Healthy Lifestyle

The Effectiveness of Goal Setting:

Goal setting has become a forgotten ingredient in most fitness programs.

By Paris Pippillion RES, CPT, RHPS

Whether you are a beginner starting a new training program or a seasoned athlete who wants to take their workout to the next level, goal setting is essential in governing the behavioral changes needed to achieve the desired results.

Excitement vs. Goal Setting

Regardless if you are trying to lose weight, increase performance, or follow doctor’s orders,  there will be some level of excitement that motivates you in the beginning.  Yet once the initial motivation dies down and the drive to the gym seems like a long drive down a dark country road, goal setting becomes that oasis in the desert. I know from experience.

Being a competitive bodybuilder, monitoring my progress through goal setting is one of the most important components to my success. Diets, workouts, and even schedules change during my 16 week program, yet the goals I set are what stays consistent and keeps me totally focused through the tough times.

Identify your Goal type

Let’s look at some ways to identify your goals. Goals can fall into 3 categories: Outcome goals, Performance goals, and Process goals (Weinberg & Gould, 2003 Foundations of sport and exercise psychology, 3rd Ed.).

  • Outcome goals. Usually focus on the result or end of some activity like weight loss, getting into size 4 jeans or running a marathon.
  • Performance goals. Goals of behavior or performance that is independent of their actions. For instance running a faster mile, learning how to swim, or a faster tennis serve.
  • Process goals. Emphasizes the action or qualities that one wishes to characterize behavior, such as learning how to work out without a trainer or controlling your breathing when swimming.

 Approach your goals the S.M.A.R.T way

S.M.A.R.T is a great model for framing your goals. S-specific, M-measurable, A-action oriented, R-realistic, T-timely (Smith, H.W. 1994).

Let’s use the most common goals, which are Outcome goals, as a model.

S-specific. My goal is to lose 15 pounds in 15 weeks starting May 1 through August 9

M- measurable. How will I measure my goals?

  1. I will weigh and record my weight every 2 weeks.
  2. I will take my estimated body fat or measurements every 2 weeks using skinfold calipers or tape measure.

A-action oriented. Action plan.

  1. Park further away from the entrance and take the stairs instead of the elevator at work.
  2. Record my caloric intake to see if I can decrease calories for weight loss or perhaps  increase calories for performance.
  3. I will do three to four 45 minute cardio sessions and 2-3 resistance training sessions a week.
  4. I plan to prepare all my meals early in the week so I can eat out less and control my protions.

R-realistic. My goal is realistic because:

  1. I have a trainer to help me exercise and be accountable.
  2. I have a plan of action that guarantees me to lose 1 pound a week.

T-timely.My program begins May 1 and ends August 9. I estimate 1lb weight loss a week which gives me a reachable 15lb in 15 weeks.


Goal setting is not a “try it to see if it works for you” idea.  Using this goal setting system will help you remain focused, overcome distractions, and keep your workout exciting and more meaningful, thus increasing your chances of success.

Get Active, Train Hard, and Live Healthy!


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