drive greater fitness results – all of which help us serve our clients better every single day. 

Ready to find out how you can be in the business of helping clients to reach their SMART goals? Contact us today!

Article by: Suzanne Robb

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