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How to Set SMART Goals for Strength Training

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Set Goals, Train with Purpose

In today’s new video, Barbell Logic Coach, Brooke Haubenstricker shares her strategies for encouraging clients to align SMART goals with their training.

Why Set Goals?

“Whenever I start coaching a new client, I ask them what their goals are. More often than not, the only thing they say is, ‘I want to get stronger.’ But that goal isn’t good enough. Not because being stronger isn’t something that we should strive towards, but because it doesn’t establish a clear direction for our training.

Goals drive our training and separate us from the exercisers because they give our physical activity a purpose. Having a weak goal is better than having no goal, but there is a way to create goals to optimize their usefulness in your training. The most effective goals are SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

SMART Goals – Specific

Specific goals lay the foundation for all other goal details. It answers the question of what you’re trying to accomplish, so you can then map out how to get there.

As an example, let’s analyze, “I want to get stronger.” Stronger… what? Stronger glutes? A heavier deadlift? Do you just want to be able to stand up out of a chair without using your arms? In other words… What is it you want to be able to do?

SMART Goals – Measurable

Having some unit of measurement for your goal allows you to track your progress. It’s more difficult to work towards something when you don’t know how far away you are or if anything you’re doing is actually helping you move closer to your goal.

Ideally, goals should be quantitative, meaning they are measured numerically, because they are the easiest to track. Examples would be a 200lb press or going down to 25% body fat.

Progress is trickier to calculate for qualitative goals because they tend to be measured as success or failure. For example, if you want to make it onto a sports team, you either made it or you didn’t. In these situations, it’s best to set up mini-goals that will support the achievement of the main goal, and these should be quantitative more often than not. If typical players on this team have a 300lb squat, make that a goal. If they tend to weigh a certain amount, make that another goal. Progress becomes trackable through the completion of these mini-goals, which makes the lifter feel as though they’re making headway and it keeps their focus on things that are within their control.

SMART Goals – Attainable

Your goals must have the possibility of being completed in general. That means it’s something that some human living right now would be able to complete.

For instance, no one can become an Olympic presser right now because that event was taken out of the Olympics almost 50 years ago.

SMART Goals – Realistic

YOU must be capable of achieving your goals. Be honest with yourself. Consider your current and future capabilities and obstacles.

I like my lifters to dream big, so one way I can get around goals that might be realistic but are definitely far-off is to create smaller ones to work towards along the way. A lifter may be able to work up to a 250lb power clean one day, but until then we’ll work toward goals of 175lbs, 200lbs, and 225lbs.

SMART Goals – Timely

This gives an “expiration date” to your goal completion. Having a timeline introduces some accountability by making it more difficult to put off work and it can encourage a lifter to push themselves harder in their training.

I split up goals into two categories: Short-term and long-term goals. For weightlifting, short-term goals are typically completed within one calendar year. As such, they are completed updated more frequently. Long-term goals (sometimes called “lifetime goals”) can be completed within the next few years or few decades. You don’t have to set hard dates for goal completion though; do what works best for you.

Goals are not set-in-stone. They can be modified, replaced, stretched out, or thrown out entirely. If you’re setting goals for yourself and have complete autonomy over them, be careful with making too many updates. Goals lose their value if they’re constantly changing, you could lose motivation if you’re not completing goals, and training can become ineffective if your direction changes too frequently. If you need help setting goals, making a training program to reach your goals, or accountability so you actually complete your goals, consider hiring a coach from Barbell Logic Online Coaching today!”




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