Staying motivated in the realm of fitness and exercise is all about progression. To make progress, you need to set yourself goals. For most people, goals are what keep them inspired and driven. Here are seven essential tips for setting your own great fitness goals.


  1. Be sure the goal is reasonable. If you set a bar that’s too high for yourself, you are only setting yourself up for disappointment. Falling short of a goal is dispiriting. You don’t want something that’s supposed to motivate you to have the opposite effect. So, be realistic about your abilities and choose a goal that’s practical.


  1. Challenge yourself. On the flip side of the coin, you also don’t want to go to easy on yourself. There’s no point in a goal that won’t really test you. You won’t feel that you have truly accomplished anything if you reach your goal too easily. While you should generally be able to reach your goals, the occasional failure is proof you are truly challenging yourself.


  1. Be specific. Vague goals are nearly worthless. If all you want is to be stronger, faster, or be in better shape, then you haven’t set a genuine benchmark for yourself. Your goal should be concrete and (if possible) measurable so that you really know what you are working towards achieving. For example, aim to run a mile in a specific time, lift a certain amount of weight, or reach a certain body fat percentage.


  1. Make a training plan. The goal you are trying to reach is the outcome — but that still leaves the question of how you will actually achieve that outcome. You need a process by which you will succeed — that’s where your training plan comes in. If you aren’t sure how to best reach your goal, do some research or follow a plan created by a fitness expert.


  1. Choose a time frame. If your goal isn’t at all time-bound, you won’t feel any real pressure towards actually achieving it. You don’t necessarily have to look at your time frame as a hard deadline — but it is important to have some kind of idea of when you are aiming to reach your goal.


  1. Set smaller goals. A major goal can be intimidating — where to even begin? For this reason it’s wise to have one large, overarching goal that can then be divided into smaller goals accomplishable in a short period. Try to have goals you are aiming towards each day and each week. Reaching these small goals will boost your motivation.


  1. Track your progress. Your goal probably won’t help much if you don’t monitor your performance. Tracking progress is how you hold yourself accountable. Your smaller daily and weekly goals can be useful in tracking your progress. Using apps or creating an exercise log are also useful.


As in just about every area of life, success in the world of exercise depends upon knowing how to set and reach goals. Be sure not to overlook or forget the importance of this key aspect of fitness.