Setting goals and hitting them

At Physio Central we treat a wide range of people all with very different challenges and objectives. For some it’s about training for serious endurance events, others their first marathon. At the other end of the scale we’ve helped people get back on their feet after surgery and back to work after serious back pain.

Everyone has a ‘goal’ in mind that they’re looking for our help with, whether that’s a new PB or simply being able to go for a short walk without discomfort.

Over the years we’ve picked up plenty of advice on how to set and then reach goals, so in this blog we thought we’d share our advice.

SMART

While different approaches work for different people, in our experience the SMART approach is one we see the most success with.

This stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed (or variations of).

  • Specific

Goals need to be tangible and have a clear target – so ‘lose weight’ or ‘run faster’ aren’t defined and so you’re less likely to stick to it or know when you’ve really achieved them.

  • Measurable

Related to the above – ‘lose weight’ is too vague but lose 2kg isn’t. When it comes to performance then set a target for a new PB and work towards that.

  • Achievable

Goals need to be sensible – I’d love to take part in next year’s Tour de France but a more realistic goal is going to be taking a few minutes from my Richmond Park lap time. A goal should be something you need to work hard at, but not impossible. In instances where overly ambitious goals are set we’ve seen people lose motivation and interest.

  • Realistic

Similar to the above but taking into account all of the variables. So if you’re training for a marathon then how much training can you realistically do each week? If it’s recovering from an injury, how much time can you spend each day doing the relevant strengthening exercises? These should also be realistic for you – not what your friends, other half or colleagues are doing.

  • Timed

This is all about setting yourself a sensible time period. So recovering from surgery or a major injury is going to take time and there’s no sense pretending otherwise. Just as putting in the training required for an event or a new PB, be sensible with the time you’ll need to achieve your goals.

So some good examples of SMART goals would be:

  • I will be able to cycle a full lap of Richmond Park in a clockwise direction in less than 23 minutes by [date]
  • I will run 5km without stopping within 6 months [note date]
  • My bench press 1 RM will be 50kg in 3 months
  • My body fat percentage will be reduced from 20% to 15% in 6 months time
  • I will return to playing football in 9 months time after ACL surgery

Hopefully these are helpful for whatever goals you’re working towards and for advice on specific training or for any other questions just get in touch.

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