What is your fitness goal?
Is it a good goal?
Do you even know how to differentiate between a good goal and a bad one?
In my experience, good fitness goals should be both specific and measurable.
I want to lose weight is measurable, but not specific. How much weight? In what time frame? Will any weight do, or do you want to lose only fat?
Getting more specific with your goals takes a little extra time in the beginning. However, it will greatly increase your chances of success, so take the time to do it.
MVP and KPI
A minimum viable product (MVP) is a product that has just enough features to be functional.
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measurement that indicates whether or not you are making progress and, if so, how much.
Businesses don’t usually start with a perfect product. Most companies start with an MVP then improve from there using customer feedback and their own KPIs.
Think about companies like Facebook or Netflix. They are much different today than when they started because they continuously improve using KPIs of their choosing.
Most businesses start with an MVP that is functional and little else. Then they pick KPIs to measure. Based on what those KPIs are telling them, they adjust the product or service from there.
Applied to fitness
An MVP in the context of fitness is any safe workout program.
The program does not have to be anything close to perfect. In fact, trying to find the perfect program can hurt you because it may delay your start date. Just find a safe program (MVP) and start. Then, use your KPIs to guide any adjustments you need to make.
This strategy will help you fall into the trap of procrastinating while you figure out a perfect plan. As long as what you are doing is safe, just get going immediately. Procrastinating is dangerous because "I'll start later" often becomes "I'll start never."
KPIs in a fitness context will depend on your goal. That is why having a good goal is so important. Your goal needs to be specific and measurable. The more specific, the more measurable it is.
Here is a KPI example from simple…
Goal = Get in shape | KPI = I have no idea
Goal = Lose weight | KPI = The Scale
Goal= Lose 5% Bodyfat | KPI = Bodyfat % (can be measured many ways)
Goal = Lose 20 Pounds without losing any more than 2 pounds of muscle and lose no more than 20 pounds from my max back squat | KPIs = The Scale, Bodyfat %, and max back squat
to more complex…
Goal = Get in shape | KPI = I have no idea
Goal = Gain Weight | KPI = The Scale
Goal = Gain muscle while maintaining Bodyfat % | KPI = Scale, Bodyfat %
Goal = Gain 10 pounds of Muscle, keep Bodyfat % the same, and add 20 pounds to max back squat | KPIs = The Scale, Bodyfat %, and max back squat
Note: Remember, you don't need to be perfect from the start. You can keep your measurements simple in the beginning and then build the complexity as you go.
Common mistakes and how to fix them
Setting good goals and measuring them optimally is easier said than done. It often takes years of trial and error to get good at setting and measuring goals.
Here are a couple of common mistakes and how to fix them.
Goal: Lose Weight | Mistake: Losing too much muscle.
Losing weight is probably the most common fitness goal of all time. The problem is that most people don’t actually want to lose weight. They want to lose fat.
The most common KPI for weight loss is the scale. The problem with the scale is that it does not show what kind of weight you lost. Was it mostly fat, or did it include a lot of muscle and water?
In addition to the scale, it is important to measure your body fat. That will let you know if you are losing the right kind of weight.
Goal: Gain Muscle | Mistake: Gaining too much fat
If losing weight is the most common fitness goal, gaining muscle is probably second. The most common mistake when trying to gain muscle is to overeat and gain fat simultaneously.
Similar to losing weight, the most common KPI for muscle gain is the scale. A vast majority of people will gain some fat when they put on muscle. However, the amount of fat should be small enough that your total body fat % remains the same or goes down with the added muscle.
The solution is also the same, measure your bodyfat periodically and use that information to make changes to your diet and/or workout routine as needed.
Why it is so important to get started immediately
Regardless of what your goal is, getting started immediately is probably the most important thing.
Procrastination has a tendency to become permanent, or at the very least long term. Every day that you procrastinate is another day, you are not making progress towards your goal.
There is no doubt about it; there is value in having a better fitness plan. However, there is no reason you can't improve your plan while also seeing progress. You will also make better adjustments to your plan with real-world experience. A real-world experience gives you valuable feedback on what does and does not work.
A good goal is important for getting you headed in the right direction. However, a good goal is only half the battle. You still need a plan for how to measure your progress. Measuring your progress accurately will then make it easier to make adjustments as you go.
Whatever your goal, make sure you get started as soon as possible. You will never get everything right the first time anyway. Make mistakes as you go and correct them as often as you can.