7 Fitness Goals That Basically Guarantee Failure

When it comes to getting in shape, it’s best to set some goals for yourself. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or gain muscle, setting concrete goals is a key to ensuring success. But what happens when those goals become too unreachable? The fact of the matter is, some very common fitness goals are so overly ambitious that they set you up for failure before you even start. Here are seven popular fitness goals that pretty much guarantee failure.

1. Getting your stomach completely flat

Sporty young woman lying on exercise mat doing sit-ups

Even someone with six-pack abs doesn’t have a completely flat stomach. | iStock.com/Jacob Ammentorp Lund

One of the most popular fitness goals out there is to achieve the perfect stomach — often one so flat that it doesn’t even pooch out past your hipbones. But this common fitness goal is also almost completely unobtainable. As Shape points out, it’s difficult to make your stomach concave — it will naturally pooch out if you have eaten and crunches won’t do anything. And though extreme dieting might seem like an option for getting a smaller midsection, not eating enough leads to malnutrition and other health issues. There is literally no way to win this fitness battle, ultimately setting you up for failure.

Solution: Instead of focusing on making your stomach unrealistically flat, focus on making it toned. WebMD recommends incorporating all-over body workouts to help burn more fat, and fix your posture (since slouching can cause your stomach to stick out more).

2. Training for a marathon in just a month

exhausted sport woman running outdoors

Only giving yourself a couple weeks to train will not get you marathon-ready. | iStock.com/OcusFocus

Whether you run one every year or want to try it out for the first time, running a marathon is a badge of honor in the fitness world. Planning for it, however, is a much more extensive process than many people like to believe. And one of the most common mistakes prospective marathon runners make is only giving themselves three or four weeks to train. As running coach Jenny Hadfield tells Runner’s World, training for a marathon can take anywhere from 16 to 30 weeks. Anything less than that, and you are really just setting yourself up to perform poorly.

Solution: All it takes is some extra planning. Give yourself plenty of time ahead of a marathon to train properly without wearing yourself out.

3. Getting a thigh gap

lunging with weights

It’s better to have strong legs than a thigh gap. | iStock.com

Runway models with long, skinny legs have made all of us desire a gap between our legs in the upper thigh area. But while trimming and toning your legs is doable, creating a thigh gap is not. At least, not unless you have the bone structure for it. “Unless you’re genetically wide-hipped, you shouldn’t have a gap,” Vonda Wright, M.D. tells Shape. Plus, those wanting to slim down their stems end up neglecting resistance training and working their leg muscles properly. “Skinny is not always fit or strong,” Wright continues.

Solution: Let go of the gap obsession and embrace a complete lower body workout. These ones will help you get your legs into great shape — even if they still rub together a bit when you walk.

4. Gaining 10 pounds of muscle, fast

Man showing his back muscles

Want to bulk up? You have to be realistic about your muscle goals. | iStock.com

When it comes to building up muscle, many people are impatient. This is when unrealistic muscle-building goals happen, and fitness schemes claiming to help you put on 10 pounds of muscle at a rapid rate become appealing. The problem is that our muscles don’t grow according to a short and steady time table. “You may be able to gain one pound a week when you initialize a new training regimen, but this rate of muscle growth is likely to taper off,” Livestrong.com explains. So no matter how much iron you pump, this fitness goal is unattainable.

Solution: Instead of focusing on a number of pounds gained, focus on doing a complete weight lifting regimen and structuring your diet to have more protein. Men’s Fitness admits that “bulking up the right way is a challenge,” but it can be done.

5. Quickly dropping 20 pounds, or more

Teenage Girl Sitting On Floor

It’s not you, it’s your unrealistic goal of losing a ton of weight. | iStock.com/Highwaystarz-Photography

There’s probably nothing more disheartening than a weight loss goal you can’t seem to reach. As it turns out, this habit of setting unreachable weight loss goals is incredibly common. “Shows like The Biggest Loser give people the idea that weight loss happens fast and dramatically,” Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D. tells Women’s Health. “I see so many women in my private practice for weight loss, and no matter their age, most have unreasonable weight-loss goals.”

Solution: WebMD suggests breaking a big weight loss plan down into smaller, more reachable steps. “To help keep you motivated toward meeting your ultimate goal, set mini-goals you can reach within a month or so,” the story says.

6. Taking on a high-intensity regimen when you aren’t used to it

Man tired from working out

A high-intensity workout doesn’t do you any good if you are too burned out to perform it. | iStock.com

The home workout craze has reached new heights thanks to options like P90X, which makes reaching extreme fitness goals without being the newbie at the gym seem doable. But some, like “Max Workouts” require a five- or six-day a week commitment and are better suited for someone who has already reached peak physical fitness. For everyone else, there’s a higher likelihood of getting injured.

“Overtraining — or improperly training — will get you in trouble no matter what your fitness pursuit,” Women’s Health says. “Pushing yourself is good — it’s what makes you fitter. Pushing past your limits however, is just, well, not smart.” Plus, once you get hurt, you won’t be able to exercise. And then you really won’t reach you fitness goals.

Solution: Even if you want to take on a heavy workout load, you have to give yourself time to rest. You will decrease the chances of getting injured, and be able to stay on track.

7. Quickly dropping a dress size by taking low-impact classes

transition from downward-facing dog to another move

Getting your “om” on doesn’t shed as much weight as you might think. | Pixabay

Don’t get us wrong — you can definitely get in shape taking yoga or any other low-impact exercise class. Still, it isn’t very likely that taking one of these classes is going to help you drop as much weight as you think. “While you can definitely shed pounds doing yoga regularly, adding yoga to your workout routine isn’t a guarantee you’ll lose weight,” FitDay summarizes.

Solution: Women’s Health suggests scheduling strength training around the yoga classes that you’re already taking.