It’s hard to know how high or low to set your goals when it comes to working out. Set them too high, and you’ll find yourself constantly feeling defeated; set them too low and you won’t really challenge yourself.

I think creating realistic fitness goals requires you to ask a few questions.

1. What are my needs?

Is there a particular part of your body you feel needs strengthening? Or do you need to improve your overall fitness? Do you need to lose weight? Understanding what you need is going to dictate what kind of goals you set, and inform the way you train. It’s a key first step.

2. How much time do I have?

Close up image of young woman checking the time on smartwatch device after jog, outdoors.

Next up, it’s time to think about your schedule. What does a normal week look like? If you already have a pretty packed schedule, that’s going to have a huge impact on how much you’re able to do and the kind of exercise you do. Take a look at where free time is in your schedule, and if you’re short on free time, consider looking at which things you could do a little less so that there’s time for working out.

You also need to figure out a time period in which you are giving yourself to see your goals met? When do you want to see results? In a month? In 6 months? In a year? Give yourself a realistic timeframe in which to get everything done.

3. How much can I do in the time I have?

Once you have an idea of how many sessions you can fit into a week, you’re able to start figuring out what kind of sessions those should be. Moderate exercise 5-7 times a week will only work for you if you have time to add 5-7 sessions a week, and if that’s not something you’re able to do, then it might be better to opt for 3-4 sessions of high intensity exercise instead.

4. How will I measure success?

This is the final thing that is necessary before you set your goals. How will you know that you’ve met them? I recommend two types of goal: a physical goal and a number goal. If you’re trying to lose weight, a number goal is incredibly helpful as it’s a very concrete way of seeing you’ve moved forward. A number goal can be a number on a scale, a clothing size, or simply your body measurements. A physical goal is great if you’re pushing yourself to grow in strength or fitness. It can be something like managing a full pull up, running 5 miles, or managing to climb the stairs without finding it hard to breathe or breaking out into a sweat. Whatever it is, it’s going to be something that you’ll know for sure when you’ve made it.

Okay, one last tip

When you do reach those fitness goals, and don’t worry, you will, don’t forget to set new ones. Keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself a little further each time, your body will only be better for it!

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams