4 in 5 people gave up on their goals in only 5 weeks!
4 in 5 people give up on their new years resolutions! Are you one of them?
And studies have also shown that 55% of resolutions are health-related.
Yeah, those odds aren't looking great...
So the question is, why do most people fail their goals? And how can you stay motivated?
Today, I'm going to share my top strategies for achieving your fitness goals (with a few simple tips).
Here's what you'll learn:
Let's dive in.
The secret to creating SMART goals
If you want to stick to your new fitness regime, then you need super-actionable goals.
The reason for this is simple:
And if you have no way to measure progress, you'll get demotivated real fast.
Many beginners fall into the trap of comparing themselves to others, but this is a bad idea.
Luckily, creating effective goals is easy with the SMART acronym:
Let's break each one down:
Specific: Having a broad goal, such as "I want to build muscle", isn't specific enough. To make it even more effective, you need to be crystal clear about what you want to achieve e.g. "I want to build 10 pounds of muscle".
Measurable: In your fitness journey, it's important that you have tangible ways to measure your progress. The problem with using abstract things like the mirror, or how your clothes fit, is that they don't tell you anything. Using the goal above, the best way to measure muscle gain, is to tie it to performance goals e.g. "Increase your bench press from 225lbs to 315lbs".
Achievable: Are your goals realistic? This is something you need to be honest in answering. For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds in just 2 months, you'd have to shed 6 pounds per week! Unless you're extremely overweight, this rate of fat loss is highly unsustainable and could do more bad than good.
Relevant: Do your goals have any emotional weight? An easy way to tell, is to picture the end result and note how it makes you feel in the moment. Does it excite you? or do you feel empty?
Time-based: Every goal needs to have a tight deadline. This creates a sense of urgency and forces you to push harder than you would have otherwise.
31 great fitness goals (anybody can achieve)
If you're still stuck for ideas, here are 31 great goals to get you started.
They include general fitness goals, strength training goals, and fat loss goals.
General fitness goals
If you're new to fitness, here are 5 beginner goals to start your journey.
They're centred around building discipline and pushing you out of your comfort zone (2 skills you must have to be successful).
#1 create 3 good habits (and get rid of 3 bad ones)
Most people who create ambitious goals...don't succeed.
And it's not because they didn't have enough willpower, or were lazy (although that may be the case for some).
Studies have found that willpower is a finite resource and is comparable to a battery.
You start off the day with a full tank of gas and every decision you make drains your reserve of self-discipline.
Willpower is a finite resource! Don't drain your reserve of self-discipline with over-abundant decision making.
This includes mundane, low effort decisions, like picking what clothes to wear!
So the key is to create a structured routine and limit frivolous decision making.
You also need to create behaviour chains.
This involves chaining certain actions together, making them more likely to stick as a habit.
Here's an example:
Let's say you want to start exercising everyday for 20 minutes.
The best way to ingrain it as a habit, would be to pick a certain time of the day e.g. 7am sharp, and have a pre-workout routine e.g. sip coffee while watching motivational videos.
The next thing you're probably wondering is "how long does it take to ingrain a new habit?"
Well, the typical answer is 21 days.
But this is based off anecdotal evidence and research conducted on plastic surgery patients.
In reality, studies have shown that it can take up to 10 weeks for new actions to become "automatic".
So the key is consistency.
A pro tip is to keep a calendar beside your bed and place a big red X on everyday you've successfully completed.
#2 count calories for 30 days consecutively
If you want to build muscle or lose fat, then you need to understand energy balance.
A simple way to explain it is calories in vs calories out.
- To gain weight you need to eat more calories than your body burns (a surplus)
- To lose fat you need to eat less calories than your body burns (a deficit).
A common approach to calorie counting is to use the eyeball method.
This involves guesstimating calorie contents in each meal and using food labels.
But there's a big problem with this method:
Studies have shown that a majority of people under-report their calories.
So if you try to guess calorie intake, you could be off by a large margin.
This is why I recommend learning how to count calories the right way.
To get started, I recommend downloading a digital calorie counting app, such as MyFitnessPal.
*In this guide, I show you step-by-step how to track calories/macros using the app (so be sure to read it).
#3 improve your flexibility
In Western civilisation, a large percentage of people work office jobs and are generally sedentary.
This causes postural imbalances and limits range of motion.
If you're considering yoga or strength training, this will be a huge hindrance, therefore it's worth investing time into building your flexibility.
I recommend starting small and committing to daily stretching.
Some good targets are:
- Being able to touch your toes without rounding the lower back
- Being able to grab one arm with the other (behind the back)
- Being able to squat ass to the ground without any assistance
#4 stick to one program for 12 weeks
Patience is an invaluable skill to learn in fitness.
But unfortunately, this virtue is absent in a lot of beginners.
They clamber to find the latest "cutting edge" program and are never content.
I like to call this fitness ADD.
Do you have fitness ADD? Try to stick to one program for at least 12 weeks before "hopping" on the latest trend!
It's the inability to stick to one program for more than a couple of weeks.
Believe it or not, this will hold you back.
Results take a long time in the fitness game and you need to be consistent.
#5 run a 5k marathon
If you want to get fit and healthy, but don't know where to start, then set your sights on a big goal like running a marathon.
It will make training more purposeful and give you a fun, rewarding challenge to work towards.
Beginner strength goals
Going to the gym for the first time can be intimidating.
After all, you're weak and you don't have a clue what to do.
The good news, is that strength gains are super-fast as a novice.
And you can pretty much achieve any goal in lightning speed (provided they're realistic).
Here are 8 goals that every aspiring lifter should aim for.
#6 do your first pullup
The pullup is one of the best ways to build upper body strength.
It requires a strong upper back, lats, and core to "pull off" (see what I did there?).
If you can't do a single pullup (most people can't) then here are the steps you need to take:
- Start with negatives (3x5)
- Get strong at assisted pullups (either with bands or a machine)
#8 bench press 135lbs
The bench press needs no introduction...
It's one of the most popular exercises in existence (and for good reason).
If you're looking to build a bigger chest, then you can't go wrong with heavy benching.
The best way to increase your bench is to eat in a surplus and gain some weight (seriously).
The extra fat stores will give you better leverages and reduce the range of motion for the lift.
You also need to be progressively adding weight to the bar session to session (or once per week if that's too tough).
When you can bench 135lbs for reps, you'll start to see chest definition.
#9 squat 225lbs
Heavy squats are amazing for building bigger and stronger legs.
But they're a complex movement pattern and can be dangerous if you lack mobility.
That's why I recommend working on ankle, hip, and thoracic flexibility first before you even look at a squat rack.
Once you're comfortable squatting with your own bodyweight, you can then start practising with the bar.
When you can squat 225lb for reps, your legs will be noticeably larger (and stronger).
#10 barbell row 1x your bodyweight
Most strength training programs are horribly imbalanced.
They focus far too much on pressing and this causes a hunched posture and a weak back.
To even this out and restore healthy shoulder function, I recommend including barbell rows in your routine.
A great goal to shoot for is 1x your bodyweight.
#11 deadlift 315lbs
The ultimate goal for a novice lifter is to deadlift 315lbs for the first time.
Once you reach a 315lb deadlift, your squat should raise automatically.
You should also see great carryover to many other exercises too (including the barbell row).
#12 close the 1st captains of crush gripper
If you have a weak grip, it can become a major limiting factor in the deadlift, rows, and pullups.
This is why I recommend training your grip early in your weightlifting career.
In order to build max grip strength, you should include crush training.
And the best way to do this is with the captains of crush grippers.
Your 1st goal is to try and close the 1st gripper (the easiest).
#13 hang onto a pullup bar for 1 Minute Straight
Support training builds hand grip endurance, which prevents the bar slipping out your hand.
A dead simple way to build your grip endurance, is to hang on to a pullup bar for as long as you can (before your grip gives out).
Do this for multiple sets and try to beat your best time.
Once you can hang from the bar for a minute straight, your grip is above average and you won't need to rely on straps.
advanced strength goals
Once you've accomplished the beginner strength goals, it's time to move onto bigger and better things.
Here are 10 advanced strength goals to test your mettle!
#14 do a 100lb weighted chin up
A 100lb weighted chin up is a huge landmark.
At this point, you'll have wide lats and big biceps.
You should also be able to do a one-arm chin up (which looks awesome).
#15 do your first muscle up
Being able to do a muscle up is mostly just for bragging rights.
It looks cool and very few people can do it without cheating.
#16 perform a one-arm pushup
A one-arm pushup is a great feat of strength!
Once you can do pushups with one-arm, you can start working on finger pushups.
#17 do 100 pushups in a row
This is a great goal to aim for if you're into bodyweight training.
High rep pushups will also have great carryover to benching.
To get the most out of pushups, try including harder variations such as decline pushups, one-arm assisted pushups, and close grip pushups.
Also commit to doing them daily.
#18 bench press 315lbs
Once you can hit 315lbs for reps (paused), you'll have a big chest and triceps.
I recommend adding different variations in your training to master the bench.
Here are my favourites:
- Pause bench (strength off the chest)
- Floor press (for lockout strength)
- Bench press w/ bands (dynamic effort for speed)
#19 overhead press 225lbs
The overhead press is a true test of upper body strength because you can't cheat.
Once you hit a 225lbs overhead press, you'll have impressive shoulders and should also be able to bench in the high 300's (even if you don't train the lift).
As with the bench press, you'll want to include different variations.
Here are the best:
- Push press
- OHP w/ bands
#20 deadlift 600lbs
A 600lb deadlift is the ultimate show of strength for a natural lifter.
If you can lift 600lbs, your legs, upper back, and traps will be huge.
Here are some quick tips to help you increase your deadlift:
- Increase your speed off the floor- The faster you can accelerate the bar, the less energy you'll have to expend at the lockout. A great way to build explosive strength is with bands. They overload the top of the exercise and force you to push harder (by teaching you to explode).
- Include accessory exercises to build your posterior chain, such as Romanian deadlifts and reverse hyper-extensions- Strong hamstrings and glutes will help you break the weight off the floor with leg drive.
#21 do a 90lb plate pinch for 30 seconds
The plate pinch is an awesome exercise for building finger strength.
It has great carryover for exercises like the deadlift (where grip can be a limiting factor).
Once you can hold onto two 45lb plates for 30+ seconds, you have elite grip strength.
#22 hang onto a pullup bar for 30 seconds (one-arm)
When you can hang onto a pullup bar for a minute straight, you should try doing it with one-arm.
This is a great test of grip endurance and is a tough challenge to beat.
#23 do your first "unassisted" pistol squat
A pistol squat is an advanced exercise that requires strong legs.
If you can do a full range pistol squat unassisted, then you can likely squat a lot too.
To work up to a pistol squat, you can try using easier progressions:
- Pistol squats off a high box/bench
- Assisted pistol squats
- Elevated pistol squats
- Counter-weighted pistol squat
fat loss goals
If you want to lose fat, whether it's to get abs, or to look good in a swimming costume, then you need to cultivate discipline.
This selection of 8 goals will Challenge you to build new habits and stick to them.
#24 stick to your diet for 4 weeks (without cheating)
The first 1-4 weeks of a new diet are always the roughest.
But once you overcome this obstacle, things get much easier.
Commit to your diet for just 4 weeks and you're already half way there!
#25 weigh yourself everyday
Weighing yourself everyday is a great habit to get into.
It keeps you accountable and lets you measure your fat loss progress daily.
At the end of the week, you can also calculate the average weight to minimise day-to-day fluctuations (from sodium, carbs, water etc).
#26 do 30 minutes of cardio everyday for 60 days
30 Minutes of daily exercise is a great way to keep fit and prevent diseases.
It also speeds up fat loss (meaning you get to eat more calories).
My advice is to set aside a specific time each day and stick to it no matter what.
For most people, adherence is highest in the morning, but for you it may be the evenings.
Find what works best for you!
#28 Reach 10% bodyfat
For the majority of guys, abdominal definition occurs around 10% bodyfat.
#29 reach 8% bodyfat
At 8% bodyfat, you'll notice ab veins and a full six pack (even when you aren't flexing).
This is a great goal if you already have experience with dieting.
On a side note, I don't recommend getting this lean as a beginner because you'll look skinny- fat without much muscle.
#30 eliminate fast food from your diet
This probably isn't news to you...but fast food is horrible for your health.
A large % of the US population is overweight and the majority of their diet consists of processed meat and sugary carbohydrates.
If you're at all concerned about longevity and health beyond looks, then consider eliminating fast food from your diet.
I promise you won't regret it.
#31 abstain from alcohol for 30 days
Heavy drinking can impair fat loss by inhibiting fat oxidation.
So if you want to speed up weight loss, it's best to ditch the booze and start drinking H20 instead!
7 awesome tips for achieving your goals
You can have every intention in the world to achieve your fitness goals...
But the process is never as easy as you think it will be.
That's why you need to have the right mindset!
Below are 7 tips to help you achieve your goals.
tip #1 break it down
How do you eat an elephant?
You break it down into small chunks!
And you need to do the same with big goals.
Break your goals down into small chunks! Write the exact steps you need to take to get from point A-B.
Here's the deal:
If you set yourself a huge task of losing 50 pounds it can be really daunting figuring out how to actually make it happen.
"How much do I exercise?"
"What do I eat"?
"How much do I eat"?
And so on...
That's why you need to physically write down the steps you need to take to achieve your goal.
Let's use the example from above:
- Goal: Lose 50 pounds in 6 months
- How will you achieve it? Lose 2lbs per week by doing 30 minutes of exercise every day and a 500 calorie deficit.
- 12b weight loss (1/4 way goal)
- 25lb weight loss (1/2 way goal)
- 50llb weight loss
- How will you measure it? By taking caliper readings every week and weighing myself everyday.
tip #2 Visualise the process (not the outcome)
Research has shown that visualising the steps needed to reach our goals is more motivating than picturing the end result.
Interestingly, psychologists believe that visualising success tricks your brain into thinking its already achieved your goal.
tip #3 Reward yourself when you hit milestones
All work and no play isn't sustainable in the long run.
That's why you should reward yourself when you hit big milestones.
This gives you a chance to celebrate successes and take a break.
tip #4 be consistent
Have you ever heard the story of the tortoise and the hare?
The moral of the story is not to go slow, but to be consistent.
In fitness, you need to be patient no matter what your goals are.
Just make sure you put the work in day in and day out and success will follow.
tip #5 find your "why"
Each and every one of us has a reason for why we want to achieve certain goals.
This is usually unrelated to the goal but it drives our ambition.
If you can find your "why" then you strike at the heart of what motivates you.
tip #6 develop a strong internal locus of control
tip #7 embrace failures (and learn from them)
On your path to achieving your goals, you'll encounter many setbacks.
You need to learn how to embrace these failures and actually learn from them.
In a sense, these failures can be very instructive by telling you what doesn't work.
BONUS: Fitness goals worksheet
Creating motivating goals is easy when you think SMART.
Remember these 4 simple steps:
- Create a broad goal e.g. I want to lose weight
- Make it specific e.g. I want to lose 10 pounds
- Break it down e.g. I want to lose 10 pounds by jogging 30 mins every morning
- Make it time based e.g. I want to lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks by jogging 30 mins every morning
Consistency is the number #1 way to achieve your goals, no matter how ambitious they are.
At the end of the day, only you are standing in the way of success.
Excuses..or progress? chose ONE.
Now it's over to you!
What is your number #1 fitness goal? And how do you plan on achieving it?
Let me know in the comments below.