Work SMARTer not harder

As you might have guessed, Steve is obsessed with goals. From experience working on his own goals and helping others achieve theirs, he has become an authority on how to set and achieve your goals. His method is a focused spin on the battle tested SMART goals formula. This method is geared around health and fitness goals, but can be used to set and achieve any goals you have.

If this is your first time reading this, read from top to bottom. But if you are returning as a reference, or are already familiar with SMART goals, feel free to skip to the most relevant sections:

What SMART Fitness Goals Are
Why You Should Use SMART Fitness Goals
How to Make SMART Fitness Goals
The Three Common SMART Fitness Goals

Every goal is important but not every goal is created equal. Some fitness goals fail because of unpredictable outside forces make them impossible, some fitness goals fail because they are abandoned, but most fitness goals fail before they ever have a chance to succeed because they are not SMART fitness goals.

To create your own SMART fitness goals, download our SMART Fitness Goals Worksheet. This is designed to guide you through developing a SMART fitness plan including calorie expenditure diet planning calculations.

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You’ll also receive a coupon 10% off your next order with your worksheet.

The calculations included in this worksheet are based on Metabolic Equivalent figures from the World Health Organisation, the Mifflin-St Jeor BMR formula, and the US Navy’s body fat calculation method.

In the business world, SMART goals are commonly lauded and used by successful entrepreneurs and senior management teams in major corporations. This is often at the core of their success. But the fitness world has not widely adapted SMART goals despite how consistently they drive success in other spheres. Goals by Steve aims to change that!

What SMART Fitness Goals Are

SMART Fitness goals are a fitness focused spin on traditional SMART goals. They are concrete targets that are pursued over a set period of time. They should be created from you, the person who wants to improve their fitness, and can then be shared with personal trainers, friends, and family members.

The acronym SMART stands for each of the aspects of the goal setting methodology that make it so effective.

Specific

Without defining exactly what you’re trying to improve, it’s difficult to outline the steps you need to take to make progress. A specific goal is one that you could share with a personal trainer in 10 seconds that would clearly explain what you’re trying to achieve.

Measurable

It’s crucial that your goal is trackable and numeric. Many people simply say that they want to gain muscle, for example, but they don’t specify how much they’d like to gain. As soon as you attach a number to your goal, you’ll be able to track exactly how far you’ve come since you set the goal and how far you have left until you reach it.

Attainable

While aiming to break records is laudable, it’s important to keep your goals realistic. Most people can gain between 0.5 and 1kg of muscle per month, so aiming to gain 15kgs in a month is not realistic. Don’t set yourself up to feel discouraged by a huge goal and lose motivation. Instead, set yourself up to succeed by creating goals that are realistic.

Relevant

Ask yourself why you’re setting the goal that you are. How is it going to contribute to your overall wellbeing and happiness? Ultimately, your fitness goal should be tied back to health and happiness. If it’s not, consider how you can change or adjust your initial goal.

Time-bound

The final aspect of SMART fitness goals is one of the most important: setting a timeline for meeting your goal. Without a timeline, you won’t be able to determine whether the changes you’re making are keeping you on track toward achieving your ultimate goal.

In order to be a SMART fitness goal, a goal needs to reflect all five characteristics. This ensures that the goal can be achieved and will benefit you. Below, we’ll cover how to write a goal that meets the SMART fitness goal criteria.

Why You Should Use SMART Fitness Goals

Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound are significantly more likely to be achieved. The method ensures that your goals are attainable and include metrics that define success and point you along the path to reaching that success. Vague goals without timelines or listed benefits are less likely to be achieved because you are more likely to lose focus and fall short of your goal.

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How to Create SMART Fitness Goals

Creating SMART Fitness goals is simple as well as powerful. Remember and understand the five components:

  1. Create your goal with specific phrasing.
  2. Make sure your goal is measurable.
  3. Ensure your goal is realistic.
  4. Know why your goal matters. Make sure it is relevant to you.
  5. Include a specific time-bound end date that your target must be met by.

Let’s work through these steps with an example, starting with a fitness goal that doesn’t meet any of the SMART fitness goal criteria: ‘I want to increase my fitness level’.

Write your Goal with Specific Phrasing

Our first instinct in setting goals is often to think of the vague notion of what we want to achieve, like ‘increase my fitness level’. But this is an uncertain goal. What is an increased fitness level? This can be interpreted in many ways by different people. Most strikingly, it can mean losing weight for some people but gaining weight for others. For many people, fitness is tied specifically to cardio and endurance.

Being specific is necessary to setting a goal you can strive for. If a goal isn’t well defined, how do you take actions to achieve the goal? If you want to gain muscle mass, focusing on cardio isn’t a good plan to help you achieve your actual goal, even though it may increase your fitness level.

To make the goal specific, the goal ‘I want to increase my fitness level’ should be changed to ‘I want to increase my lean muscle mass’. But our goal is not yet a SMART fitness goal.

Make Sure Your Goal is Measurable

If a goal is measurable, you can track your progress and actually know when you have hit your goal! In most cases, a goal must have a number attached to it in order to be attainable.

Let’s return to our example fitness goal: ‘I want to increase my lean muscle mass’. While it is a specific goal, we currently have no way to measure when it has been achieved. Technically, we could consider this goal complete after having gained only 10 grams of muscle mass. Without measurable goals, people tend to lose focus on their aims before they are complete enough to create satisfaction.

To make our example fitness goal specific, we need to include a measurable target like: ‘I want to gain 10 kilograms of weight with less than a 2% increase in body fat.’

Make Sure your Goal is Relevant to You

Goals that are relevant to you are goals that, when achieved, move you toward your desires. If you don’t know why you are pursuing a goal, you are unlikely to pursue it with enough gusto to attain it.

If you’re reading this, you probably have a goal in mind that you care about achieving. But being specific and actually listing why you want to achieve your goal will ensure your desire stays front of mind and helps sustain your motivation through the hard work fitness goals often require.

Our example fitness goal so far is: ‘I weigh 75 kilograms and I want to weigh 85 kilograms with less than a 2% increase in body fat.’ The question to ask is ‘Will achieving this goal help me get where I want to be?’ Assuming the answer is ‘Yes’, the next question is ‘Why do I want to achieve this goal?’ A common answer, if the goal is relevant, is ‘Because growing lean muscle mass improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.’

If your goal doesn’t match up with your desires and any bigger picture or longer term goals, adjust it until it does or set a new goal.

Rewriting our example fitness goal to highlight its relevance: ‘I weigh 75 kilograms and I want to weigh 85 kilograms with less than a 2% increase in body fat because growing lean muscle mass improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.’

Include a Specific Time-Bound End Date that your Target Must be Met By

A fitness goal must always be time-bound. If you don’t have a specific timeline for achieving your goal, it is much easier to let your drive and motivation slip and much harder to recognise when you are not on track. On the other hand, if your goal is time-bound you will have more constant motivation to achieve your goal and a much clearer idea of your progress relative to what you are aiming for.

Our example fitness goal is to gain 10 kilograms of lean mass. If our timeline is 9 months, this gives us a midpoint benchmark of 5 kilograms that should be achieved within 4.5 months and monthly benchmarks of just over a kilogram per month. If you gain only 3 kilograms 4.5 months in, you will need to reevaluate your strategy to achieve your goal. If you gain 2 kilograms for each of the first two months, you may want to adjust your goal to be more ambitious.

So finally our SMART fitness goal is: ‘I weigh 75 kilograms and I want to weigh 85 kilograms in 9 months with less than a 2% increase in body fat because growing lean muscle mass improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.’

After creating a SMART fitness goal that reflections all five necessary aspects, an additional step to make you even more likely to succeed is to run through the preemptive obstacle and roadblock evaluation system included in the SMART Fitness Goals Worksheet. This worksheet also includes some diet and exercise calculations so you can make evidence based adjustments to your lifestyle that supports your SMART Fitness Goal.

Four Examples of SMART Fitness Goals

Fitness goals are diverse and so far we have only covered one example, so below is a more diverse range of examples of SMART fitness goals you can model your own goals on. We’ll start with a brief summary of the example from above.

Grow Lean Muscle

Non-SMART Fitness goal: I want to increase my fitness level.

Specific: I want to increase my lean mass with a new diet and exercise routine.

Measureable: My target is a 10 kilogram increase in mass with less than a 2% increase in body fat percentage.

Attainable: My goal is a 10 kilograms gain. I’ve already gained 10 kilograms since I started training regularly.

Relevant: By increasing my lean muscle mass, I will increase my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Time-Bound: I will hit my goal within 9 months, 3/4th of the time it took me to build my last 10 kilograms. 

SMART Goal: I weigh 75 kilograms and I want to weigh 85 kilograms in 9 months with less than a 2% increase in body fat because growing lean muscle mass improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Products that support this goal: WPI by Steve or ALT by Steve paired with Energise by Steve and Slow by Steve.

Bulk Muscle Gain

Non-SMART Fitness goal: I want to increase my fitness level.

Specific: I want to quickly increase my mass with a new diet and exercise routine.

Measureable: My target is a 15 kilogram increase in mass with less than a 6% increase in body fat percentage.

Attainable: My goal is a 15 kilogram gain. I’ve already gained 10 kilograms since I started training regularly with a modest increase in calorie intake.

Relevant: By increasing my muscle mass, I will increase my sense of physical and mental wellbeing, especially after shredding the fat gain after.

Time-Bound: I will hit my goal within 6 months, half of the time it took me to build my 10 kilograms without a bulking diet.

SMART Goal: I weigh 75 kilograms and I want to weigh 90 kilograms in 6 months with less than a 6% increase in body fat because growing lean muscle mass improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Products that support this goal: Mass Gainer by Steve or ALT by Steve paired with Energise by Steve and Slow by Steve.

Shred Fat

Non-SMART Fitness goal: I want to increase my fitness level.

Specific: I want to lose weight with my minimal loss muscle mass and strength with a new diet and exercise routine.

Measureable: My target is a 10 kilogram decrease in weight with at least a 8% decrease in body fat percentage.

Attainable: My goal is a 10 kilograms shred. I have 20 kilograms of surplus fat and have already l0 kilograms over a year by adding exercise to my lifestyle.

Relevant: By decreasing my body fat, I will increase my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Time-Bound: I will hit my goal within 6 months.

SMART Goal: I weigh 90 kilograms and I want to weigh 80 kilograms in 6 months with less than an 8% decrease in body fat because growing lean muscle mass improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Products that support this goal: Fire Whey by Steve or ALT by Steve paired with Energise by Steve and Slow by Steve.

Grow Stronger

Non-SMART Fitness goal: I want to increase my fitness level.

Specific: I want to lose weight with my minimal loss muscle mass and strength with a new diet and exercise routine.

Measureable: I want to increase my 3 rep max by 50 kilograms for deadlifts, 30 kilograms for squats, and 20 kilograms for bench with a new diet and exercise routine.

Attainable: My current 3 rep max is 120 for deadlifts, 100 for squats, and 90 for bench. These increases are significant but not out of reach.

Relevant: By increasing my physical strength, I will increase my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Time-Bound: I will hit my goal within 5 months, requiring 10 kilograms added to my deadlifts per month and a proportionate increase to my squats and bench 3 rep maximum lifts.

SMART Goal: I can currently perform 3 repetitions of deadlifts at 120 kilograms, squats at 100 kilograms, and bench press at 90 kilograms. I want to be able to perform these exercises at 170, 130, and 110 kilograms respectively within 5 months because increasing my physical strength improves my sense of physical and mental wellbeing.

Products that support this goal: WPI by Steve or ALT by Steve paired with Energise by Steve and Slow by Steve. This goal can also be achieved with the support of Mass Gainer by Steve, potentially faster but with more mass gained in the process.

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