How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Outcome and Process Goals

You are probably more familiar with outcome goals, which focus on specific accomplishments. For example, "losing 15 pounds in the next 10 weeks" is an outcome goal. So is "running a 20-min 5K road race by the end of the season."

Outcome goals are very important and when they are written using the S.M.A.R.T. criteria, they can give you a helpful target. However, when people fail to achieve their outcome goals, they can become demoralized and give up on their exercise regimen.

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Process goals focus on the implementation of your exercise program. For example, a good process goal is "to exercise four times this week for at least 20 minutes per workout." You have more control over accomplishing this goal and it will help you get in the habit of exercising.

Other process goals include:

  • Walk 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Find an exercise partner in the next three weeks.
  • Buy an exercise journal and record daily workouts.
  • Run a total of 15 miles a week for the next four weeks.
  • Fix your bike and ride it twice a week for the next two months.
  • Ride your bike 40 miles a week for the next four weeks.
  • Swim three days a week for 30 minutes each workout.
  • Measure your daily caloric intake and record it in your exercise journal for 14 days.
  • Complete a fitness assessment within the next 30 days.

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About the Author

Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone A. Holmes, Ed.D, CPT, is a certified personal trainer through the American Council on Exercise and a Level 2 cycling coach through USA Cycling. He provides Cycle-Max Coaching for cyclists and multisport athletes who want to improve their performance on the bike and Healthy Life Coaching for individuals who want to lose weight and develop healthier lifestyles. His latest book is Developing Training Plans for Cyclists and Triathletes. Visit his website at and his Fitness Corner blog at

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