When it comes to fitness, setting long-term goals is key. Many people focus on short-term goals, but if you want to see real results, you need to think long-term. So whether you are just starting your fitness journey or you have been working out for years, these long-term fitness goal examples will help you reach your ultimate fitness destination!
It can be difficult to come up with long-term fitness goals, especially if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey. However, setting long-term goals is important for keeping yourself motivated and on track.
Long-Term vs Short-Term Fitness Goals
Before we dive in, it’s important to understand what we mean by “long-term” and “short-term” fitness goals.
Long term goals are those that will take six to twelve months to achieve. Whereas, short-term goals can be achieved by the end of the day, end of the week, or end of the month.
Don’t be overwhelmed by this time frame of achieving a long-term goal. In fact, you will increase your chance of successfully meeting your goal in the weeks and months ahead of you.
I personally know the power of setting a long-term fitness goal. A few years ago, I was convinced by a friend to train with her to walk a marathon. I basically went from couch to marathon in 6 months.
On the first day of training in April, I walked 3 miles and in October I walked and ran 26.2 miles! It all started with a SMART long-term fitness goal to walk a marathon in 6 months. I followed this up with a half marathon 5 months later.
You need more than a fitness goal, more specifically, you should have SMART goals since it is one of the best ways to achieve your long-term fitness goals. Setting SMART fitness goals is also a great way to stay motivated.
The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
S: Specific – your long-term fitness goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to measure or track your progress.
For example, although your goal is to lose weight, your fitness goal should be more specific. Like, lose 20 by December 31, 2022. A specific goal is much more powerful than a vague goal.
M: Measurable – in order to stay motivated, it’s important to be able to measure your progress towards your long-term fitness goal.
Obviously measurable goals are better than one you cannot measure. How will you know if you met your goal? When I crossed the marathon finish line and received a medal, I knew that I met my goal!
A: Achievable – make sure that your long-term fitness goal is achievable, otherwise you may get discouraged along the way. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure by choosing a goal that’s too difficult or unrealistic.
For instance, while we would all like to lose 10 pounds in a week, that is simply too much for the average person. It may take 6 – 10 weeks to lose 10 pounds.
In fact, according to most experts setting unrealistic goals is one of the biggest reasons for failing to meet your fitness goal.
The best way to ensure that your long-term health and fitness goals are realistic is to break them down into smaller, more manageable steps. This will help you stay on track and motivated while working towards your final goal.
So maybe you would like to lose 1 pound per week towards your ultimate weight loss goal.
On the other hand, your goal should not be too easy. It still should be a challenge. You need to get out of your comfort zone. After all, it’s not motivating if your goal is not a stretch for you to attain.
R: Relevant – choose a long-term fitness goal that is relevant to your current lifestyle and health needs. Your goal has to make sense for you.
For example, if you don’t like running, then don’t set a goal to run a marathon. Perhaps you can be like one of my friends who is a cancer survivor. She trained and fundraised for a two-day cancer charity cycle event.
T: Timely – set a timeline for yourself and make sure your long-term fitness goal is achievable within that time frame.
Your deadline should not be too long from your starting point otherwise you’ll probably keep putting it off and never accomplish it. I recommend nothing longer than 12 months.
SMARTER Fitness Goals
After my first experience with SMART fitness goals, I was introduced to SMARTER fitness goals.
E: Enjoyable/Exciting – Although it seems obvious, you increase your chance of success if your goal is enjoyable or exciting to you. You must love your new fitness routine and lifestyle change.
R: Rewarding – How rewarding will it be for you to achieve your fitness goal? If you can imagine shouting at the top of your lungs letting the world know that you have met your goal, then it’s worth it for you!
Think of my friend, the cancer survivor. When you finished her two-day race, somehow she found the strength to triumphantly lift her bike over her head, and screamed, “I did it!”
In my case, words can’t describe the exhilaration I felt crossing the marathon finish line. Also, all the life lessons I learned from that experience.
I cannot tell you how many times when faced challenges, how many times I said that if I can complete a marathon, I can do this!
If you want to get fit but don’t know where to start, setting SMART fitness goals is a great way. Without SMART (ER) fitness goals in place, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up on your health and fitness journey. You are much more likely to reach a goal that follows these criteria.
Create Your Smart Long-Tern Fitness Goals
Whatever your fitness level or interests, there is a way to set SMART fitness goals that will work for you. Once you’ve determined that your fitness goal is SMART(ER), it’s time to create it!
Here are some tips:
- Start with the end in mind. What do you want to achieve?
- Make a plan. How are you going to achieve your goal?
- Get started! Take action and get moving towards your goal.
- Measure progress. Keep track of how you’re doing and make adjustments as needed along the way.
- Celebrate successes along the way! Achieving your fitness goals is a major accomplishment, so be sure to celebrate accordingly.
SMART Long-Term Fitness Goal Examples
Different fitness goals will work for different people. It all depends on what your overall long-term health goal is and your current fitness program. Here are a few examples of long-term fitness goals that you can strive for to improve your health.
Getting fit and healthy is not a short-term process; it takes time and dedication. But if you are willing to put in the work, I promise you will see results!
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle, or simply improve your overall health, these long-term fitness goals will help you reach your target in a sustainable way.
1. Lose Weight
Losing weight is one of the most common fitness goals. Every New Year’s Eve we all resolve to lose weight but most of us fail to achieve long-term results.
It can be tough to know where to start. But a good SMART goal might be to lose X number of pounds within a certain timeframe. For example, you could aim to lose 20 pounds in six months.
Remember that experts warn that it is best to lose weight slowly for it to be permanent. Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week depending on your starting weight.
If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, try having small goals every 6 months. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming and discouraging when you think of the length of time to succeed.
Also read Best First Steps to Weight Loss
Also read FREE Printable Weight Loss Tracker
2. Reduce Waist Circumference
Perhaps you are more concerned with your body composition, rather than your weight. If your weight is concentrated around your waist, in other words, your waist is larger than your hips, you have a higher risk of heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
And as such your long-term fitness goal might be to reduce your waist. A realistic goal is to lose about one inch in a month. Women should aim to have a waist of 35 inches or less, while for men 40 inches or less is best for long-term health.
Depending on how much you have to lose, your SMART goal might be to reduce your waist 6 inches in 6 months by doing 30 minutes of aerobic exercise 5 days a week, doing 3 sets of ab exercises 3 days a week, and eating a healthy diet 80% of the time.
3. Reduce Body Fat Percentage
Another popular fitness goal is to reduce your body fat percentage. However, building muscle takes time and dedication. A reasonable goal might be to reduce X percentage of body fat within a certain timeframe.
According to the experts, a healthy amount of body fat to lose is about 1 to 3% per month. But this varies, for instance, by gender, age, ethnicity, and body type.
For example, you could aim to add reduce your body fat percentage by 6 points in six months. Then break this down into smaller goals that you can achieve each week or month. For example, “I will lift weights three times per week” and “I will eat a healthy diet 80% of the time.”
4. Increase Strength
In addition to reducing body fat, many of us also want to increase strength. Push-ups and sit-ups are two ways to test your muscular strength and endurance.
To turn this into a SMART goal, you should specify the number of push up and sit-ups you will do in 6 months. Once you have your starting point, then you can decide how much you’ll like to improve in 6 months.
Depending on your fitness level, push-ups and sit-ups might be too easy for you. So why not change the goal to increase chin-ups by 10 repetitions or increase bench press by 30 pounds in 6 months.
5. Improve Cardiovascular Health
If you are trying to improve your cardiovascular health, your long-term fitness goal should be focused on increasing your heart health and physical activity.
There are different ways to gauge your progress, You can measure your resting heart rate. A healthy heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. However, the fitter you are the lower the rate. How much can you lower your resting heart rate?
Alternatively, you can also see how fast you can run or jog 1.5 miles. Here are the average times in minutes by age and sex:
To make this type of goal SMART, depending on your current fitness level, specify how much you want to improve your cardiovascular health within a certain timeframe. For example, “I will do aerobic exercise (e.g., a brisk walk, running or jogging) for 30 minutes five days per week” and “I will eat a healthy diet 80% of the time.”
Also read Best FREE Printable Fitness Tracker
Pick a SMART Long-Term Fitness Goal and Start Today!
The above goals are just some ideas to get you started. What is important is that you set a goal that is realistic and achievable for you. Once you have your goal in mind, start putting together a plan to make it happen!
It’s important to remember that not all long term fitness goals have to be based on improving physical performance – you could also set a long-term health goal such as quitting smoking, decreasing your blood pressure, reducing your intake of junk food or processed foods, or adopting any other healthy habit.
Whichever type of long-term health or fitness goal you choose, make sure it follows the SMART criteria so you can stay on track towards achieving it.
One of the best ways to stay accountable and ensure that you reach your long-term fitness goal is to have a support system in place. This could be a friend, family member, or even a personal trainer or nutritionist who can help keep you on track and motivated.
So, what are you waiting for? Set your long-term fitness goal today and start working towards achieving it! Just make sure it’s SMART(ER) so you can be successful.