It is widely agreed throughout society that performance outcomes in education through to workplace can be enhanced by well structured goal setting. This has been an area of investigation for centuries and great advancements have been made in the last few decades, specifically in the sporting arena. Two most prominent figures that have carried out research in this area are Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham. They have enhanced the practical usefulness of goal setting by the development of their SMART goal setting theory. This can specifically be linked to many aspects of your life but for the purpose of this article we will focus specifically on exercise training as used during our fitness Boot Camp.
S.M.A.R.T stands for the five main areas that require focus when developing a specific goal linked to your training:
Specific: Your training goal should have specificity in direction. It is no good saying to yourself that you are going to run and leave it at that. You may have specified what type of exercise you intend to carry out but you have not clearly identified how far, or how quickly, you intend on completing that distance.
Measurable: You need to decide what distance we want to complete the run in. This is dependant on your age, gender, current ability and amount of time you wish to devote to achieving your goal. We will discuss this further when we get to R.
Agreed: Not only do you need to be in total agreement with the goals that you have set, you also need to be sure that you believe that they are suitable and achievable.
Realistic: I recently read an article where the author described goals being similar to an elastic band, ie your goal needs to stretch your ability but not break you physically or mentally. With this in mind, if you are between 17 â€“ 28 years old and already have a personal best (PB) then there is no reason for you not wanting to set a new PB. If, however, you ran a 10 km race when you were a teenager, competing at county level and you set a PB of 39.33 minutes but have not ran for 30 years since, the chances are that you will never achieve that sort of time in the next three months. This can be decided after the first month of training if you are getting into running for the first time, or have not trained for a while.
Timed: This is multi faceted in that your goal needs to have specific time line parameters as to when you intend on starting your training, how long it is before you expect to achieve your goal and, as mentioned before, the more specific time restraints you have put on your goal, such as performance time.
These are the five main components that require attention when setting your training goals, although these are not exhaustive. There have been several other elements to goal setting that sport coaches and psychologists have highlighted. It is important to adopt a series of goals that are not only outcome goals, like suggested above, but also process and performance goals.Â Process goals focus on the technique and could include breathing or gait for running.Â Performance goals are similar to outcome goals but are cut down into smaller manageable chunks like completing a 12 x hill reps in a session or to beat your previous 1.5 mile best effort.
Gould et al suggested a staircase strategy where the bottom step represents your current ability and the top step represents your outcome goal. The series of steps inbetween represent a series of goals you have set that are progressively taking you from your current ability to your outcome goal. Other advice that has been offered to enhance the effectiveness of your goals includes writing them down and continually monitoring and evaluating them.
As you can see from the title, the purpose of this article is to get the most out of your training sessions and this is where it all comes together. Whenever you start a training session, whether it be a spin class, weight training session, swim or run, you need to maintain your focus on your set goals and give every inch of effort in that training session. You will find that you begin to drive yourself harder as you have a reason for training with measurable outcomes determined by the amount of effort expelled.
I hope this has been helpful and you can receive you first weekly training plan by simply joining our mailing list!