How To Set Fitness & Health Goals That Will Motivate You

This is so simple and cliched that you’d think it wouldn't..

set fitness goals

How To Set Fitness & Health Goals That Will Motivate You

This is so simple and cliched that you’d think it wouldn’t need stating, but it does: Before you lift a weight or cut a calorie, you must have specific, tangible goals set in your mind as to why you’re doing it. 

People with vague, unrealistic, or uninspiring health or fitness goals (or none at all) are always the first to quit. They’re easy to spot, too.

They show up randomly and seem to sleepwalk through their training routines, wandering from machine to machine, going through the motions.

Week after week, they complain about how hard it is gain or lose weight. 

Let me assure you that anyone who has the type of body that you aspire to has very specific, realistic health and fitness goals and is driven by them, progressing slowly but surely every day.

When they meet one goal, they set another goal to stay motivated. This is what we’re going to work out for you. Guys have many different reasons for training:

  • Maybe you will like the game of pushing their bodies past its limits.
  • Some want to look good to impress girls.
  • Some want to feel more confident about themselves.
  • Maybe you want to be healthy and feel good.


The Reality

The reality is that all of these things are fine reasons to train.

Sure, I could give you a nice list of benefits of being in great shape, such as looking great, feeling great, having high energy levels, being resistant to sickness and disease, and so on, but the important thing is that you work out very specifically what fires you up about training.

We might as well start with what people usually consider more important: the visual. Hey, there’s nothing to be ashamed of here.

Every single person I know who has built an awesome physique was at least 50% motivated by the looks they wanted.

Sure, having no regard for health and only chasing looks leads to drugs and other harmful habits, but there’s nothing wrong with being motivated by wanting to look a certain way.

I value my health highly and am not solely driven by vanity, but I would be lying if I said I don’t care as much about the looks. I think being muscular and ripped looks awesome, and I feel good when I look in the mirror.

1. What Does Your Ideal Body Look Like?

The first step of establishing your goals is to determine what your ideal body would look like. Not just in your head, but in reality.

You need to find pictures of exactly what you want to look like and save them for future reference. 

It might seem silly for you to go searching on the internet for pictures of ripped guys, but it’s important that you have an exact visual image of how you want your body to look.

Throwing around words like “ripped” and “six pack” to describe your goal isn’t nearly as motivating as looking at pictures of real bodies that you are working toward. 

And here’s a fact: If you follow this program exactly and work hard, you can have the type of body you dream of.

The only case where I would say that this program can’t get you there is if you want to look like a hulking, professional bodybuilder.

That’s a whole other game altogether. But I doubt that’s your goal. Most guys just want to be muscular and shredded, and everyone can accomplish that if they dedicate themselves to it and follow the right game plan.

2. What Would Your Ideal State Of Health Be Like?

Now that you’ve worked out what you want to look like, let’s take a look at the other side of this coin: health.

Even if looking a certain way is your primary motivation for training, you will soon learn that the health benefits are just as motivating.

You’re going to feel better physically, you’re going to have higher energy levels, you’re going to get stronger, you’re going to be more mentally alert, you’re going to have a stronger sex drive, and more. 

Work out a health goal that you find motivating.

Mine is along these lines: to have a vital, energetic, strong, and disease-free body that lives long and allows me to stay active and enjoy my life to the fullest.

For me, that’s what this is all about. I want to live a long life, feel good, watch my kids grow up, and never suffer from debilitating diseases.

I’m sure your health interests are along the same lines, but feel free to work out your individual goals in whatever words best communicate to you.

3. Why Do You Want To Achieve These Goals?

All right, now that you’ve worked out what you want to look like and what level of health you want, the next question is why.

What are the reasons for achieving those goals? This is completely personal, so write whatever is most motivating to you. For the sake of simplicity, first write the “whys” for the looks goals, then focus on the health goal. 

Maybe you want to boost your confidence; maybe you want to better enjoy sports you play or physically taxing hobbies of yours. 

You want to get more attention from the opposite sex; maybe you want to feel the satisfaction of overcoming physical barriers. 

You want to be able to participate in physical activities with your kids; hell, maybe you want to beat your friends in arm wrestling matches.

Whatever your reasons, just write them all down.

For the sake of simplicity, first write the “whys” for the looks goals, then focus on the health goals.

9 Motivational Fitness Quotes To Inspire You Every Time You Work Out

1. Remember who you’re doing it for

It’s Your Workout, Your Time, Your Body, Own It.

2. Be proud

Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take toward reaching that goal. – unknown

3. Make fitness a habit

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going. – Jim Ryin

4. Keep going

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. – Earl Nightingale.

5. Attitude is everything

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

6. Remember your “why.”

When you feel like quitting, think about why you started. – unknown

7. Imagine how you’ll feel after

You’re only one workout away from a good mood. – unknown

8. Give it your best

The same voice that says “give up” can also be trained to say “keep going” – unknown

9. Make the most of your workout

Walk away from every workout feeling proud, accomplished, and strong as hell.

Different Types of Motivation


Intrinsic motivation on the other hand is the type where you are performing the action based strictly on the fact that you love doing it and find a personal satisfaction from doing it.

This is more common among athletes (those who are more at the beginner levels and are not playing to win prize money or titles), and those who take up a hobby that they tend to loose themselves in.

Studies have shown that exercisers who exercise for intrinsic motivations are much more likely to stick with their workout program than those who are motivated extrinsically (to fit into a dress for example).


Extrinsic motivation is the type where you are not really doing an activity because you truly love it, but rather because you are being rewarded from an external source.

For example, if someone was paying you to work out.

This type of motivation tends to decrease our desire to perform the action since we almost begin to view it as something that has to be done, rather than something we are doing on our own will.

A Reward System

This may seem like a funny point considering what you just read on extrinsic motivation. However having a reward system can be very beneficial.

What is important is that the rewards are set by you and have a particular meaning to you.

This will keep everything under your control so you won’t begin to feel like you are being regulated by someone else (as is usually the case for extrinsic motivation).

By setting small rewards after each step in your plan. You will give yourself something to look forward to and keep yourself motivated to keep pushing onward.

A Role Model

Role models can be very important tools in any type of goal program.

By having someone who you look up to, whether it is for their values, their hard work, or how they look, you will be providing yourself with a measure on which to measure yourself with.

Granted, it is not good to measure yourself against everyone you see. As this may make you start to feel inadequate and upset with yourself, but by having one chosen individual who you wish to become more like.

You will be able to compare yourself and see what areas you need to improve on and where you have made a great deal of progress.

The Bottom Line

By doing these three simple steps, you’ll have created a powerful “motivation sheet” that will always point the way.

When you feel a bit tired and are dreading the gym, you can just look at that sheet. And you’ll probably change your mind.

When you’re out with friends, watching them stuff themselves silly while you’re eating your fish and vegetables, you’ll know exactly why you’re doing it.

This is the simple yet powerful formula that I’ve used to keep myself continually motivated to train and diet for years.

My goals have changed over time, but I’ve always ensured that I knew where I was going and why. Chances are you will greatly benefit by doing the same.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

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