Realistic Fitness Goals
As the New Year begins, millions of people create the goal, “I want to lose all the weight this year”. In my opinion, weight loss goals are surprisingly ineffective for sustaining exercise motivation over the long run. The objective of getting lean isn't such a bad idea either.
Instead consider performance goals, which may help you stay more motivated to exercise not just this year, but for the rest of your life. Getting leaner and stronger is a byproduct of achieving performance goals.
Creating performance goals also helps shift the focus from the outcome to the process. You approach exercise as a skill that you develop over time. Working out for the sake of working out gets boring for everyone.
That’s why I'm suggesting these realistic fitness goals below that are based on improving your performance and to help you stay more motivated to exercise. Many of these fitness goals can be very difficult, so you can start from a regressed level of them. I personally have several of these goals set sequentially so that as I achieve one, I have another to strive for.
I hope you give one, or more a try this year:
10 Unassisted Pull-Ups
A pull-up is an excellent marker of upper body pulling strength, especially in relation to your own bodyweight. Completing 10 perfect pull-up reps from a dead hang to chin-over-the-bar is a worthwhile goal. Losing body fat certainly helps make this goal easier. If you can already do 10 pull-ups, consider 15, or 20 pull-ups, or adding weight such as a weighted vest for a specified number of reps. Ladies who are not able to do any pull-ups can consider 1, 3 or 5 pull-ups.
A muscle-up is an advanced pull-up exercise where you forcibly pull your entire torso above the bar then push up your body so that your body hangs straight toward the ground supported by your arms. The exercise requires substantial pulling strength and core stability. If you can already do a muscle-up, try aiming for 10 in a row.
The push-up has been used for centuries as a test of upper body pushing strength and core stability. Working up to 50 push-ups with perfect military-style form (hands slightly wider than shoulder-width) requires both strength and muscular endurance. The leaner you get by losing excess body fat, the easier this goal becomes. Aim for perfect form so that your head, neck, torso, hips, and legs form one solid line while only your arms move. Ladies can aim for 10 perfect reps, military-style.
If you want to take your push-up strength to the next level, the one-arm push-up is an excellent exercise to consider. The one-arm push-up demands significant muscle tension only using your body weight, so be careful as you practice and be sure to warm up and properly progress. An advanced variation of a 1 arm push-up is to lift your opposite back leg, which is called a One Arm One Leg push-up. It’s really tough!
Touch The Rim
Being able to jump high enough to touch the rim of a basketball hoop requires explosive hip strength and power. While it’s not an easy goal if you weren’t born with great jumping ability, getting leaner (losing body fat without losing muscle) can help immensely. Improving your hip strength and power combined with jumping practice can help you achieve this athletic feat while getting in great shape in the process.
Run a 5K
If you loved running in the past but have since fallen out of your routine, a 5-kilometre run may help you get back on track and find your love of running again. Most metropolitan areas should have 5k races on a regular basis as they are very popular to help raise money for non-profit organizations.
Do A Spartan Race
The Spartan Race is an obstacle course race that has risen dramatically in popularity in recent years. The Spartan Sprint is 3.1 miles with around 20 obstacles that range from spear throwing to climbing walls. Spartan Races can be a lot of fun and a great way to help inspire you to get in better shape. You can also do it with friends, which makes preparation and the actual race even more fun. Here’s a link to some Spartan Sprint Training tips to get you started and you can view and sign up for upcoming races on the Spartan Website.
500 Meter Row Under 2:00 Minutes
Most gyms have a stationary rowing machine, which can offer you a quick and simple fitness test by rowing 500 meters as fast as you can. Completing 500 meters under 2 minutes for men, or 2:30 for ladies is a great fitness test to improve your aerobic capacity.
50 Double Unders in A Row
Double Unders are a challenging jump rope exercise that requires you to spin the jump rope around your body 2x for every one jump. Even if you can’t do one double under right now, I think 50 in a row is a realistic goal to accomplish in a year. And you’ll be in very solid shape when you work up to 50 double unders in a row.
1/3 Bodyweight Turkish Get Up
The T.G.U mimics how we first learned to move (rolling, kneeling, standing) and helps create excellent body control and full-body strength because you must use your body as one piece. Get a certified kettlebell instructor to walk you through the exercise as it is technical, but that’s part of the fun of learning it as you become more proficient. Eventually, you can work up to completing a rep on both sides (right and left hands) with a 1/3 of your body weight, and even 1/2 of your body weight as a strength feat.
5-Minute Kettlebell Snatch Test
Kettlebell snatches require a lot of technique practise, an iron grip, hip strength and power, along with excellent cardiovascular endurance. While a “snatch-sized” kettlebell is very heavy for the average gym-goer, you can choose a lighter bell with which to practice and test, then work your way up. I recommend men target towards 24kg and women 16kg.
10 Kettlebell Swings With The Beast
The “Beast” is a 48kg kettlebell that looks like a draconian medieval weapon. A proper kettlebell swing stimulates every muscle in your body, with an emphasis on core strength, hip power, and grip strength. Start with lighter kettlebells to get the form down and slowly work your way up to the Beast. By the time you are able to comfortably swing it for 10 repetitions, you will be strong. Ladies may consider a 24kg or 32kg goal weight.
A 10-second handstand may seem far-fetched, but it’s within your reach with practice. Becoming proficient at handstands offers numerous benefits including improved shoulder mobility and stability (you will likely have to work on your shoulder mobility just to get into a proper handstand position), body control and awareness, along with full-body strength and tension.
25-Meter Walking Handstand
If you can do a handstand already, or want to take your handstand practice to the next level, you can try different hand balancing exercises. One popular exercise is the walking handstand, which requires significant upper body strength along with core control and balance. See if you can work up to 25 meters without stopping or falling over.
60-Second Double Arm Hang
Human beings are designed with the ability to brachiate, which means hand swing. Think about how children can swing across monkey bars with ease. The ability to hang for over 60 seconds on a bar will vastly improve your grip strength and may help you improve your shoulder mobility and stability. Losing body fat without losing muscle will certainly help you achieve this goal faster.
15-Second Single Arm Hang
Hanging on to a bar with one arm is surprisingly difficult. When I first tried, I could barely hold myself up for 5 seconds (thumb under the bar grip) despite being able to do weighted pull-ups with 20 kilograms for reps. I recommend first working up to at least a 60-second double-arm hang before moving on to a single-arm hang, which requires substantial grip strength and endurance, along with shoulder strength and stability.
Touch Your Hands Behind Your Back
Reach your right hand behind your head and your left hand behind your back. Can you get your hands to touch? Being able to touch your hands behind your backtests your shoulder and thoracic spine mobility, along with your scapular rhythm (coordination of your scapula and humerus). This is tough, but a great goal for most guys who have tight shoulders and poor mobility in the upper thoracic and scapula. Ladies usually can perform better on the test, but it’s an equally great test for ladies.
1.5x Bodyweight Barbell Bench Press
While I used to be the biggest fan of 1 rep max lifts, I think with proper workout progressions, form practice, and solid a warm-up routine, the risk posed by an occasional max lifting session can be reduced significantly. Being able to press 1.5x your body weight is a very achievable feat of strength. While the barbell bench press can put significant stress on your shoulders if an improper form is used, it is a very effective upper body strength and mass builder.
2x Bodyweight Deadlift
The deadlift is a classic full-body strength training exercise that tests your ability to lift a heavy weight off the ground. While the deadlift can be an effective strength builder, it can also be a dangerous exercise. In order to do a deadlift properly, you will need to practice form with lighter weights and achieve an adequate hip, hamstring, and upper back flexibility. Without enough flexibility, your lower back will round, which makes the deadlift into a lower back killer instead of a lower back strengthener. A 2x bodyweight deadlift is a solid feat of strength. I strongly recommend working with a knowledgeable personal trainer before attempting this fitness goal.
Bodyweight Barbell Back Squat For 10 Reps
Another classic strength exercise – the barbell back squat – is considered by many strength coaches as the king of all strength exercises and when combined with ample calorie and protein intake, an unequalled muscle builder. Keep in mind most people who are squatting should not be squatting because they lack the mobility to do it safely. Again, I strongly recommend working with a knowledgeable personal trainer before attempting this fitness goal.
Hold a Deep Squat For 60 Seconds
While we all could hold a deep squat easily when we were 3 years old, the advent of sitting on chairs has robbed many of us of our innate ability to squat, which is technically a resting position. I almost lost the ability to squat, mostly as a result of sciatic nerve impingement, but have since regained it after a lot of foam rolling, stretching and the allied health practitioner meetings.
Pistol Squat With Both Legs
A pistol squat is a calisthenic exercise where you squat down and up using just one leg while the other leg is extended straight in front of you. This exercise requires great ankle and hip flexibility, along with leg strength and core balance. It takes time and practice to progress. Eventually, you can work up to 1/3 bodyweight pistol squat, where you hold a weight at your chest such as a 20kg kettlebell.
10 Minutes of Exercise Every Morning For 30 Days
Daily exercise is ideal, whether you are doing some yoga, push-ups, jogging, or really any type of physical activity that challenges your body. Given how much the average person sits each day, daily exercise becomes even more important. Consider creating a simple 10-minute morning routine of exercises like push-ups, bodyweight squats, and dynamic stretches. It can be a game-changer for you if you have trouble with consistency, or only workout a couple of times per week. My bet is you will notice results in just a few days as your strength, energy, and flexibility improve.
60 Minutes Of Yoga Every Day For 30 Days
I haven't even begun to fully appreciate the benefits of yoga. I am only learning and practising, but I believe it’s an exceptional exercise method to help you feel younger, more relaxed, and improve your mobility, body control, and balance. If you feel stiff all the time and stressed, Yoga may change your life completely, if you give it an honest try. If 60 minutes of yoga sounds like too much, try 15, or 30 minutes a day for 30 days.
What are your fitness goals this year?
Are there any on this list that you want to try?
Want help to achieve your goals for 2019? Contact The Discipline Fitness Coach, today!