By now, most of us will have settled into the New Year, and are back to the routines of work and family life. Although it may seem logical to dive straight into your fitness goals at the beginning of the month, it’s more important to re-establish work/family routines, before evaluating your fitness goals. As work and family commitments re-balance, you’ll find yourself in a more motivated position to achieve your goals.

Whether you’re new to exercise, coming back from a break, or an experienced exerciser, follow these five simple tips to help set the right health and fitness goals for you.

1. ASSESS YOUR READINESS

While we may feel physically ready to exercise, we may not be mentally ready. Coming back after the holiday break will often require a period of adjustment – if you jump straight into a fitness training plan, you may find yourself crashing out early. Therefore, take some time to assess your work, family and social timetable, and use this information to create the best plan to start or return to regular training.

2. SET REALISTIC GOALS AND OUTCOMES

While it’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of getting fitter and healthier, or the latest fitness trend – don’t forget to be realistic about your goals. First ensure your goals are specific, measurable and timed – then turn these goals into outcomes by identifying what success looks and feels like, and what resources you will need to get there. For example, wanting to lose 5kg in 3 months to look good on the beach is a specific, measurable and timed goal; knowing that you will need to hit the gym 3x/week, eat healthily and cut down on take-outs, turns this goal into a desired outcome.

3. CHOOSE THE BEST TRAINING METHOD

In an industry that is driven by many different training methods, it’s easy to get caught up in the latest fitness trends. Often, such training methods are not aligned with our readiness, physical ability or goals – eventually resulting in loss of motivation, non-achievement of goals, and exercise drop-out. Therefore, look at your goals and identify the methods that will achieve them in a realistic timeframe without over-training. For example, if you want to improve fitness and can only go to the gym twice a week, high intensity interval training could be the best training method for you.

4. HEALTH VS. FITNESS GOALS

Health and fitness are often used to mean the same thing, but there are important distinctions. Health-related goals may include weight loss, improving cardio respiratory fitness, pain-free movement, and enhanced psychological well-being. Fitness goals can include improving strength, endurance, flexibility, power etc. Understanding these differences will allow you to refine your goals and identify the most suitable and safest training methods.

5. KEEP IT SIMPLE

Whether you’re new to exercise or an experienced exerciser, develop (or re-establish) a strong fitness foundation, then continue to build on that as fitness improves. During this time, focus on fundamental movements such as squatting, lunging, bending, pushing, pulling, twisting and locomotion. As you become stronger and more resilient in these movements, you will reduce your risk of injury as you get fitter.

SUMMARY

Setting the right fitness goals for long term success requires adequate timing and planning. This process begins with setting defined and realistic health and fitness goals and using these to establish the best training method for you.

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