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Specific, Measured, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound. This is a classic framework for goal setting. Here is how I define SMART as it relates to fitness goals. 

I get to create the definitions as I see them working. Some people will tell you different letters are for different things: R is for realistic, A is for achievable or assignable, T is for timely. Below are the definitions that work for me. They serve as good criteria for fitness goals.


The S is all about getting clear on all of the details. Make your goal as specific as possible. If your goal is about running 10km, what is time amount of time you want to complete it in? Are you running the full 10km or is it a run/walk? Do you want to be pain free at the finish line? Make your goal very specific. For example “I want to run a 10km run in under 1 hour, running the entire time without any pain in my knees”. This is the time to focus one exactly “what” you want. The more precise you are the better.


skin fold caliper for measuring body fat percentageThe M is a question you can ask yourself. Can this goal be measured? How do I know that I am 50% of the way to achieving it? How do I know when I have accomplished it. Weight loss is a classic example of this. See my post on how to measure weight loss. Measuring your progress regularly is a great way to stay on track.


This is simple. Can you do it? Is this realistic? If you don’t believe that you are able to achieve a goal, you are working against yourself. See my post on why an “emotional connection” is a great goal achievement strategy. Make your goal attainable. Instead of saying “I want to lose 100 lbs this year”, try something more attainable like “I want to lose 8 lbs this month”. It is a lot easier to see yourself losing 8 lbs and believing you can do it. Set your self up to succeed.


R is for Relevant, at least in my books. Is your goal related to your bigger picture vision. Here is where you get to ask yourself if this goal is even worth pursuing? How does your very specific short term goal relate to what you truly want? If it doesn’t relate, then it isn’t a good goal to go for. For example, if what you truly want in your life is to be healthy and have more energy, a goal related to fitness performance like running 10km in less than 40 minutes is not relevant to your big picture vision.

Time bound

People love deadlines. Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t. Okay, maybe we don’t love them but man do they ever work for us. Set some timelines around your goals. I a a big believer in short term goals, 3 months at the longest. It is good to have a long term vision. However, when it comes to SMART goals, I like them to be very short term. Also, it is good to check in on your measurements at the half way points. When do I want to accomplish this goal by? When will I be 50% of the way to accomplishing it?


This is a little different than the classic business SMART goals, I know. This is how I see them working for people in the fitness industry. Want some examples of SMART goals? Check out this subsequent post 10 examples of SMART goals.

I would love to hear from you if you have something to add. What has been working for you? Or, what are you struggling with?

core strength plank with Kinesiologist and personal trainer alyssa

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