A very important yet easily overlooked piece of the fitness puzzle is the setting of goals. There is a widely accepted mnemonic device used for the criteria of effective goals called the SMART plan. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Looking at your goals with SMART in mind will help you set and reach your goals more efficiently and effectively.
Be specific. “I want to get in shape”, “I want to be a better lifter”, these are both bad examples of specific goals because they are broad and unspecific. Good examples would be,”I want to be able to do 25 pull ups in row”, or “I want to dead lift 403 pounds”. These examples are specific and clear towards what you want. You either do 25 pull ups or you don’t. As opposed to “being more fit” which is really impossible to measure, you would have to define “fit” in a more specific way to actually get there.
Measurable is very similar to specific in that you want to set a goal that you can actually measure. Think of, “how much do I want to snatch?”, “how fast do I want to run a 400m sprint?”. Before you set a goal just ask yourself,”How will I know when achieve what I want?” If you walk into the gym with a vague idea of fitness and no direction it is much harder to know when you hit a milestone. You should have a clear idea in your head of exactly what you want out of each lift/movement/etc. And if you dont, ask your coach, we are here to help guide you towards what you need.
Attainable means that you should choose goals that are actually attainable to YOU. I (Joe) will never look like Matt Booth ( a strapping 215 lb wall of muscle), I will never be able to dead lift 800 lbs. So these goals would be completely unattainable for me, just by the limits of my genetics and body size. So you need to look at things realistically , and with your life in perspective. A deadlift of 400lbs is much more realistic and very attainable for someone like me. Not to say it will be easy to get there, but it is something that I could reach if I worked towards it.
Relevant speaks to making goals that actually make sense for you and your situation. If you want to run the Boston marathon and finish in 1st place, it is not relevant to have a goal of 50 strict muscle ups, or a 350 lb clean and jerk. Training seriously for those two things would eventually counteract your marathon game. So choose goals that make sense and matter to you. Getting stronger and faster with Crossfit will surely help your marathon game but training like a power lifter will not. If I want to compete in Crossfit then I need to have small goals all across the fitness spectrum to be well balanced, it all just depends on what you want.
Last, your goals should be timely. Meaning that they should have a time-frame associated with them. When do you want or need to have this goal completed by? This gives you another level of accountability, and a deadline. Especially within the fitness world, shorter-term goals are best. Everything must be taken in baby steps to decrease risk of injury and over-training, and it helps mentally if they are in shorter time frames. It is quite daunting to say I have a 5 year goal of dead lifting 550 lbs. But if i say I want 405 lbs by December (20lb pr) that is much more doable and will surely not unbalance my training.
Keep the SMART idea in mind when thinking about your goals. It will help you be more effective and efficient with goal setting. We are here to help you, talk to us if you have any questions. Most people will come into Crossfit with vague goals, myself included. We can help you figure out what is relevant and how to get there. All you have to do is ask 🙂