It’s a New Year, and you’re highly motivated to work on your health resolutions. But in your excitement to start sculpting the perfect abs, you may be pushing yourself too hard too soon. We show you how to set smart, bite-sized goals that you can start achieving this week.

Achievable fitness goals

You may be amped to start working toward your health resolutions, but you need to start small. Attainable fitness objectives will prevent injury, while your body develops the endurance needed to achieve your main goal. Plus, a minor weekly achievement will boost your motivation and confidence levels. Here’s how to get started.

Step 1. Define your main goal

Whether you aim to run a 10k marathon or lose 10 kilo’s, you need to clearly define what you hope to achieve. Competitive events are a great motivator, especially if you are able to train in groups, but be careful about putting too much stress on your body. You will need time to adjust to your new training regime.

Step 2: Be realistic

Be honest with yourself regarding your existing circumstances and fitness level. If your busy schedule only allows you one evening per week to train, you will need more time to meet your goals. It will take weeks to build the strength and endurance for a marathon. And your training regime needs to fit comfortably within your existing schedule to avoid burnout.

Step 3: Divide your goal into smaller objectives

Divide your main goal into smaller, measurable objectives. For example, if you wish to run a 10km marathon in six months, you should aim to complete 2km after your first month on training. Aim to build your strength and endurance by 5% each week. Do not overcompensate by pushing yourself too hard. Your muscles will need time to rest and recuperate between workouts.

Step 4: Set a deadline

Give yourself a realistic deadline for achieving your main goal. If your goal is to run a marathon, you should allow yourself up to six months to reach it. This means that you should aim to run 500m in the first week, and gradually run a little further each day, until you can complete 2km at the end of the month. This will ensure that you remain motivated long after the “New Year, New You” buzz has waned.

Meet with a personal trainer

A professional personal trainer will help you address problem areas in your diet, your overall lifestyle and recommend a manageable training solution for you. They will also assess and help you manage your expectations and goals. You may not be able to afford to see a personal trainer on a regular basis, but one consultation will help you build a solid foundation for your new fitness plan.

Reward yourself

Losing a few inches or being able to arm-wrestle your guy may be reward enough, but smaller rewards will help you stay motivated and positive about your fitness goals. These will be particular effective during the early periods where you may not see immediate results from your training.

So treat yourself to a mani after your first 500m or to new pair of running shoes after your first 2km. And if you fall off the wagon, take some time off and start again. Building sustainable fitness habits takes time, but the long-term results will be worth it.

What are your fitness goals for 2017? Tell us in the comments box below.

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