Setting realistic fitness goals for beginners is a step that we all need to take on our fitness journey. And whether we want to lose weight, or build muscle, there are some principles that we need to adhere to.
In this article, we will talk about those principles, and how you can apply them to make your fitness goals realistic and attainable.
One of the biggest downfalls of beginners to fitness, is thinking that they can get shredded in a condensed amount of time or minimal effort. Unfortunately, the industry pushes the idea that you can get in awesome shape with one simple trick. But it’s not going to happen.
I know this because I was once one of those people. I thought the perfect pushup would get me jacked. It didn’t. I thought that drinking one protein shake per day would turn me into a bodybuilder. That didn’t either.
What ultimately helped me reach my goals was understanding that the fitness journey is a process. A process that involves dedication, calculations, and planning.
How to set realistic fitness goals for beginners
Before we set our fitness goals, we must first understand what is in the realm of attainability. Meaning if we dedicate ourselves to all aspects of fitness, what is the best result that we can achieve?
We can start first with a question. Do you want to lose weight, or do you want to gain muscle? Those are the only 2 options for now. If you want to lose weight, you can sustainably lose 1-2 pounds per week. If you want to build muscle, you can sustainably gain a half pound of muscle per week.
Let’s do some quick math. Losing 1-2 pounds per week for a whole year means that you have the potential to lose 52-104 pounds per year. Gaining a half pound of muscle per week means that you could gain 26 pounds of muscle per year.
When you add everything up to the yearly totals, that is what is really impressive to me. Knowing that if you dedicate yourself entirely to this process, you could completely transform your body. That is something to be excited about.
Using these facts to our advantage
So now that we know our potential, let’s talk about setting goals. Whether or not you want to lose weight or gain weight, eating right is the most important part of setting realistic fitness goals for beginners.
All of these potential weight loss and muscle gain numbers are dependent on one thing. Caloric deficits, and caloric surpluses. You cannot lose weight unless you are eating at a constant state of caloric deficit. And you cannot gain muscle unless you are eating at a constant state of caloric surplus. It is that simple.
You can workout all day everyday. But if your body isn’t in a state indicative of your goals, you might as well not do it. You won’t get the results you are after.
Here are the steps that you will need to take in order to be on the right track:
- Learn how to calculate your maintenance calories.
- Eat at a caloric deficit or surplus (depending on your goals)
- Do workouts that take advantage of your caloric surplus or deficit (more in the next section)
One you have this list down, you will be able to really dial in your diet and accelerate your goals. If there is one thing that you can take aways from this, it is that getting in shape is 90% diet, 10% fitness.
Best workouts for realistic fitness goals
Now that you know how important your caloric intake is, it is time to start working out towards your goals. The best thing to do for those that want to lose weight is high intensity interval training (HIIT for short). The best thing to do for those that want to gain muscle is weight training.
HIIT is a very intense form of working out, but it sheds fat at a rapid pace. When you combine HIIT with a caloric deficit, your body will really push towards those goals. If you are trying to lose fat, I recommend doing HIIT workouts 3-4 days per week. Be sure to check out 4 of the best high intensity interval training workouts for beginners at home.
Building muscle is completely different. You want to avoid doing HIIT workouts. The best thing to do for muscle building is weight training. When you combine this with a caloric surplus, you will certainly gain muscle. Again, for beginners, I recommend working out 3-4 days per week. To get you started, you can check out our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass.
You can do all these things manually. But if you want guidance and plans, I recommend downloading our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). We have FREE built in workout plans, and also 10 HIIT workouts. You won’t regret downloading it.
You know that diet is important, and I even said that 90% of your goals rely on your diet. But working out is also very important. Your diet ensures that you either lose weight or gain weight. The exercises that you choose determines that body that you are going to have.
Bringing it all together
We have all the facts in front of us now. We know that there are sustainable ways to lose weight (or gain muscle), and we are going to take advantage of that. So let’s go over some realistic fitness goals for beginners to lose weight:
- Lose 1 pounds per week
- Eliminate 4 pounds per month
- Lose 25 pounds in 6 months
- Eliminate 50 pounds in a year
Did you notice that these goals are all based off of the lower end of my sustainable weight loss goals from the first section? The point here is that we need small goals to hit every week and every month in order keep motivated towards our ultimate goal.
Maybe you are trying to build muscle. Here are some realistic muscle building goals that you can aspire to:
- Gain a half pound of muscle per week
- Build 2 pounds of muscle per month
- Gain 12 pounds of muscle in 6 months
- Build 24 pounds of muscle in a year
Again, these numbers are based off of the muscle building goal possibilities from section one. And these are very realistic if you are eating for your goals.
Do not be worried if you are not hitting these goals exactly every week. We just want to see a trend. And if you don’t see progress for 2 weeks in a row, you are going to want to adjust your calorie intake and keep moving forward.
Main Point: Realistic fitness goals for beginners
Setting realistic fitness goals for beginners might be a little bit challenging at first. But once you know the background of why things work, it becomes a little bit more clear what works and what doesn’t.
The numbers are simple. If you are eating at a caloric deficit, expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. If you are eating at a caloric surplus, expect to build a half pound of muscle per week.
These are very realistic numbers, and I even made sure to confirm this with the mayo clinic.
We must not forget that our fitness goals are driven by our overall calorie intake. Once you learn how to calculate your maintenance calories, you will be way ahead of the game. Your goals will become reality if you can keep this motivation up for an extended period of time.
Making your goals small at first is a great way to keep the motivation going. Like losing 1 pound per week. When you put it that way, it doesn’t seem like that big of a challenge. But losing 52 pounds per year seems like a ton, and it is more than possible.
If there is one thing that I want you to take away from this whole entire article, it’s that if you want to lose weight, eat at a caloric deficit. If you want to gain muscle, eat at a caloric surplus. All of these surpluses and deficits are based off of your maintenance calories.
If your maintenance calories are 2,500, and you want to lose weight, start by eating 500 calories per day UNDER your maintenance. So that would be 2,000 calories per day. You can keep track of all your calories with an app like MyFitnessPal.