In my last article I mentioned that Arnold Schwarzenegger said that it doesn’t matter how good your ship is, if you have no destination you end up going round in circles. Essentially what he meant was that your goals in life need to have a date to achieve it by. Another famous name in the bodybuilding industry is Mike O’hearn who tells people to train smarter not harder. What he means by this is to train according to your goals and own genetic make up.

I would like to talk about my own take on this and explain SMART goals. I first came across this when I was at university and it stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed.

Specific: Set out what you intend to achieve from your fitness plan. One of the things that annoyed me the most when I was working as a fitness instructor would be a customer saying there goal is to get fitter. This is too vague as they have not given me a base level to work from. My job was always made easier when a customer would answer my question with something like,  to complete the Great North Run in 2018.

Measurable: If somebody came to me today for a training plan and they did say that they wanted to complete the Great North Run in 2018, that gives the two of us a year to get them ready. They have an end date. If the individual is currently able to run a maximum of five miles I now have something to measure their progress against.

Agreed: During the initial consultation I would be talking with the customer to set out short term goals to help them get ready for completing the Great North Run. This could be something simple such as two shorter distances of running three miles a week to work on speed, then one longer distance a week of first five miles then six miles in four weeks time. The longer distance would gradually increase by a mile every four weeks until the individual is closer to the thirteen mile event distance.

Realistic: Whatever your goal is it must be realistic. Twelve months is a realistic time frame to get somebody fit enough to complete a half marathon, even if they have not exercised for ten years and live off of take away dinners. Twelve weeks would not be a realistic time frame.

Timed: This is what Arnold Schwarzenegger meant by needing a final destination. Staying with the theme of the Great North Run, the race takes place every September. If somebody decides today that they want to take part in next years event then they would have twelve months to get ready for it.

SMART goals do not need to be reserved for fitness goals. You can use the same principles in your professional life. Lets say that you have started working as chef. If you have just qualified you will not be the Head Chef or even own the restaurant in a month. A SMART goal would be to become Head chef in three years.

He may not have been aware of it but when ever I watch interviews of Arnold Schwarzenegger and he talks about his life in bodybuilding, acting and politics it is clear that he has followed the SMART principles.


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