One of the best ways to get the most out of your fitness journey is to set fitness goals. Fitness goals help keep you focused and stay committed to success.
However, it is important to remember that everyone starts at a different ability level. Some people were star athletes in school, some may have played the occasional pick-up game on the weekend, while others’ primary game was “Magic: The Gathering.” No matter what your ability, you can quickly tailor goals and start completing them successfully.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T., borrowed from the business world, is a good guide to help establish your fitness goals.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
For example; ” I am going to try and work on some pull ups” is a little vague. However, “I am working toward one unassisted strict pull up” is much more specific for a fitness goal.
Once you establish a baseline, you can better calculate your fitness goal. For example, if you run an 8-minute mile, a new goal could be a sub-7:45-minute mile.
It is good to challenge yourself, but if you can’t yet do a handstand, make that a fitness goal first before a 50-meter handstand walk.
If you haven’t run in ten years, a marathon might not be a realistic short-term fitness goal. Try shuttle runs for time or a scaled run first.
Especially early on in fitness goal setting, timeliness is key! Make your goals monthly, not annually. Annual goals have a way of being easily dismissed.
Setting Fitness Goals
So now that you are a S.M.A.R.T.(er) goal setter, here are a few more tips.
For CrossFit, choose one metcon, one weight, and one gymnastics goal for your first month and make it a baseline. Try anything you want, but make sure it’s something you want work on and complete.
A metcon goal could be a rowing or running time/distance.
A weight goal could be one movement with weights or even body weight exercises.
A gymnastics goal could be strict ring rows, L-sits, or even a specific stretch.
Some may think of choosing three goals like hedging your bets. For example, you may achieve 1 of the 3 fitness goals in the first month and that is great! But keep working until you achieve all 3. Again the key is to make your goals S.M.A.R.T.
I recommend not making “Completing WODs Rx” a goal until you get comfortable with the movements in the WOD. Scaling is important, and too many times people get caught up in a sense of competition which increases the risk of injury. If you have to do Fran with wall balls and band-assisted pull ups, that’s ok.
I remember the first Rx “girl” WOD I did–“Helen.” For the longest time, I had to use a band with the pull ups. Then after a few months of sticking with it, I didn’t.
So now you have some ideas about setting some goals.
Write down your goals and your progress.
If your coach has everyone write goals on a whiteboard, great! You could also keep a small exercise journal in your gym bag or even jot it down on your phone or in an app. There are a number of apps like Beyond The Whiteboard, XFit PR and Workout Hero that are popular with CrossFitters. If you keep track you can see the progress you are making which is very powerful motivation.
Get advice and learn.
Your coaches are there to help, so use them. But don’t be afraid to talk to people who excel at something you may be striving toward — they may have tips that can help. There are plenty of YouTube videos on movements or scaling that are also invaluable. Stay committed and practice!
Last August, I set out to complete a 2000-meter row. I had only done a few 1000-meter rows to that point, and I wanted to establish a baseline for my 2000-meter (which was 8:09 by the way).
Twice a week on non-CrossFit days, I practiced 2000-meter rows and aimed to knock 5-10 seconds off my baseline each month. After my WODs, I would always “cash-out” with a 1000-meter row, just to keep my legs and lungs ready. By the end of November, my 2000-meter row was down to 7:11 as I closed in on my new annual goal of a sub-7-minute 2000-meter row.
Sometimes practicing and working toward one goal will translate to success in another area or skill. For example, handstand push-ups can translate to a better strict press or proper form for your dead lift can provide better rowing dynamics. So don’t hesitate to branch out and try a few different things from month to month.
Don’t forget to have fun, be safe and be S.M.A.R.T. about your goals.