Goal: Setting yourself up to fail Part 2

SMART Goal Continued

I started the other day by going through the SMART goal frame work and the meaning behind it. In this post I will discuss the framework’s draw backs, risks and limitations.


When planning a SMART goal, it’s important to be very ‘realistic’. You should go through all the apparent risks on that part of the frameowrk. Failure to do this can cause a few holes in the logic or risks to appear. For example a car manufacturer that wants to be the market leader in cheap cars. They may set themselves a goal to produce a car that costs consumers less than £5,000. This if course looks great on paper and would be a revolutionary idea. However, cheap parts means potentially a cheap job and could risjk the compaines future business plans. The bottom line is to evaluate the risks and not be too unrealistic.

Be aware not to set up too many goals at one time, it can be great to have a whole board set up with several tasks for the New Year. What is likely to happen is that they will either confilct with one another or you will get confused by trying to keep up with everything. Have one or two core goals that you are chasing at any given time.


The SMART goal framework works well if you are able to discipline yourslef to achieve what you need to. There isn’t, however, any accountability included. To be properly successful with this framework you must make sure you are accountable to something or someone. This can be a close relative or partner. If you aren’t fully committed to what you’re doing then there is a risk that with no strong accountability, the goal will be lost.


The person you choose to be accountable to needs to be reliable. Reliable so that when you’re faltering below where you should be, they will step in and re-position you in the right place to continue the goals. Briefness is a must here, and they must be able to remind you of any times you fall off the wagon.


Goals: Setting yourself up to fail

Goals setting: The process

Goals are imperative to achieving something. If you have a target that you want to reach then it must be done in a calucalted adn methodical approach. Most of the time this is done through “Smart Goals”. This is a way to break down the goal down into manageable pieces and also allows you to track your progress effectively.

So many people do not go through this imperative process, and set themselves up to fail. Similarly, people attempt this process but don’t fully understand what it is or how it works. This article will help you understand the process a little better.

‘SMART’ Goals

I have a love hate relationship with this method of goal setting. Initially I found it very annoying, but I have come to realise it is a very useful tool in goals acquisition. Each of the letters stand for something but also have a vast depth of understanding behind them.


Specific means to be precise. Many goals are lost or just forgotten because they are too complex. Keep it simple and it will stay attainable.


This is a means of how you will measure your progress through the goal. If it is a training goal, then you will use a notepad or measureing tape for example. It must be measured in a tangible way, otherwise it will never be completed.


This is a way of reality checking your goal, is it actually achieveable within the time frame you have set, or with the resources you have? Make sure the goal is bullet-proof otherwise it will fail at the first hurdle.


Something else to consider is that it is actually within the realm of possibility. As a trainer I’ve had people with extreme goals in their mind, such as losing a stone in a week. All the positive encouragement in the world will not complete that goal healthilty. Make sure that it is realistic.


Very important. Without a time limit or deadline then you might as well be not doing anything. Make sure it’s an appropriate deadline that you can reallistically stick too. Otherwise, as above, your goals will never work.


Can I workout at home?

The answer to this question is, Yes. You can. But there are benefits to attending a gym that cannot be always achieved through home workouts:

  1. The main benefit to a gym is that everything you need is there for you to use. The building has machines, weights, bands, medicine balls, kettlebells and more. These are all designed with a certain purpose in mind and each contribute to different aspects of the ‘Fitness continuum’.
  2. If your goal is to get strong or train for a particular event, such as triathlon, marathon etc. Then a gym may be the best place as it has all of the equipment (including a pool sometimes) that you need to achieve that goal. If you want to get strong then it is a must as unless you own your own gym, home workouts cannot supply the stimulus needed.
  3. There are like-minded people all around you, there is a generalisation that a gym is full of judgemental people, of course there are some. But for the most part a gym is full of people that all have a goal in mind, and it can be very refreshing to be surrounded by people who are closer and further away than you to the goal, whatever it may be.
  4. Personal Trainers are there to help, and most will be happy to help you with a quick question if you are not in mind to pay for their services, they can offer you with good exercises that you might not have used before, or a piece of equipment that you want to try, but don’t want to look like a fool trying.

Home workouts are picking up in popularity of late- with people choosing to use their own body weight or certain pieces of gym kit as stimulus. They have some benefits which I will list below:

  1. If you don’t enjoy a room full of sweating bodies- or crowded machines with people on their phones, then a nice workout in the comfort of your own home can be quite enticing. You can set your own intensity and have your own space. The only thing you need to have in both cases is Discipline.
  2. For older trainee’s who’s main need is just increasing a bit of strength or gaining balance then a home workout can be a good introduction to getting the body moving before you moved onto weights or swimming. It can also be a good confidence booster.
  3. If you struggle with the motivation to get up and go to the gym after a long day. Then it can be useful to try some home training. It is a good way to build habits- if you want more advice on habits then see my post How to (help) stay motivated

Whatever you choose to do, hopefully you can get moving soon, or if you already are: Keep it up!

Myth: Does Fat turn to Muscle?

The Myth

I was speaking to someone this week about their exercise habits. It occurred to me that very few people actually have knowledge of the fat to muscle relationship that regular trainees/trainers take for granted.

They said they couldn’t lift weights as they had very little fat on their body for the muscle to come from.

Let me be clear on this:

Fat and muscle are two different types of tissue.

Muscle and fat both derive from different components and their chemical make up is totally different to one another.

Muscle is mainly formed of proteins which interact with each other when a contraction takes place. Muscles are made up by millions of fibres. Which are turn controlled by a nervous stimulus.

Fat is made up of adipose tissue and doesn’t possess any nervous ability. It is a fuel source, albeit a harder one to use during exercise. Whereas muscle is not a fuel source.

If you are in a position where you want to build muscle but you have no fat, you are in a prime position. Because that means you haven’t got to worry about getting rid of excess fat and can concentrate on building the body you desire.

This is also true for the reverse. There’s no way for muscle to turn to fat. If you stop training then you may gain fat but your muscles will only atrophy which means they will get smaller.

If you find yourself in a position where you have fat and want to build muscle then again, you have no issue. Your programming will be different to the person described above. But you are still able to achieve the body you want. See my post on “EPOC training” for more information. This will give you a clear cut way of gearing you programming towards your goal!

Stretch or Bust?

Stretch. Good or Bad?

This has been a long discussed topic in my industry- coaches and therapists the world over have been offering their views on stretching since the creation of modern sports medicine in the 1950’s. So on that note- this is only another another view from myself as a coach. There are various scientific articles that you can read should you want to know more.

The Quick answer


It is an important part of a trainees’ routine and flexibility defined as “the ability for the bodys joints to be strong through their full range of motion”. With this is mind, it is important that flexibility is taken into account- otherwise you will not get stronger as intended.

Of course the image you may have is of people lifting one leg onto a park bench and painfully stretching their hamstring after a run. This is not necerssarily what needs to be done. There is a difference between dynamic flexibility and static flexibility. Also when each should be targeted.

Dynamic Flexibility

This can also be referred to as “movement efficiency”. How easy your body can move through its designated patterns. Can you squat, hip hinge etc. A decent flexibility session can be of a dynamic nature. It doesn’t have to be forcing your body through painful positions. Dynamic flexibility is encouraged before activity. You are preparing the joints to push beyond their range of motion during the session. Static flexibility is encouraged post exercise as this is when you focus on specific joints to encourage developments in active flexibility. An example video is shown below on the types of exercise you can include in a dynamic warm up.

Static Stretching has been shown to reduce force production in Athletics before exercise, with this is mind it makes sense to perform this type of stretching after exercise. Which is when we are more focused on repairing muscle tissue.


I hope this offers some useful information, if you have any other questions feel free to leave a comment.

Stress and the digestive system

Ever had a stressful day and felt like you’ve only wanted to eat bad foods? There is a reason for this and it’s actually to do with your nervous system producing too much of one particular stress hormone- cortisol.

Cortisol is the bodies’ reaction to stressful stimuli, which can be anything from exercise to having a very stressful job which you feel trapped in. The result will be an imbalance in your endocrine system- which means a big imblance in your daily life.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response? The bodies basic response to a perceived ‘danger’ or traumatic event, in this event two hormones are released, Adrenaline and Cortisol. These are the hormones that govern how your body behaves in such an event. They are also heavy somatic repressors, this means that while you are in such a state, the body will redirect all of its ‘resources’ to the primary goal, which could in this case be escaping a lion. While these hormones are present in the blood, you will not sleep, need food or drink and in extreme cases most of your other senses are put on hold. In short, Cortisol is a very destructive (but necessary) hormone and if not regulated properly it will continue to affect the bodies hormonal system.

Why is this important if you have a stressful job?

As explained above, if you are working long stressful hours- then your appetite will be significantly repressed. Meaning your body will crave junk food, this will in turn have a negative effect on your sleep patterns- as well as the hormones still in your body. Hydration will be affected which will in turn have an increased on your energy and sleep levels.

What’s the solution?

Obvioulsy the solution isn’t to walk away from your job tomorrow, as much as we would like to. If you have identified yourself through what you’ve read above- either feling constatnly lethargic or always tending to eat junk food, then I would recommend seeking further help from a nutrionist to help with this matter.

A quick fix that you can do at home is to make sure there is time for you, see my previous post on the “Pirate Map” which is about seeting yourself habits to ensure that you get a good balance of work and play. Also ensure you have regular intakes of water throughout the day and make an attempt at Nutritious food- perhaps have a meal prep day on the weekend which sets you up for the following week?

In regards to sleep, there is a great app called “Headspace” which may help you to regulate your stress levels a little bit before sleep, if you are looking at screens right up until the time you close your eyes then that will also have a negative effect on your sleep. Even in the busiest of lives there is always time for the things that are important.