Why You Should Establish Fitness Objectives for Yourself
If you desire to refine your fitness regimen but are unsure where to commence, why not attempt setting a fitness objective (or multiple!) for yourself? Establishing a goal to work towards is beneficial for constructing and adhering to new habits, can help keep you on course, and might just inspire you to attain a personal milestone. (Pro tip: Utilizing a goal tracker application can assist you in monitoring your progress in real time.)
Each of the subsequent instances of fitness goals are challenges that concentrate on different aspects of fitness, from stamina to flexibility and power. Once you have mastered one, strive to progress to the next level by incorporating increased intensity, duration, or repetitions. For instance, once you complete a 10K, endeavor to train for a half-marathon.
Peruse the following fitness goal concepts and professional advice on why and how you should proceed with achieving them.
Accomplish 25 Push-ups
Guido Mieth/Getty Images
Keep in mind that any of your fitness goals should be practical for you. Achieving the ability to perform 25 push-ups is a very rational and attainable objective for most women, affirms Timothy L. Miller, M.D., clinical professor of orthopaedics at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Advantages include upper-body strength in the chest (pectorals), shoulder girdle (scapular stabilizers), and triceps. Another benefit? Push-ups necessitate no equipment and can be modified in numerous ways to train different muscle groups (e.g. a narrower grip targets triceps), advises Miller. (
Initiate with modified pushups, resting on your knees instead of on the toes. Maintain a straight back, tense your abdominal muscles, and keep your hips and buttocks lowered. Your chest should come into complete contact with the floor without allowing your midsection to descend onto the floor. Gradually increase the number of repetitions as you build strength until you can raise yourself up on your toes in the conventional pushup form. (Or attempt this 30-day push-up challenge, which will guide you through the process.)
Participate in a 10K (6.2 Miles) Race
Harold Lee Miller/Getty Images
Mastering a 10K race is one of the finest fitness objectives for aspiring runners: The distance is long enough to instill a genuine sense of accomplishment but does not necessitate the same commitment and preparation time as a marathon, says Miller.
The advantages of participating in a training program for a 10-kilometer race are not solely limited to the physical aspects but also extend to the mental aspects,” he elaborates.
In terms of physiological advantages, you’ll enhance your cardiovascular fitness as well as your upper- and lower-body strength. Plus, the frequently disregarded mental and emotional benefits include not only the feeling of accomplishment after completion but also the self-assurance that comes with realizing fitness training goals, says Miller. “These include the bonding and relationships developed through training. Partners supporting, encouraging, and motivating one another is what many runners enjoy the most about training,” he says.
Start gradually, increasing mileage by no more than 10 percent from the previous week, advises Miller. Beginners should select a race about three months down the road and ask others to train with them or look for a running group.
Master 3 Challenging Yoga Poses
Yoga necessitates minimal equipment, provides stretching without stressing the joints, and can enhance stress levels and posture, says Maureen K. Watkins, D.P.T., assistant clinical professor in the physical therapy department at Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.
“Individuals new to yoga should begin slowly, ideally with an experienced instructor who can correct poses and postures to avoid injuries,” says Watkins. ICYDK, many yoga studios offer free classes to new students. Seek out experienced, certified instructors, and after mastering a basic flow, test your skills with balancing poses. Three challenging poses to strive to master? Warrior III, crow, and handstand.
Improve Your Sprinting Abilities
Incorporating sprint training into your running routine has numerous benefits, says Miller. The initial benefit comes simply from the variation in the workout, which prevents boredom. Plus, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) endorses sprinting as an excellent way to tone your leg and glute muscles, and when practiced as intervals, sprinting is classified as high-intensity interval training, aka HIIT (and therefore provides the many benefits of HIIT workouts).
Although it may seem counterintuitive, sprints also optimize long, slow distance runs, says Miller. “Your body needs to know what it feels like to run fast in order for it to perform at that level,” he explains. By adding one or two high-intensity interval sessions to your weekly routine, your body will develop the fast-twitch muscle fibers required for sprinting, as opposed to only the slow-twitch fibers most commonly associated with endurance. “This type of training, however, should be added gradually to prevent overuse injuries,” says Miller. (Try it: How to Add Treadmill Sprint Workouts to Your Running Routine)
Perform a Box Jump
Jump training, also referred to as plyometrics, is an advanced method of training. “Apart from burning fat, plyometric exercises teach you how to swiftly decelerate the body and accelerate in the opposite direction,” states Neal Pire, C.S.C.S., F.A.C.S.M., a certified trainer and author of Plyometrics for Athletes at All Levels. This skill proves useful whether you are sprinting towards the side of the tennis court and swiftly returning to the center, or quickly hopping off a commuter bus and leaping over a puddle onto the sidewalk.
Effective fitness goals always present a challenge, and the box jump is the ultimate plyometric exercise. It effectively builds strength, power, and speed, while also giving you a specific target to aim for. To learn how to execute box jumps, start by incorporating lateral jumps (slalom hops) and speed skaters into your workout routine to engage different planes of motion, suggests Pire. Like box jumps, perform these exercises prior to your workout session and after a thorough warm-up. Complete each exercise for 10 seconds or perform five jumps. (
For a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits of box jumps, click here. Additionally, here is a guide on gradually progressing to performing a box jump (even if it seems intimidating). The great news is, once you master it, you will already have another fitness goal: to jump higher!
Master the Skill of Swimming
Swimming has positive effects on body fat, insulin levels, and overall health, according to Watkins. Scientific evidence supports this claim: A study published in the journal Metabolism in 2010 compared two groups of women – one group walked for exercise, while the other group engaged in swimming at a moderate intensity three times per week for a year. The findings revealed that the women in the swimming group lost more weight, experienced better distribution of body fat, and observed improved insulin levels in the short term.
If you are not naturally skilled at swimming, Watkins suggests exploring your local YMCA center. They offer swimming lessons for adults of all proficiency levels, as well as various aquatic classes such as aquatic cross training, water aerobics, aqua jogging, and even prenatal water classes. “Engaging in group classes can help you stay motivated, have fun, and socialize,” she adds. (Also, make sure to utilize these tips to maximize the benefits of your swimming workout.)
Master a Solo Chin-up — or Five
There’s a rationale why the armed forces utilizes chin-ups in basic training: they’re challenging! “The majority of women cannot execute a single chin-up,” affirms Pire. There exists a rationale for that: A large number of individuals engage in more pushing exercises rather than pulling movements in their everyday activities, which can result in feeble upper-back muscles and contribute to discomfort and aches in the neck. “It can also lead to shoulder frailty, which consequently leads to discomfort and malfunction,” adds Pire. Chin-ups can aid in correcting this imbalance, so include them in your exercise routine once or twice a week for a powerful upper body.
Feeling daunted? Attempt dividing this test into multiple smaller fitness objectives. The initial step is perfecting the stationary-arm hold, says Adam Bornstein, accredited coach and founder of Born Fitness. “Stand on a box (or bench) beneath a chin-up bar. Securely grasp the bar with your palms facing away from you and leap up. Keep your chest as close to the bar as possible and suspend yourself there for as long as you can withstand. When you begin to sense yourself descending, gradually lower yourself down for three to five seconds until your feet are back on the box. Then leap back up and complete another repetition,” explains Bornstein. Aim for five repetitions, maintaining the hold for at least 10 seconds and gradually lowering down each time, he suggests.
Once you progress to a 30-second hold for five repetitions, you are prepared to move on to step two: band-assisted chin-ups. “To commence, secure one end of a sizable resistance band around a chin-up bar and then position both of your feet on the other end of the band. Strive to perform six to eight repetitions. If that becomes effortless, then transition to having just one foot in the band,” he says. Execute three sets of eight to 10 repetitions, and you should be ready to tackle that unsupplemented chin-up once and for all. (Here’s a comprehensive tutorial to ultimately executing a chin-up.)
Already achieved it? Go for five.
Conquer a Rope Ascent
Ascending a rope is another splendid (and enjoyable!) challenge for those seeking an effective upper-body workout. “Rope ascent is a skill that necessitates upper body/pulling strength, core strength, and flexibility,” educates Tracey Magee, proprietor of CrossFit Clan Performance Center in New Jersey. “There is additionally an aspect of trepidation for some individuals, so developing confidence as they progress toward this objective is also crucial,” she adds.
Prior to endeavoring a rope ascent, you must develop some pulling strength.
Start with reversed columns with rings or a TRX, then advance to stringent chin-ups and torso-to-bar chin-ups. Following that, experiment with cord tugs from a seated posture: Sit beneath the cord and gradually elevate yourself to an upright stance by “ascending” the cord.
You utilize your entire body to ascend a rope, so it is advisable to incorporate triceps dips into your training regimen, alongside pressing exercises like push-ups and dumbbell overhead presses. Core work is also of utmost importance: “Strengthening your abdominal muscles, spinal erectors, obliques, and intrinsic stabilizers will build a resilient core,” declares Magee. Integrate hollow holds, supermans, sit-ups, V-ups, planks, and Russian twists into your routine. Depending on your strength and skill level, these movements should be included in your training programs at least three times per week, gradually increasing the number of repetitions as your strength improves.
Once you feel adequately strong, acquire a climbing technique: S-hook or J-hook. Consider seeking a demonstration from a CrossFit or other strength coach. Once you have mastered it with your feet, progress to executing it legless.
Sustain a One-Minute (or Longer) Plank
Core strength and planking go hand in hand. Join the ranks of individuals setting plank fitness objectives by first mastering your plank posture and then gradually increasing the duration over time.
“Commence with: what is your starting point?” suggests Heather Stevens, former yoga and interval master trainer at Studio Three. Maintain your plank for 15 seconds, assess your progress, and when it begins to feel effortless, add 10 to 15 seconds incrementally. Aim for 30 seconds and progress from there, she advises. “Planks necessitate complete core strength and shoulder stability, therefore, your workouts should also include exercises that strengthen your shoulders (e.g. overhead presses) and other core movements,” Stevens adds.
If you have already achieved mastery in sustaining a one-minute plank, challenge yourself to hold it for the duration of your favorite song or up to five minutes. “To attain that, it is essential to integrate supplementary core workouts into your daily strength routine. Try incorporating additional Russian twists, reverse crunches, and hanging leg raises,” suggests Stevens.
Other methods to advance your planks include incorporating movement and performing three-limbed planks. “Begin with the basic plank and gradually introduce toe taps, mountain climbers, and shoulder taps. Once you feel prepared, assume a traditional high plank and lift your right hand to touch your left shoulder, holding for thirty seconds. Repeat the process by lifting your left hand to your right shoulder,” elucidates Stevens. Make sure to keep your hips parallel to the floor and position your feet wider than your hips, gradually bringing them closer together as you progress, she recommends.
Execute a Backflip
Cavan Images/Getty Images
Evaluate Simone Biles’ status (at least within your own social circle) by successfully executing your first unassisted backward somersault – specifically, a tuck. To accomplish a backflip, you’ll need to develop considerable strength and coordination in your body. To begin, attempt this gymnastics-influenced bodyweight workout, practice handstand exercises approved by gymnasts to become comfortable with being upside-down, and enhance your body’s awareness through Pilates.
“Placing the jump board onto the Pilates reformer is an excellent way to enhance agility, leg strength, power, and cardiovascular endurance simultaneously! A jump-board class can assist you in achieving the required height, power, and strength for your backflip,” advises Sara Grout, former primary instructor at Club Pilates. Then, take those plyometric movements from the reformer and practice squat jumps and tuck jumps on the floor or even on a trampoline.
Developing core strength is also crucial for successful execution: “The more robust your abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and transverse abdominals), the tighter you can curl your body into a ball, resulting in easier aerial flips,” explains Grout.
Once you feel confident, seek the assistance of a qualified gymnastics or tumbling coach to guide you in executing a backflip. “When learning the proper steps for executing a backflip, it is important to have someone there to coach you through maintaining proper form and, most importantly, to provide spotting to ensure your safety,” says Grout.
Elevate Your Bodyweight
Cavan Images/Getty Images
Elevating your own bodyweight may sound like a goal typically associated with professional bodybuilders, but all you truly need is a bit of structured planning and consistency – at least, according to Ronnie Lubischer, C.S.C.S., a NASM-certified personal trainer and the proprietor of Lubischer’s Burn and Blast Training. “You can employ a nearly identical approach to tackle your body weight in any of the five fundamental compound lifts: squat, deadlift, bent-over row, shoulder press, and bench press,” affirms Lubischer.
To commence, you’ll desire to train the functioning muscles twice a week with two to three days in between each workout. For instance, if your objective is to bench press your body mass, “before bench-pressing, you should engage in some supplementary movements,” says Lubischer. Choose two or three exercises — such as cable face pulls/upright rows (upper posterior strength), front raises/lateral raises (shoulder girdle stability), and press-downs/overhead extensions (triceps strength) if you want to bench press — and aim for three sets of 15 to 25 repetitions. “Each contributes to the overall strength of the bench press movement,” he clarifies.
Then, you should strive to raise 30 percent of your bodyweight in the first week (so, if you weigh 140 lbs, lift 42 lbs), progressively increasing the lifting weight by approximately 5 percent and alternating the sets and repetitions each week. When uncertain, consult a trainer or strength coach for guidance, to assess your form, or for a spotter. If you feel prepared, attempt this sample 16-week bench press schedule for beginners:
- Week 1: 5 sets x 10 repetitions at 30% of bodyweight (BW)
- Week 2: 5 x 8 repetitions at 35% BW
- Week 3: 5 x 5 repetitions at 40% BW
- Week 4: 5 x 3 repetitions at 45% BW
- Week 5: 5 x 10 repetitions at 40% BW
- Week 6: 5 x 8 repetitions at 50% BW
- Week 7: 5 x 5 repetitions at 55% BW
- Week 8: 5 x 3 repetitions at 60% BW
- Week 9: 5 x 10 repetitions at 50% BW
- Week 10: 4 x 8 repetitions at 65% BW
- Week 11: 4 x 5 repetitions at 75% BW
- Week 12: 4 x 3 repetitions at 85% BW
- Week 13: 5 x 10 repetitions at 75% BW
- Week 14: 3 x 8 repetitions at 85% BW
- Week 15: 3 x 5 repetitions at 90% BW
- Week 16: 3 x 3 repetitions at 100% BW
Discover How to Bodyboard
Cade Martin/Getty Images
After accomplishing your swimming fitness objectives, endeavor to elevate the stakes (and reap substantial benefits) by acquiring the skill of bodyboarding, which serves as an excellent transition to surfing, according to Christa DiPaolo, a NASM-certified trainer and creator of Boxing & Bubbles. DiPaolo acquired the know-how from her surfer fiancé and was astounded by the immense skill and athleticism required for the sport. (These surfing-inspired exercises will give you a glimpse.)
“Commence by engaging in regular laps in the pool until you feel confident in confronting Mother Nature,” suggests DiPaolo.
Equipment is essential, so it’s important to have the appropriate bodyboard based on your height,” she suggests. A staff member at a nearby surf shop should be able to assist you in selecting one and arranging lessons with a professional surfer — which is your best option for learning.
“Initially, you’ll need to ‘interpret’ the waves, so your initial lesson will be sitting on the shoreline and learning about how the waves crash. This is crucial so you have an understanding of whether to go left or right once you’re in the water,” explains DiPaolo. “Once you’ve mastered interpreting the waves (which was the most challenging aspect for me), you’ll progress to paddling out and duck-diving, and before you know it, you’ll be catching your first hollow wave like Kelly Slater!” she exclaims.