Kicking off a new exercise routine for the summer? Or maybe you’re looking for some inspiration to keep up with your current fitness aims? Our new writer, Harriet, shares some top tips on how to set performance goals in your health and exercise regime. Read her expert advice below.

Fitness: setting performance goals

I can’t do sport or physical activity unless I have an end goal. I need something to strive for; a purpose to my participation in a particular activity. This notion of energisation and a drive towards something is known as ‘motivation’. Motivation, or lack of it, is what can cause people to cease their healthy habits and their fitness regimes, regressing back to where you started, with no progress having been made.

The trouble with outcome goals

Setting goals is one approach to help you stay motivated. However, setting the right goals is just as important. People often set themselves outcome goals, which can actually contribute towards you stopping your healthy habits and fitness regimes. An outcome goal focuses on the end result, such as, “I want to lose 7 pounds this month” or “I want a stomach that looks like Jessica Ennis’s midriff” or “I want to be the first female at Parkrun this weekend”.

These sorts of goals can do more harm than good. You’re setting a goal that is usually a long-term ambition, or a comparison to another person, and an end result that is often out of your control, however hard you work towards it.

Jessica Ennis

Short term, performance goals

Much more effective are short term performance goals. A performance goal outlines the process taken to achieve that weight loss of 7 pounds, the actions required to achieve washboard abdominals, and setting realistic 1km split times to achieve when running Parkrun on Saturday morning.

Performance goals should be set on the journey towards achieving your outcome goal. This strategy will see you maintain motivation, ticking off those short-term, performance goals, with your long-term, final outcome goal effortlessly being realised.

Exercise performance goals

How to set your goals

Focus on setting short term performance goals. Write them on a piece of paper, put them in your gym bag or purse, tape them on your mirror or stick them to your fridge door. If you achieve your performance goals, you will soon reach your outcome goal without having even focused on it. It goes back to the age-old saying: “It is not the destination, but the journey”.

Performance goals notes

What short term goals will you be setting?

We’d love to hear – share your goals with us @tweetjanes.

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