How to set Fitness Goals as a Beginner

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If you’re new to working out, setting fitness goals can help you stay on track and measure your progress.

If you’re like me, you just realized we’re already halfway through the year and your fitness goals have been put on the back burner. Fitness goals for beginners are especially challenging because you’re still figuring it out!

Unlike someone who has been working out for a while, you don’t know what your body can do quite yet. This makes setting goals tricky because you don’t know what is achievable. 

However, I believe goal setting is super important! It’s a good way to measure progress and stay on track. 

So before we get into some fitness goals for beginners (I tried to make a list beyond strength training), I wanted to talk about some things you should think about when setting fitness goals. This way you can set some realistic goals for yourself. 

Define your Why

Just like any goal you make, you should figure out why you’re making these fitness goals. Don’t sell yourself short by saying your ‘why’ is to get into shape. That isn’t going to help anyone. 

You have to dive a little deeper here. Figure out what is going to drive you on days that you just aren’t feeling it… And believe me, you’ll have plenty of days like this. 

Like anything in life, your mindset is so important and you need to get in the right headspace when setting these goals. 

So keep asking yourself why until you can’t think of another answer. If you’re coming up with arbitrary things like losing weight, you have to dig deeper. It’ll help you decide how to get there. 

Why do you want to lose weight?

Why do you want to be healthier? 

Set some goals

Once you come up with your why it’s easier to map out your goals. For example, if your why is that you want to get healthier because you want to have more energy then your goals should include nutrition and sleep. 

Your why will be your driving force and your goals should reflect that. I suggest creating some big picture goals but then some short-term goals to get you to these longer-term goals. 

Think of where you want to be a year from now and jot them down. These can be your long-term goals. 

Once you’ve come up with a few long-term goals, think about ways to achieve them. I like to create monthly goals that lead up to my yearly goals.  The planner in me likes to re-evaluate my progress at the end of each month. That way, I can adjust accordingly. 

Reflecting back on the previous month is a good way to check in with yourself to gain some awareness. What did you do well? What could you improve on? Are you making progress towards those long-term goals?

Especially if you’re a beginner, your fitness goals might change. For example, when I first started I had a goal that I was going to do a chin-up and a pull-up in a year. That didn’t happen but I did make some major strides. 

Making this fitness goal at least gave me something to work towards. I came up short but I was also closer than I was if I didn’t make that goal. Now, it’s just a longer-term goal than I originally thought. 

Here’s a good article on SMART goals and more about personal goal setting if you’d like to learn more.

Find a workout you like

A good fitness goal for beginners is actually as simple as finding a workout routine you enjoy. 

Maybe you think you’re going to enjoy lifting weights but then realize that you love running. This is way more important than accomplishing lifting goals because you’ve found something you’re actually going to stick to!

If you are able to find an activity that keeps you active weekly that you enjoy and makes you feel good then you’re on the right path. 

Stretch more

No matter what type of workout you decide is going to be for you, you should definitely try to jot down some flexibility goals. Trust me, getting into the habit of stretching more is going to benefit you in the long run.

I’m terrible at stretching but flexibility plays a huge part in staying injury-free. It’s also going to help you move better and even recover better. 

I started stretching before bed and I can feel the difference in my workout routine as my flexibility has increased.

Focus on form

I’ve said this once, and I’ll say it again. Form is so important. If you are a beginner, some of your fitness goals should be surrounding form. It’s the foundation of your workout journey.

Without proper form, you aren’t going to work the right muscles and you open yourself up to injury. 

It is way more important to perfect form as a beginner than to lift a ton of weight. If you try to skip perfecting your form now, you’re going to have to do it eventually. 

Add steps where you can

Another goal the majority of us could benefit from is walking more. Now, society says we should get 10,000 steps a day. Which is a good goal but honestly unrealistic for a lot of us who live sedentary lives.

At least at first.

If you set a goal that you’re going to walk 10,000 steps a day when you currently walk 3,000 steps, it’s going to be hard. I’ve tried this and I give up after a few days when it’s raining, the weather is too hot, or I just don’t feel like it. 

What I suggest doing is determining what your average daily steps are and add 1,000 steps to it. It’s challenging enough that you have to put effort into it but it isn’t going from 0 to 100. 

So if you walk 3,000 steps a day, tell yourself that next month you’ll walk 4,000 steps a day. Then the following month walk 5,000 steps a day. Figure out what is the highest amount of steps you can do in a day without driving yourself nuts.

The most important thing is that you’re walking. I have a whole article on the benefits of walking if you need convincing. 

As humans, we aren’t meant to be sitting all day. Modern society has made it super easy to do this so we should try to move more throughout the day.

It takes a little effort but there are ways to add more steps into your daily routine. It can be as simple as parking farther away or taking the stairs. 

Fitness is more than just exercise

Coming off the walking point, fitness goals for beginners should go beyond that hour you’re going to spend working out. There are 23 hours left in the day. If you fill it with junk food and Netflix binging, you aren’t going to feel good and you’re going to hurt your progress. 

Now, I’m not saying you can’t have your favorite junk foods ever again. (I will never give up fries). You know, we want what we can’t have so that won’t work. 

But instead of saying you’re going to completely cut out a food group, some good goals are drinking more water, sleeping more, or adding more vegetables into your diet. 

It’s incredible how much better you feel if you are fueling your body properly and when you’re actually hydrated. Besides the increased trips to the bathroom (but that also increases your steps), drinking more water is super easy to do. 

Just like anything else, I suggest taking some baby steps when changing your habits. 

Schedule your workouts

A good way to stick to your fitness routine which will lead you to keep to your fitness goals is to schedule your workouts. It makes it more of a commitment and you’re more likely to keep to it. We all know there are ways to fit a fitness routine into a busy schedule.

If you didn’t catch my common theme of baby steps throughout this post, then here it is again. Building up to it is going to make it more attainable. 

It’s not a race.

If you’re completely new to working out, you aren’t going to be able to keep up with going to the gym 5 days a week at first. Going from zero to a hundred is just going to cause you to get sore or burn out and it’s not a good idea.

Hopefully, you are trying to create these fitness goals so that you create a healthier lifestyle that will last a lifetime. We all know that once you lose the ten pounds if you go back to your old ways, you’re going to gain it all back.

That’s why crash diets don’t work for many people. 

Instead, if you take baby steps and incorporate healthier habits into your routine, you are more likely to be successful. 

Start with three times a week and build your way up to five.

So remember, this isn’t a race, it’s a journey. 

Give yourself grace

Especially as a beginner, setting fitness goals is hard. You don’t know what you’re doing. 

That doesn’t mean don’t set them. I actually think it’s good to set some goals that seem impossible now. It’s a good way to push yourself.

But with that being said, you have to remember that if you don’t reach it, it’s okay. It’s like that old saying that you’re lapping everyone on the couch. 

But I’d go beyond that and say that you’re closer to those goals than if you never tried. Going back to the weight loss example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds and you end up losing 8 pounds, you still did a good job! Then you only have two pounds to go versus the ten when you started. 

So my piece of advice is to give yourself grace with the timeline. The timeline isn’t set in stone. It’s more like guidelines so you have something to work towards. 

Make sure you celebrate small wins along the way. You’ll learn that fitness is all about the journey. As my favorite fitness coach, Katie Sonier always says, “Trust the process”. 

Some days you are going to feel stronger than others and that’s okay. The most important thing is that you showed up.

Fitness Goals Examples

Now, as promised here are some fitness goals for beginners. It’s important to customize these goals to fit your unique journey. 

  • Find a fitness routine you love
  • Do 1 unassisted chin-up
  • Overhead Press half your bodyweight
  • Squat your bodyweight
  • Hip Thrust two times your bodyweight
  • 1 push-up not on your knees
  • Holding a plank longer than a minute
  • Improving flexibility
  • Improving balance 
  • Run a 10 K

If you noticed, none of these goals have anything to do with the way your body looks. I think that’s important since we can’t control genetics. 

I also wrote an article on the lesson I learned when I started strength training if you’re interested in starting a weight lifting routine.

As long as you’re working out and incorporating a nutritious diet, your body is going to look more toned. I think it’s something we need to move away from as a society since obsessing over your body isn’t going to make you feel good. 

But I digress since that could be a completely different article. 

Let me know in the comments below what are some of your fitness goals. Any advice you can give beginners when setting fitness goals?

Until next time,

How to set Fitness Goals as a Beginner

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