The Ultimate Guide To Setting Goals in Calisthenics

Setting goals in calisthenics can be a highly effective way to stay motivated and make progress in your training. No matter what stage of your practice you are at, setting clear and attainable goals will make it easier to stay focused and stay on track. This blog article will explore everything you need to know about setting goals in calisthenics.

1. Pick Goals That Align With Your Interests.

When embarking on goal setting, the initial step is to determine the direction for your training. Within calisthenics, there is a wide range of possible goals. Let’s explore some of the common types of calisthenics goals you can pursue:

  1. Strength Goals: The first type of goals focuses on building muscular strength and power. Examples include adding weight to pull ups, dips, push ups, or mastering advanced movements like front lever or one-arm pull-ups.
  2. Skill-Based Goals: The second category of calisthenics goals involves mastering intricate bodyweight movements that require skill and coordination. Skill-based goals could include achieving a freestanding handstand.
  3. Body Composition Goals: The third and last category is Body Composition Goals. Lets be honest for a second here, we all want to look good. Reducing body fat percentage, building defined muscles, or improving overall body composition are common goals realted to this catergory.

These are just a few examples of common types of calisthenics goals, many other options exist. Select different types of goals that align with your interests, that way you will have an easier time staying committed to your goals.

2.  Use SMART goals to set effective and achievable goals

SMART goals are a popular framework used to set effective and achievable goals. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Let’s break down each element:

  1. Specific: A goal should be clear and well-defined. Avoid vague or ambiguous statements. Instead, state precisely what you want to achieve. Specificity helps you stay focused and provides a clear direction for your efforts. For example, “I want to be able to perform 10 consecutive pull-ups” is a specific calisthenics goal.
  2. Measurable: A measurable goal is one that can be quantified and tracked. This allows you to monitor your progress and determine whether you’ve achieved the objective. Using numbers or concrete criteria makes a goal measurable. In the previous example, the ability to measure progress makes it measurable – you can track how many consecutive pull-ups you can currently do and work toward the target of 10.
  3. Achievable: While it’s essential to challenge yourself, setting unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and disappointment. Ensure that your goal is attainable based on your current abilities, resources, and time available. Assess your starting point and set a target that is challenging yet realistically achievable with dedication and effort.
  4. Relevant: Your goal should align with your overall objectives and be relevant to your interests, values, or aspirations. Ensure that the goal is meaningful to you, as this will increase your motivation and commitment to achieving it. Setting a relevant goal in calisthenics might involve choosing exercises that align with your desired fitness outcomes or performance goals.
  5. Time-bound: A time-bound goal has a specific deadline or time frame for achievement. This adds a sense of urgency and helps prevent procrastination. It also allows you to set milestones and track your progress over time. For example, “I want to achieve 10 consecutive pull-ups within the next 3 months” sets a clear timeline for the goal.

Remember to regularly review and adjust your goals as you make progress or encounter new challenges.

3. Set High-Quality Calisthenics Goals

It is important to set goals that are well-defined and measurable. Below I have provided some examples of low-quality goals and some high-quality goals, so you can avoid common pitfalls and set high-quality goals.

Examples of low-quality goals 

1. “Get a six-pack in two weeks.”

  • Issue: This goal sets an unrealistic time frame for achieving visible abdominal muscles. Building a six-pack requires a combination of low body fat and well-developed abdominal muscles, which may take longer than two weeks.

2. “Get better at dips.”

  • This goal is considered low-quality because it lacks specificity, measurability, and a clear timeframe. It’s too vague and does not provide any details about what “getting better” means.

Examples of high-quality goals

1: Perform 5 consecutive strict pull-ups.

  • Specific: The goal is clear – to perform 5 strict pull-ups without kipping or swinging.
  • Measurable: The number of pull-ups achieved can be counted and measured.

2: Hold a freestanding handstand for 20 seconds.

  • Specific: The goal is to hold a handstand without support for 20 seconds.
  • Measurable: The time spent in the handstand can be measured with a stopwatch or by recording yourself (which you should do anyways).

4. Break down your long-term goals into short-term goals

Let’s say your long-term goal is to perform 10 consecutive pull-ups, and you want to break it down into short-term goals. By completing these short-term objectives one by one, you make steady progress towards your long-term goal while remaining focused and motivated along the way. Here’s how you can go about doing it:

Long-Term Goal: Let’s assume our long-term goal is to perform 10 Consecutive Pull-Ups

Short-Term Goals: We can split our long-term goals into serval short-term goals

  • Short-Term Goal 1: Increase Pull-Up Strength
    • Objective: Build strength in the muscles involved in pull-ups.
    • Actions: Perform assisted pull-ups, negative pull-ups (lowering phase), and focus on improving grip strength.
  • Short-Term Goal 2: Perform 1 Unassisted Pull-Up
    • Objective: Be able to do one complete pull-up without assistance.
    • Actions: Continue practicing assisted and negative pull-ups, work on eccentric (lowering) portion, and use resistance bands if needed.
  • Short-Term Goal 3: Increase Repetitions
    • Objective: Increase the number of consecutive pull-ups gradually.
    • Actions: Work on sets of 2-3 pull-ups, with short rest intervals. Aim to increase repetitions in each training session.
  • Short-Term Goal 4: Achieve 5 Consecutive Pull-Ups
    • Objective: Build the stamina and strength to perform a significant number of pull-ups consecutively.
    • Actions: Continue progressing with pull-ups, focusing on sets of 3-4 reps, and gradually working towards 5 consecutive reps.
  • Short-Term Goal 5: Perform 8 Consecutive Pull-Ups
    • Objective: Get closer to the long-term goal by increasing the number of consecutive pull-ups.
    • Actions: Continue working on sets of 5-6 reps, gradually increasing repetitions, and minimizing rest between sets.
  • Short-Term Goal 6: Improve Technique and Form
    • Objective: Ensure proper execution of pull-ups to avoid any compensation or injury.
    • Actions: Focus on maintaining strict form throughout each repetition, emphasizing full range of motion and controlled movements.
  • Short-Term Goal 7: Achieve 10 Consecutive Pull-Ups
    • Objective: Reach the long-term goal of performing 10 pull-ups in a row.
    • Actions: Continue training with the previous short-term goals in mind, and celebrate the accomplishment of achieving 10 consecutive pull-ups.

Breaking down long-term goals into short-term goals is essential as it enables you to monitor your progress, celebrate milestones, and stay motivated throughout your calisthenics journey. Keep in mind that consistent effort and unwavering dedication are the cornerstones of success when working towards achieving your calisthenics goals.

5. Always remember to write down your goals!

Writing down your goals is a practical and effective way to increase your chances of success. The act of writing stimulates your brain differently than just thinking about your goals. It reinforces your commitment and helps your brain retain the information more effectively. As you make progress, you can mark off or update your written goals, giving you a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to keep going.

Final thoughts

As a general guideline, having 2-5 well-defined goals at a time is a practical approach. This allows you to focus your energy, and track progress effectively. For those aiming to achieve specific calisthenics strength skills like the planche and front lever, it is recommended to select one pulling exercise and one pushing exercise.

Regularly reassess your goals and adjust them as you progress and evolve in your training. Celebrate each milestone and acknowledge the progress you make, even if it’s small. Be patient with yourself, as calisthenics takes a lot of time and dedication, and progress may not always be linear.

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