The Level Up Challenge: The Science of Setting Good Goals & The Art of Completing Them


Fitness is important to a healthy, longer, and ultimately happier life. It's an undeniable fact that moving in meaningful ways can not only make our bodies healthier but also help prevent dozens of chronic health issues that plague the US. However as important it is to have concrete goals for ourselves in our pursuit for healthier and fitter bodies, many of us have a hard time setting good goals. I will never forget this quote I heard while I was doing the Daniel Plan challenge, however I have completely forgot the author, that “Goals are dreams with a deadline.” Leg that sink in real quick. Read it again and then continue reading after a minute.

"Goals are dreams with a deadline”

Now before I go off issuing this neat challenge that I'm doing myself we have to have a serious talk about what goals are and how to set good goals.

Whether you're an athlete or a couch potato or like me somewhere in between like me; you have to set good goals for yourself in order to make the progress you need/want. The Daniel Plan book has a great list of criteria for good goals and it will help discipline yourself with good, consistent, and most importantly challenging goals. Here are some important factors to consider when writing up your goals.

(That last sentence was a bit of a hint…)

Write your goals down. These are your life goals, the body fat percentage you want to be or that competition you want to win. This is the challenge sheet. It is your biggest critic because it is you. This is meant to be the challenge factor for yourself, this list is the better you. Let it make you angry, let it make you cry, let it make you happy when you realize that you just marked something off that list!

Start small (aim small miss small) this is a different list, it's the stepping stone to marking things off the big list. If you have your big list on a piece of paper than this list is on a post-it note.

Don't set grand goals just yet, just challenge yourself a little.

Don't set long term goals yet either, set a goal for the next week or the end of the month so you don't forget about it.

Start with 1-3 goals no more than 3 to start.

Be honest. Separate realistic goals not long term dreams.

Review your goals.

Are the small goals you have now 3 things?

Short term - no more than 1 month away.

Achievable - challenging but not grand.

Purposeful - does achieving these goals help you to accomplish the larger goals that you've written down?

If any of your stepping stone goals are not ALL THREE of these than erase it and make a new one, or just stick with the ones that do.

Level up challenge let's answer some very important questions.

Why small goals?

The biggest problem with New Year's resolutions is that often they really just dreams and not goals. They are more grand than we are often willing to admit and they have either long deadlines (the next year) or none at all. Make no mistake the big list that you've made are probably dreams right now for you. Sorry not sorry. The big list is not stuff that you're just gonna get up and do. However if you managed to make good achievable goals that you can work on and complete by their deadlines than you are one more step closer to your ‘big list. By taking these small steps you will become more confident and encouraged by the fact that you are completing goals! No matter how small they are you are doing something and you are challenging yourself with new goals that push you a little bit more!

The gift of competition!

As a crossfitter I love competition! I love the white board because I see a challenging WOD and I see all my fellow crossfitters times. As soon as I see those times I find one and I make myself beat it. Competition drives us. It's a fact. That's why we like competitive shooters, that's why we like winning, and that's why millions of people each year watch on the edge of their seats to see the best football teams at the Super Bowl. We love competition! My favorite of course is the Crossfit Games where the winners get to call themselves the fittest man or woman on earth.

Challenges and competition drives us to be better at everything! That's why winning is so addictive and losing drives us to do better next time.

I learned this not too long ago when I had to do a WOD beside a fellow crossfitter. The WOD was simple and fast.



DB Power Clean


The workout was fast, a mad sprint of will! I love and hated every second of it but in the end I put 4:01 on the board and was the second fastest man on it. Then the competitors at the gym did it and wiped my time off the board. This past week I decided that I would beat my own time at least. I didn't say I'll beat 3 minutes, I simply wanted to improve on my own effort. 2 minutes and 51 seconds later I was huffing and puffing on the outside and doing my victory dance on the inside. Many people forget that the best competition can be with ourselves. Whether you will compete with a friend or with yourself this challenge will help you improve no matter what!

The Level Up challenge

The Level Up challenge works off of your own baseline abilities by having you do a specific exercise first and then using that as a baseline for improvement. Here's how it works.

An exercise is picked each week. These are often bodyweight exercises where you will count the number of unbroken reps. Start by making your baseline, this is level 0. The next steps are easy (no they aren't but they're easy to write). Work. Get better.  Repeat steps 2 & 3 until death. The great thing about this model is that you can constantly challenge yourself and compete with others too. It doesn't matter if David can do 100 unbroken pull-ups like the majestic man hunk he is, because that is just as challenging for him as my 5 are for me. So here's what it looks like.

Push-ups - David (example)

Level 0 - 24 (Baseline)

Level 1 (1.5x) - 36

Level 2 (2x) - 48

Level 3 (2.5x) - 60

Level 4 (3x) - 72

Level 5 (4x) - 96

Of course you can keep leveling up as far as you want but I'm sure you get the idea. This is a great way to push yourself in small steps and the ability to compete against yourself and friends, regardless of skill level.

Have fun making your gains and pushing through your goals! Until next time...


Blake Jenkins

What's up nerds!!! This community is awesome! I've loved writing since I started college and I've loved video games since I was born! (almost true I started on my dad's NES when I was 4) So I decided why not do both, so I started a Youtube channel. Check it out here and give me a thumbs up! It's only a little sad I promise.


Blake Jenkins

What's up nerds!!! I'm Blake Jenkins, and this community is awesome! I've loved writing since I started college and I've loved video games since I was born! (almost true I started on my dad's NES when I was 4) So I decided why not do both, so I started a Youtube channel. Check it out and give me a thumbs up! It's only a little sad I promise ;)!