Long-Term Fitness Goals Examples – Introduction
What are some significant long-term fitness goals, and how do you set them up for success?
The hardest part about maintaining a long-term fitness program is staying motivated.
When you first start exercising, whether it’s cardio, strength training, or any other kind of workout, your initial enthusiasm is powered mainly by doing something new.
Going to the gym or heading out for a run is a novelty – something that you probably look forward to.
That enthusiasm is rewarded by rapid and measurable progress.
Because you’re new to exercise, your body adapts quickly to your workouts, and you’ll see your body change almost weekly.
However, after a few months, your progress will start to slow down, and your workouts may begin to lose some of their appeal.
This causes a drop in motivation, making it harder to drag yourself to the gym.
Changing your workout will help, but even so, your determination to continue exercising can fall into decline until you start missing workouts or give up entirely.
Thankfully, there is a way to stay motivated and avoid becoming an ex-exerciser – goal setting.
Goals are targets that give your training a sense of purpose and provide a solid reason to maintain your healthy diet.
Your objectives can be short-term fitness goals, achievable in less than a couple of months, but long-term goals are arguably more practical for year-round workout adherence.
This article explains how to set long-term fitness goals and provides you with five examples.
Goal Setting – Get SMARTER
A goal can be something as simple as saying – I want to get:
And while each of those goals is very applaudable and worthwhile, they’re not exactly motivating.
What does get stronger mean?
How will you know you’re fitter?
How much weight do you want to lose?
They’re all remarkably vague goals!
To make goals more meaningful, fitness experts use something called SMART goals.
Smart goals are more structured and precise, making them more powerful and motivating.
It’s not just the fitness world that uses SMART goals; they’re common in business too.
You can apply the SMART goal model to almost every aspect of your life.
SMART stands for:
Getting fit, losing weight, and getting stronger are general rather than specific goals.
For example, instead of saying that you want to get fit, a more specific goal would be to be healthy enough to run 10km (6.2 miles) in under 50 minutes.
You need to put a numeric value to your goal.
For example, it could be a weight you want to squat or deadlift for strength.
Or it could be your target weight or body fat percentage for weight loss.
Once you have this number in mind, you can now measure your progress, which is also very motivating.
Be sensible when setting your goals.
For example, if you are currently a non-exerciser, it would be a mistake to set a goal of running a marathon in under three hours.
Instead, consider your current fitness level, the resources and time you have available, and your potential.
Create attainable goals that are challenging but realistic.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. It’s always better to aim a little low and crush your goals than aim too high, so your goal ends up crushing you.
If your goal never leaves the confines of your mind, it won’t have much power.
It’s only a wish!
But, if you take a moment to write it down, it becomes real and far more compelling.
So, once you’ve decided on your goal, put pen to paper and write it down.
Then put it somewhere you see it often, like your training diary or fitness journal, so it’s a constant reminder of what you’re working towards.
Procrastination is the enemy of motivation.
Having a goal is great, but your actions will lack urgency if you have no end date in mind.
Missed workouts or cheat meals won’t matter because you aren’t worried about achieving your goals within a specified time frame.
“I’ll do it tomorrow” will become your mantra, and that’s not the best way to make progress.
Instead, create a deadline for your goal.
As this is a long-term goal, you can give yourself six, nine, or even 12-months to reach it.
However, if your goal is a long way off, feel free to set a few intermediate goals you can knock off along the way, for example:
- 4 months – deadlift 1 x bodyweight (short-term)
- 8 months – deadlift 1.5 x bodyweight (intermediate-term)
- 12 months – deadlift 2 x bodyweight (long-term)
Some people add an extra couple of letters to SMART to make SMARTER goals.
These additional letters can be very useful!
Consider using SMARTER to make your goals even more powerful…
Your motivation will soon wear off if you don’t enjoy the process of achieving your goals.
If you HATE running, don’t make running a marathon your goal.
Instead, choose something you will enjoy achieving, and that means something to you.
Do you have, or can you get, everything you need to achieve your goals?
Resources you may need include:
- Time – for training and meal prep
- Equipment – access to a gym or home exercise equipment
- Support – a training buddy, family, friends, and coaching
- Necessary skills – do you know how to achieve your goal?
- Finances – funds for training facilities, healthy food, and fitness gear
What Are Some SMART Fitness Goals
Here’s an example of SMARTER for an exerciser who’s been working out for a year and wants to give their training more focus:
- Specific – run a half marathon (13.1 miles) in under two hours
- Measurable – yes; it’s a distance and time
- Achievable – yes, I can currently run 10km without stopping in 55 minutes
- Recorded – you’re reading it!
- Time-bound – there is a local half marathon race in nine months
- Enjoyable – yes; I love running and find that it’s a great way to release stress
- Resources – I have good running shoes, some pleasant routes to run, a GPS watch to measure distance, can prepare and cook healthy foods, and have contacted my local running club for support
And here’s another example for someone who’s been lifting weights for a year or more:
- Specific – hit a double bodyweight deadlift
- Measurable – yes; I weigh 180 lbs. so I need to lift 360 lbs./162.5kg
- Achievable – yes, I can currently lift 280 lbs. and there’s room for improvement
- Recorded – yes, I’m posting this on Facebook to make it “real”
- Time-bound – I’m giving myself nine months to achieve this goal
- Enjoyable – yes, I love strength training, especially the deadlift
- Resources – I am a member of a well-equipped gym, have a knowledgeable training partner, have time to train 3-4 times each week, and my deadlift form is already pretty good
5 Long-Term Fitness Goal Examples
The best goals come from within – internal goals.
These are goals you set yourself.
Internal goals tend to be the most motivating because they mean something to the person trying to achieve them.
That said, if you are new to the concept of goal setting, you may find the following examples helpful for pointing you in the right direction.
Don’t feel you have to try and achieve these exact goals, although you can if you wish.
Otherwise, treat them as motivators for creating your own goals, or modify them to suit your own needs.
#1. 300-pound bench press, 400-pound squat, 500-pound deadlift
If you are interested in powerlifting but don’t want to enter a competition, why not work toward achieving these weightlifting standards?
They’re impressive lifts but should be within reach of most natural male lifters.
To clarify, we’re talking about achieving a one-repetition maximum (1-RM) for the big three:
- Bench press – 300 lbs.
- Squat – 400 lbs.
- Deadlift – 500 lbs.
You can adjust these figures up or down to reflect your current strength and experience level.
See One Great Beginner Powerlifting Program for Fitness and Strength for a complete powerlifting workout.
#2. Run a marathon
Running a 26.2-mile marathon is a significant fitness goal.
However, it’s also one that huge numbers of people have achieved.
As such, it’s a pretty realistic goal.
You can train for a marathon running just 3-4 times per week, with your longest workout done at the weekend.
Therefore, it’s quite a practical goal, too!
- Tuesday – 8 miles
- Thursday – 10 miles
- Friday – 5 miles
- Sunday – 12 miles (increasing by one mile every 1-2 weeks)
#3. Get a six-pack
A lot of exercisers dream of having a six-pack.
Make that dream a reality by training specifically for this goal.
However, to make it a SMART goal, focus less on aesthetics and more on what you can actually measure – your body fat percentage.
Most men need to reach 10-percent body fat to reveal their six-pack abs, while women need to hit 15-percent.
Men tend to store more fat around their abdomens, so they need to reach a lower overall percentage to unveil their abs.
Getting a six-pack invariably means combining an appropriate diet and strength training plan and using cardio to shed any stubborn fat.
You won’t make such good progress if any of these elements are missing.
#4. Hike a long-distance trail
Long-distance hikes are very rewarding.
However, walking 20-30 miles a day for a week or more while carrying all you need to survive can also be very challenging.
You’ll need to be fit and strong to do it.
So, for this goal, your workouts should provide you with the physical capacity to walk long distances while carrying your backpack, even if you don’t do a lot of hiking leading up to your goal deadline.
In terms of preparation, you’ll need to plan your route or pick one from the ever-growing list of long-distance hiking trails.
You’ll also need to source all the necessary equipment, including a tent, rucksack, boots, camp stove, sleeping bag, etc.
In addition to your workouts, try to get out and walk whenever you can, including longer walks at weekends.
This is an excellent goal for couples and even families.
#5. Learn a new sport
Learning a new sport takes time, which is why it’s a great long-term goal.
Pick something you have never done before that’s always interested you or rekindle an interest in a sport you used to play when you were younger.
Join a group or club and put yourself in the hands of a coach or personal trainer.
In your own time, work on the fitness and skills you’ll need to become a better player.
As you gain proficiency, you’ll be able to transition from trainee to bonafide competitor.
There are hundreds of sports to choose from, and examples include:
- Alpine Skiing aka Downhill Skiing
- Arm wrestling
- Horse riding
- Martial arts/MMA
- Track and field
- Weightlifting aka Olympic weightlifting
Long-Term Fitness Goals – Wrapping Up
The key to becoming a life-long exerciser is motivation.
Some people are self-motivated and have no problem working out regularly.
For them, the process is rewarding enough, and they don’t need an end goal to work toward.
Other people are more motivated by outcomes and need something specific to train for.
If you are already a habitual exerciser who rarely misses workouts or cheats on your diet, you probably don’t need to set goals.
Just keep on doing what you’re doing!
But, if your motivation levels tend to rise and fall like the tide, having SMART goals could help you stay on course and make sticking to your workout plan much easier.
Use the SMARTER model to create your own goals or use our examples to get you started.
Either way, having long-term fitness goals could be just what you need to make working out a habit that you cannot break.
If you’re an absolute beginner in fitness, the first step is to check out the Top 10 Common Fitness Goals for Beginners + How to Achieve Them!
SMART Goals Infographic
SMART Long-Term Fitness Goals Infographic