Often we think of goals as a big, long term project, and they may be, but as is often the case I want to focus on the details. It’s the day-to-day goals that get us to the end result we’re after. Like the ultimate goal we’re working towards, our daily goals should be SMART.
Say your big goal is to finish in the top 10% of an upcoming competition. It’s specific, easily measurable, relevant to your interests, health and fitness, and there’s time sensitivity. It’s attainability may be debatable as that will depend on the quality and quantity of entrants in the field. However you can take responsibility for the factors within your control and do everything possible to prepare to attain the goal.
Goals for daily training sessions may be quantitative or qualitative in nature. Quantitative goals can be somewhat obvious and very easy to measure. They should be challenging, but attainable. Things like achieving a certain score in a workout, lifting a particular weight, or performing a certain number of unbroken reps. The results are all binary in nature. We either achieve the score, lift the weight, go unbroken, or we don’t. In addition to being performance specific, daily quantitative goals can also include things not directly related to performance that can improve it, such as no mid-workout water or chalk breaks.
Qualitative goals can be a bit trickier. They generally don’t make for the best long term goals in and of themselves. Technical cues to improve movements fall into this category. I use these in my own training much more often than performance goals, limit them to 1 or 2 per movement, and keep them short. For example “chest up” and “straight arms” have worked for me when snatching or cleaning. “Spread the floor” has been helpful for heavy squats and handstand push-ups. Simple single words like “focus” or “concentrate” may also be useful to block out distractions and make the most of a given workout. Write these in your notebook or on your whiteboard to remind yourself throughout the training session.
The best ways to “measure” a qualitative goal is either filming yourself or having the watchful eyes of a coach on a majority of your reps. It is arguable that qualitative goals are also binary. Did we do the thing, or not? Think of them as points of performance rather than standards. Optimal movement patterns will not be developed in a single session, but there may certainly be degrees of improvement. This is the purpose of daily goal setting.
Whether your goal is a forthcoming throwdown, obstacle course race, a certain PR, or to run your first 5k setting small goals each day can help you get the most out of every workout. Please contact me to schedule a goal setting session to see how you can maximize your daily training, or determine if personal coaching or individual programming may be right for you.