My Coast Guard
Commentary | Feb. 25, 2022

Total Force Wellness: Set new military fitness goals for the year

By Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is written by the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP at the Uniformed Services University

We are still early in the New Year and it is still the perfect time to refocus your fitness goals. Take some time to make a plan to get back into shape or get a jump-start on prepping for the Body Composition program.

Identify fitness strengths and weaknesses

The first step to creating new fitness goals is to take stock of your current strengths and weaknesses. Identify areas where you do well, and think about areas where you would like to improve as you move left on the Human Performance Optimization spectrum. Perhaps you are physically strong, but can’t climb a flight of stairs without sucking wind (many have been down that road before). Or maybe you’d like to spend more time being active with your family. Making a list of these things is the place to start.

Set SMART goals for your military workouts

Next, create fitness-based goals that are specific, measurable, achievable or actionable, relevant, and time-sensitive, or SMART. Set both short and long-term goals. For example, if you want to pass the boat crew fitness test, that might not be achievable in six weeks if you don’t use a training program relevant to your current physical fitness level. In the short term, you might start with a goal of “I’ll improve my two-minute push-up performance by five push-ups in three weeks.” Your long-term goal might be “In July, I’ll take the boat crew test and perform the maximum number of push-ups.”  

It is okay and even encouraged to have several specific goals. This way, you can easily track your progress for each of them, rather than one vague goal of “maxing out the boat crew test,” whereas you might meet that goal in one component of the test but not come close in another.

List facilitators and barriers

A big part of creating a fitness habit is being aware of what are called “facilitators and barriers.” It’s about noticing which resources or habits are in place that foster or encourage you to meet your fitness goals (facilitators), and which hurdles you face (barriers). This way, you know up-front what stands in your way, so you can address it. For example, you can create the most meticulous, perfect training plan to improve your muscular strength. But wait, you don’t have access to the heavy gym equipment you need. That might be a deal breaker for some and cause them to drop that goal. Knowing barriers like this in advance helps you tailor your plan based on what’s available—and work around what gets in the way.

Make a training plan

Now that you have short and long-term goals, design an action plan to help you meet them. Remember to include your facilitators and address your barriers. If your goals require physical training, create a workout program that works for you. Try to be specific, but flexible. It will be good to know what you have available to you when it comes to time and equipment. But, you also don’t want to create a program that’s so rigid that if you don’t have time to work out, it kills your plan entirely. As with the rest of the military lifestyle, consider unexpected challenges that may get in the way.

Get to it!

You have your goals. You have your plan. Get to work! Check out our Physical Fitness Training Series to learn how to prepare for your weigh-ins and your service’s specific tests.