Should coaches create goals for their clients?

Should coaches create goals for their clients?

Understanding the importance of creating realistic goals with your clients:

As a personal trainer, it’s important for my clients to see tangible results. I set them up for success by educating them about the importance of creating realistic goals based on their lifestyle and current fitness level.

The more specific the goal, the better the exercise program design.

If a client’s goal is too general, then I personally find it difficult to design a program. The value of personal training lies in the ability to customize programs for measurable goals.

Let’s use the goal of “toning” as an example. This is a very common weight loss goal cited by clients.

When I hear a client say they want to get “toned,” I use it as an opportunity to educate them and to use the buzz word “toned” to help them create a S.M.A.R.T goal.

A quick review of the S.M.A.R.T. principle in relation to goal setting:

Is the goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely?
Toning is not a S.M.A.R.T. goal!

How can we make it into a S.M.A.R.T. goal? My first question would be to ask them “how much fat loss would you like to achieve for the long term?”. Their answer will lead me to explain the need to do a fat loss composition test which will provide us with a baseline. I would also explain the difference between weight loss (losing both lean muscle and fat) versus fat loss (preserve lean muscle mass). This conversation ties into the exercise selection needed for fat loss.

After we establish a measurable goal, I proceed with a thorough fitness assessment, and identify their weekly realistic commitment for physical activity.

I now have the information needed to create a customized result driven program.

I can even explain their weekly expected weight loss and how long it will take to achieve their long-term goal.

The best part of the process of creating specific goals is the conversation about the science of weight loss and behavior modification. I also stress to them that there is a learning curve. However, with my professional guidance, support and their participation we can achieve it.

Far too often, clients set unrealistic goals for themselves based on misinformation or not understanding how to optimize their efforts.

With all clients, I envision what is possible and help them to achieve their goals through exercise science.

The starting point is always setting S.M.A.R.T. goals followed by providing them with an amazing coaching experience.



Julio Salado

I am a native of Boston, MA., and the founder of, a leading online resource for health and wellness. For over a decade, I have guided countless individuals from all levels of fitness to achieve their body sculpting and personal training goals. I am also an educator and continuing education provider.

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