Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Performance Goals vs. Aesthetics Goals - What's Right for You?

Tiffany Lawson, MS, CHES

The key to any successful training program is goal setting. Goals provide direction, motivation and are important for measuring success.  But it’s the type of goals you set that have a huge influence on training program outcomes.

Often our goals are centered on our physical appearance, such as weight loss, losing body fat or gaining muscle. These are known as aesthetic goals and can be very motivating. But this type of goal can also quickly lead to disappointment when you don’t get the results you were hoping for. Aesthetic goals can also be subjective and difficult to measure. For instance, an aesthetic goal of weight loss may not be the best indicator for measuring progress because it doesn’t tell you how much fat you have lost or how much muscle you have gained. Your muscle mass could increase, but your weight may not decrease which could lead to frustration.

Performance goals can include increasing strength, aerobic or muscular endurance, speed, stability, mobility, agility or power. They can also be skill-based like mastering an exercise such as a pull up. Unlike aesthetic goals, performance goals are generally objective and measurable. For performance goals, it’s easy to measure performance by tracking the amount of resistance used, time to completion or distance completed.

Examples of performance goals:

  • Perform 1 pull up
  • Perform 10 consecutive pushups or squats (using correct form)
  • Run a mile in under 10 minutes
  • Complete a 5k in 40 minutes
  • Deadlift your bodyweight

To get the most out of your training program, set performance goals and set them often. Focus your attention on how well you perform, and you will likely see changes in your physical appearance. Find something you would like to improve, and start setting your performance goals today!

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