From toning abs to running marathons: 3 common fitness goals & how to achieve them
Not all goals take the same amount of time to reach. With an avalanche of fitness advice on the subject, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture when you’re setting your own. Every body is different, every goal is different, and the amount of effort you need to put in to see results may differ from the person on the treadmill next to you.
The best way to stick to any fitness regime is to create goals. From weight loss to marathon running, we rounded up three exercise goals and what you need to do to reach them.
Goal #1: Run a marathon
The first step of reaching that 26.2-mile victory is to set a realistic training schedule and timeframe - between 12 to 20 weeks is about right, depending on your fitness levels and experience. This is a long-term commitment, so make sure you’re aware of the changes you’ll have to make before you begin: quiet Friday nights in, running in your lunch hours, maybe even running to work.
Start from two-mile to 10-mile runs, and gradually build up your distance. Don’t increase your mileage any more than five miles weekly - training for a marathon requires a balance of exertion and recovery. During your training, you’re going to have niggles, aches and setbacks - listen to your body to prevent injuries. Running buddies and clubs full of people with similar goals can be invaluable support.
There’s no escaping it - marathons hurt. Make sure you’re mentally prepared, reminding yourself why you are doing this (i.e. to reach the pinnacle of all running goals). Don’t try to push for a record-breaking time - be realistic and enjoy the race. Knowing your pace can avoid hitting the "20-mile wall" later in the run.
Goal #2: Lose 5kg
While quick fixes and diet fads are tempting, they’re not the right way to reach your goals healthily. If you’re aiming to lose 5kg, don’t try and do it all in a couple of weeks - it should be more like a couple of months, realistically. Cut out between 500-750 calories each day, exercising at least three times a week, and you should drop between 0.5 to 1kg every week. Eat lean protein, plenty of fruit and vegetables and whole grains, controlling hunger pangs with a glass of water.
One of the most common reasons people quit weight loss plans is because results don’t show straight away. Despite the fact that heading to the gym and eating healthier is giving your body a multitude of benefits, you may be demotivated if you don’t see changes in the mirror as soon as you start exercising. Regularly remind yourself why you’re following the plan and use an app like MyFitnessPal to keep on top of your diet - family, friends and community groups such as your local fitness class are another brilliant boost to keep you going.
Goal #3: Tone abs and butt
Dive straight in:
The beauty of core strengthening exercises is that they show quick results. A few crunches and lunges every night can go a long way - but you need to implement a plan to see a change in shape in the long run. Try a 30-day challenge: starting with 10 squats and 10 crunches on day one, increasing the amount you do every day. Swap the squats and crunches with lunges and planks on alternative days, until by day 30 you’re able to perform 50 squats and 50 crunches with ease, thanks to your conditioned abs and glutes.