How do you set goals for strength, endurance, and cardiovascular improvement?
I'm looking for some good research backed guidelines for the percentage of improvement one can expect to see during a training program. I've heard 10% every two weeks for strength gains, but this is clearly a low estimate when it comes to clients new to exercise, or on a new program. Does anyone have any good resources? If not, how do you set goals? I'm looking to set goals using the SMART format for cardio and strength measures.
I find that it depends a lot on the client on how you set goals. As much as I like the SMART concept, it makes is equally evident if goals are not met. I have worked with enough clients who are very goal driven but who would also view themselves a failures for not meeting them.
For athletes, goals of strength gain, cardio or flexibility may be fine. For others, a goal could be cardio three times a week, longer duration, or similar parameters.
The most important letter in SMART is the A for 'attainable'.
Like Karin said, it depends on the client how this format will be set up. Beyond that it also depends on the environment the training will be taking place, the determination of the client, any medical injuries/limitations, the fitness level of the client, etc. So the 10% improvement every 2 weeks that you've mentioned it can be vary from client to client and case to case.
And because every client is different, I don't set specific time frames for them to achieve a specific goal, but instead I keep adjusting their training and their short term goals according to the progress they make. A good and accurate fitness assessment helps me determine their next step in the process. I try to set as realistic goals as possible for them, because otherwise they will be chasing something that can be hard or impossible to get and then give up. Every trainer has different approach so you might get different responses.
Goals are absolutely important, but I encourage clients not just to focus on pounds, inches, and percentages. I teach them how to notice their sleep habits, resilience to stress, energy level throughout the day, etc.