how to set personal goals

The best way to ensure progress in the iron game is to set personal goals that you want to achieve.

Many folks have great intentions when they set personal goals.

But knowing how to set personal goals and then actually achieve them requires more than just good intentions.

The Main Problem

While setting goals is a great thing, the problem with the majority of the goals that people set is that they are just general goals.

For example, if your goal was to “get stronger” you can literally reach your goal of getting stronger in just one workout.

If you squatted 135lbs for 5 x 5 during your first workout and then the next week you squatted 140lbs for 5 x 5, you are technically a little stronger.

But are you really stronger, at least how you would probably envision what being stronger looks like, after just one workout?  Of course not!

This is why general goals hold no real weight when it comes to making true progress.

No Accountability = No Achievement

General goals do not create any accountability.

Being a lifter or an athlete who has general goals is better than being a no goal loser.  But general goals have a high chance of never being achieved because there is no accountability attached to the goal.

What I have found works much better for actually reaching your goals is to set specific, personal goals.

When your goal hinges on a certain performance or numbers, it carries more weight.  This means that you will be more motivated to actually hit the goal.

When I returned to the masters’ track game for 1 meet in 2015, I only had the general goal of running the 100 meters.  I finished the race, but my time was not good, and I got smoked!

In 2016, I had the specific goals of getting into the 11.5-11.6s range in the 100m and also breaking 24s in the 200m.  I fought very hard, but I was unable to accomplish those goals in 2016.

But during the 2017 summer track season, I smashed both of those goals as I ran 11.57 in the 100m dash and 23.78 in the 200m dash at age 33.

Without having specific numbers to aim for, I would not have been able to create the urgency or drive to run those times.

You Have To Be Specific

Let’s look at some general goals and how they can be changed to specific goals:

General Goals:

1) “I want to get stronger.”
2) “I want to get leaner.”
3) “I want to get faster.”
4) “I want to build muscle.”
5) “I want to build bigger legs.”

Specific Goals:

1) “I want to bench press 225lbs, deadlift 405lbs, and squat 275lbs.”
2) “I want to lose 10lbs of body fat.”
3) “I want to drop my 40-yard dash time from 4.8 to 4.6.”
4) “I want to add 10lbs of muscle mass to my frame.”
5) “I want to build 23-inch quads and be 36 inches around my hips.”

Look at how the narrative instantly changes!

When the goal you set is specific it gives your end goal a clear frame of reference.  This is how you set goals and actually achieve them.

“Getting leaner” is a bit hollow and does not hold as much weight as “I want to lose 10lbs of body fat.”

Setting specific goals also gives the process legs.  When personal goals are specific, it forces you to be accountable if you are unable to reach them.

If you fail to reach a goal, it should also inspire you to work harder in order to reach it.

Losers will fail once and quit forever.  But anybody who is truly serious about unleashing their inner greatness cannot be satisfied with falling short.

If you are a skinny scarecrow, as I once was, don’t settle for the fake hustle “I want to get bigger” goal.

Set a specific amount of muscle mass that you want to build and then focus on doing everything you can to add that muscle to your frame.  This is how you set goals and actually achieve them.

If you are fat and flabby, don’t settle for the token “I want to lose weight” goal.

Set a specific goal to lose a certain amount of body fat and then focus on doing everything that you c to drop that fat.  This is how you set goals and actually achieve them.

If you are weak and frail, don’t settle for the overused “I want to get stronger” goal.  Choose a few basic exercises and set some specific numbers to hit on those exercises.

This is how you set personal goals and actually achieve them!

He Was Specific And He Succeeded

I’ll leave you with a story about a guy I know.

For years this guy had a vision of opening a performance training gym that catered to athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts.

Every year this guy would say “I’m going to open a gym.”  Everyone who knew this guy knew about his dream of opening a gym.

The problem was that there was nothing specific or concrete about this so-called plan.  It was just a hollow, general goal.

He couldn’t tell you where the gym was going to be located or the name of it, but he kept saying, “I’m going to open a gym.”

8 years passed, and the gym was not open.

But halfway through that eighth year something changed.  He actually set a date to open the gym in the fall of 2016 and began to aggressively look for a location.

He secured a location within one month after his specific goal was set.

After securing the location, he and his team spent the next few months building up the interior of the gym with real training tools.  The gym was officially opened up in the first week of 2017.

That guy was me and that gym is The Center.  When I set a specific goal is when the cot dang job got done.


After you finish this article, leave a comment below and list 1 or 2 specific goals that you want to accomplish with regard to your physique or performance.

From this point on, you will put your energy into reaching them.

In order to maximize your chances of reaching a goal, make sure what you are aiming for is specific or your goal will be swept up into the dustbins of oblivion.

I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,

Previous Post
How Often And How Much Should You Work Out?
Next Post
How To Do Back Extensions For Glutes
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Get Your Copy Today!


Join The Fit Team for the truth about objective, athletic performance training.  Download your free copy of “The Top Ten Benefits Of Lifting Weights” after you sign up.  I’d be honored to have your support for my newsletter.

the top 10 benefits of lifting weights