How to Set Exercise Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

by Jacob Warwick
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How to Set Exercise Goals You’ll Actually Achieve

Sometimes even the most active and healthy people can occasionally have slip ups or struggle through periods where they lose sight of their exercise motivation. Whether it’s due to an injury, life becomes too busy, or a variety of other reasons, losing your drive can be extremely frustrating.

To get back on track you should start working towards creating achievable goals until you rebuild your confidence and reverse your recent exercise shortcomings—right, I know what you’re thinking, “If it were that easy I’d be doing it already.”

Often times, when others try to offer their motivational support, it can be interpreted as an easy solution—but how could they understand your particular struggle? Do they think this is easy for you?

Well by now, you’re likely to have grown to understand that setting healthy goals and actually achieving them can be one of the most challenging tasks that you do.

To get over the hump and start setting new exercise goals, consider the following tips to help you refocus your mind and begin moving closer to your lifelong dedication to health and fitness. Remember, these are only suggestions. What works best for you will ultimately vary. As with many things in life, these tips won’t work at all unless you put the work in yourself.

Set Goals That You Can Achieve Consistently

When you’re interested in tangibly accomplishing your exercise goals, you should consider altering your mindset to accept a marathon mentality. Marathoners don’t start running 26.2 grueling miles out of thin air, they conquer many smaller goals before scaling to this milestone. Success is rarely something that can be obtained overnight, it’s the result of hard working individuals that maintain a consistent effort in the long run.

No matter how long you’ve fallen off the wagon, you can start setting attainable goals each day to help you get back on track. The idea is to create a challenge for yourself and build upon those challenges consistently—day after day, week after week, year after year and so forth.

This consistency doesn’t necessarily equate to a hard workout every single day—it means that you have consciously accepted that each day is going to present new challenges to overcome, it means that you are actively focused on tackling speed bumps to become a stronger person tomorrow, it means that you aren’t going to let any setback permanently change your path.

Know When to Scale Your Efforts Either Forward or Backward

Understanding whether you are trying to do too much or you’re not focusing enough of your energy towards exercising can be a problem that many athletes and fitness enthusiasts face when achieving their goals. Exercising too much can lead to over stressing your body and a complete burnout, whereas feeling like you aren’t working hard enough can take a serious toll on your mentality and overall attitude towards fitness.

Ideally, we’d like to sit right in the middle of these two extremes, but this is not generally an easy place to find. To build a stronger understanding of where you currently stand, you should learn to listen to your body. Once again, this can feel like a pretty vague answer, but when you think about it deeper, there are few people qualified enough to accurately tell you exactly what your body is going through—it’s up to you to decide.

What you can do, is look for signs that indicate whether you should amp up your exercises or scale back your efforts.

If you’ve lost sleep from evening workouts, you feel sluggish, or your resting heart rate has climbed these can be warning signs that you’re doing too much and headed for a breakdown or an unwanted exercise hiatus.

In contrast, if you aren’t experiencing any physical changes, you don’t feel sore, you have a stagnant or repetitive fitness routine, or you always exercise at the same low intensity, it may be time to try new workouts and increase your output.

When setting exercise goals that you’ll actually achieve, look to find the edge of your comfort zone, but be careful not to overstep your bounds or be too easy on yourself. Finding a happy medium is key to helping maintain a consistent effort moving forward.

Track All of Your Progress

Another problem for many healthy individuals is finding the best exercise formula to reach their long term commitments. Since some goals can only be reached in the distant months or even years ahead, not knowing if you’re on the right track can be frustrating and may cause you to doubt how effective your hard earned workouts have been.

To have a better idea of how well you are moving towards your goals, start documenting and tracking your results. In the past, this was a tedious process that needed to be done by manually by counting calories, measuring your waistline, and even jotting down your weekly body weight; however, with recent advances in mobile technology, you can have access to all of your fitness and nutrition data with just a few taps on your smartphone.

Additionally, experimenting with a wearable device or incorporating health and fitness apps into your exercise routine, can help you collect more data about your workouts and better determine if you are on the right track. While these devices can be a good option, they still have their limitations. Again, if you don’t put the work in, neither can they.

Keep in mind that setting goals is meant to be a positive experience to help you throughout your lifelong health journey. Goals that are too difficult can be overwhelming and lead to disappointment, but goals that are too easy don’t always yield the rewards that your are working towards. Finding a healthy balance that works best for you is the key to creating exercise goals that you’ll actually achieve and feel accomplished when you reach them.

How do you develop exercise goals that you’ll actually achieve? What are some of your biggest setbacks when work towards your goals? Have you ever fallen victim to exercising too much? Answer in the comments section below and as always, your feedback and criticism is warmly welcomed.

This article originally appeared on underarmour.com.

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  • Matt Koller

    I often find myself working out too hard too fast and ultimately burn out every time I start a running routine! I have found that every time this happens, the time in between is getting shorter, so maybe that’s a good thing?!?

  • sheri ahmet

    My problem is the opposite…. I go out run comfortably in effort and miles and lose interest!!!