By using the best benchmarks

Are you having trouble sticking to your goal? You're not alone, and although there are many possible reasons why consider if it's because the goal you're trying to stick to is unrealistic or unclear in some way. Often people set their goals too low (motivation is an issue), too high (risking disappointment), or they aren't specific enough with how they're going to measure it. But understanding different fitness benchmarks, and using them to focus and measure your goals, can fix all that and give you both clear direction and clear ways to mark your progress. It's hard to know where you're going if you don't know where you're starting from!

By using the best benchmarks

Use these benchmarks to set you're starting point, and your finish line:

  1. Heart Rate A great way to measure your physical fitness level and cardiovascular health is to keep track of your heart rate -- hence all the heart rate monitors on the market these days. You want to aim to be at around 50% of your maximum heart rate (220 minus your age) when you're first getting started, and work your way up to 75% as your fitness level increases.
  2. Gym Time How much time are you spending in the gym every week? Experts recommend anywhere from 20-30 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular workouts 3-5 days a week, plus strength training exercises about twice a week. Where are you now? Where would you like to be?
  3. Weight Loss Forget (for right now) what you want the scale to read ultimately, and instead set a smaller, easier-to-achieve goal so you don't end up feeling frustrated.
  4. Running Time If you set out to slowly increase your running time, from wherever you are now, you'll able to see the results in plain numbers, both on your watch and on the scale.
  5. Flexibility Your flexibility is probably one of the sneakiest things to go as you age, but stalling that decline (and getting some of what you've lost back) is great for your health. Talk to a personal trainer for an assessment and personalized suggestions.
  6. Weight Training This one is easy to measure: if you're looking to improve resistance then keep track of and slowly increase the repetitions you do, or if you're looking to increase strength then slowly raise the weight you lift.
  7. Aerobic Fitness Get a gadget (maybe a Polar F11 heart rate monitor?) to measure your vitals when resting compared to when exercising, and compare the results along the way as you work out.
  8. Strength How many push-ups and curl-ups can you do? A staple in many fitness tests, focusing on improving these two moves can give you something specific to work towards as you become generally and all-around healthier.
  9. Metabolic Age By building more lean body mass you can actually achieve a metabolic age that's less than your chronological age, and that's a good thing!

Balance I think balance is like flexibility in that you lose it as you age but you don't always notice until it's getting too late. Test yourself by timing how long you can stand one leg, and compare legs. If there's more than a 10% difference between the two you probably want to start practicing!

Mohammed khalf
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writer and blogger, founder of Go motivations .

New section : goal setting

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