The Ultimate Guide to Setting and Achieving Your Fitness Goals

Ray, female personal trainer based in Manchester, sat down focusing on some bicep curls.

Maybe you’ve been working towards a goal for a while but you’re not seeing progress, or maybe you’ve literally just decided that now is the time – either way, you’re going to need direction, motivation and consistency. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’re in the right place!

Define Your Personal Fitness Goals

Firstly, you’re going to want to define your personal fitness goals. You might be thinking that you obviously already know what you want to achieve. However, sometimes fitness goals can just be too big, too much at once, or sometimes a bit conflicting, if you’re trying to take on too many different goals at the same time.

It might be that you want to Deadlift 100kg, but also want to lose weight and get leaner. Maybe you want to bulk up and put on as much muscle as possible and you also want to do your first bodyweight pull up. Both of these combinations are slightly conflicting. You won’t be able to really achieve one without slightly sacrificing the other. So it’s a good idea to prioritise – what is your main goal?

You also want to make sure your goals are realistic. Otherwise, when you don’t see the level of progression you’re aiming for in a set timeframe, it’s easy to get demotivated. If you’re unsure of what is achievable in a given timeframe, ask a pro – whether that be an online coach, a trainer in your gym, or, you’re of course welcome to drop me a DM on insta and I’ll be happy to advise.

For most goals, pushing for too much progress too fast can lead to negative effects as well. For example, lifting too heavy too fast can lead to injury. Going over an ideal bulking calorie target can mean that you put on a lot of excess fat. And, losing weight too fast can negatively affect your metabolism and end up having the opposite effect. 

Create a Plan and Schedule

Secondly, if you’re wanting to really commit to a new fitness goal, creating a plan and schedule of when you’re going to put the work in is a really good idea. It needs to be something you can stick to though – you don’t want to be too ambitious and say you’re going to train 5 times per week, when currently you train once. It’s a big change in your lifestyle and you’ll likely start to resent the routine. So make sure you build it up realistically.

In terms of timings, again, be realistic. If you find it hard to get motivated in the morning, don’t commit to getting up at 5am every day to train. You know it’s not going to happen. So set yourself up for success. The more you’re able to be consistent from the start, the more you build the habit and it becomes part of your life. A thing you just do.

I’d also recommend popping your sessions in your diary, or whatever you use to organise your time, just like it’s an appointment or something else you can’t miss. Instead of ‘aiming’ to train at 7pm, you’re giving it that status that you’re definitely going to do it. This might seem a bit strict, however there’s a reason you’re reading this – it’s time to get serious about your fitness goals 😉

Start with Small, Achievable Steps

Similar to the above, it’s important to not bite off more than you can chew. So once you’ve set a realistic, achievable goal, I’d recommend breaking it down into smaller steps. To keep motivated, most of us need to feel like we’re getting somewhere. Creating smaller goalposts that you can work towards, will mean you can celebrate smaller wins more often. Many small wins make up a big one; you just need to remember to notice them and appreciate them.

A lot of us are too hard on ourselves and will only let ourselves appreciate a win if it’s something we think is a huge achievement. But honestly, allowing yourself time to appreciate the smaller wins will do wonders for your motivation and it’s also just really good practice in being kinder to yourself (heart hands).

Setting smaller goals also gives you more clarity in terms of where you should expect to be. For example, next month or in three months time, so you can keep track easier of how you’re getting on. Taking the Deadlift goal, you could set goals of how much weight you want to add each week or every two weeks (depending on where you are starting from).

Track Your Progress towards Fitness Goals

I’ve touched on this a couple of times already but tracking where you’re at is essential. You can see how fast you are progressing to be able to set the smaller goals discussed above going forwards. It also means that you can identify if you seem to be plateauing and therefore if you need to re-evaluate your plan. It’s also essential for motivation – feeling like you’re getting somewhere by actually seeing it – the numbers don’t lie!

You can keep track of your progress using free logging apps, spreadsheets, a notebook or even just a notes app on your phone – whatever is going to suit you best. Tracking can also be great for giving you an extra sense of achievement- like BAM that’s what I did today! That’s what I achieved!

Ray, Personal Trainer in Manchester, said down with a client having a laugh and taking some notes.

Stay Motivated and Stay Consistent

I’ve mentioned this part a lot, but motivation, or lack of, can be the difference between success and failure. Motivation can be hard when you start working towards a fitness goal and you feel like you have a huge amount of work to do to get there.

At the start, before you see any real progress, it’s often the hardest period in terms of keeping motivated. A lot of the time, seeing some progress can be a great source of motivation to keep going! But if you haven’t got there yet, it can be really tough to keep going to reach that point. However, if you have a solid plan and you’re consistent, you WILL get there. You just need to trust the process and stay consistent.

Set yourself an initial consistency target of say 6 weeks. Stick to your plan and work towards your goals at the times you’ve said you will each and every week for six weeks. Then you can take a step back and review how you’re getting on. If you’ve done exactly what you’d said you would for those 6 weeks, I bet you’ll be seeing improvement already, and so there’s a fresh plate of motivation for ya.

Accountability

Sometimes we all need a little accountability, and often this means bringing others on board to support you in your fitness goals. This support can be in the form of holding you accountable to actually do what you’ve said you would. So this could simply be a friend checking in once per week and asking how you’ve been getting on. It could be as much as sharing your progress tracking with them, or verbally giving them a rundown of everything you’ve done that week towards your goal. You could even share the times/days you are planning to train so they can check in and see if you actually did what you said you would.

You don’t need to go it alone! You’ll be surprised how enthusiastic people can be when you ask for help, no matter how trivial it may seem. If you are looking for a female personal trainer in Manchester to help you get started, get in contact for a chat to see how I can help.

Go and Get It!

I hope that’s inspired you to go and GET IT, whatever your goals may be, with a bit more clarity and an action plan for how to get started. Feel like you need a bit more of a hand and want to chat about working together? Complete an interest form and we can grab a brew.

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Picture of Ray Hickford

Ray Hickford

Hi, I’m Ray, a health and wellbeing professional in Manchester working with clients through training and nutrition programmes to help them feel more confident, strong and happy both in and outside of the gym.
As a Qualified Personal Trainer and Level 4 RSPH Nutrition Advisor, I am constantly learning myself - from my clients, from other industry experts and sometimes myself! And sometimes I write some of this down for ya.

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