What’s The Best Way To Keep Track Of Your Progress?
If you’re finally serious about getting a great body, increasing your strength and endurance and ultimately improving your health, it’s going to take much more than just getting a gym subscription. One of the most important aspects of any workout isn’t just that you work hard and break a sweat; it’s also having a good plan, and sticking to it. Among other things, this means properly tracking the progress of your workouts, so you know how to alter them as time goes by and you start improving and getting stronger. To make things easier for you, we’ve come up with a short guide comprised of a few general guideline that are very important for you to follow if you want to track your progress the right way, and start seeing some serious results.
How Often Should You Measure Yourself?
We often hear newcomers at the gym say how they’re frustrated with their progress, saying things like “I’ve been working out for a month and have barely lost any weight at all”, and this leads many people to quit shortly after they join. What you’ve got to realize if you’re a beginner is that you simply aren’t going to be noticing any significant progress right away; it’s a process that takes a certain amount of time, and even then you’re probably going to see less than you were hoping for.
It’s a waste of time, energy and motivation to step on the scale every day and expect an improvement, and in all honesty there’s no need to do it more than once or twice a month. If you intend to stay consistent with your workouts and not quit, you shouldn’t have to worry about progressing further; it’s inevitable, and it only depends on how much you work. All you have to do is stay in the gym, and results will happen. When they do, all you have to do is document them properly.
Should You Use Scales?
Measuring your weight is still the most popular way of tracking weight-loss progress, and many people (including serious athletes) depend upon it as the go-to method of doing this. However, the truth is that the scale is far from perfect, as all it does is measure a number that can depend on a huge number of factors, and can therefore be pretty non-representative to your actual progress. For example, you weigh more at night than in the morning, more after a meal than before it, and a bit more just before you go to the bathroom. These are small differences, but when you want to lose weight they seem as drastic as they come.
What’s more, in the first few days of many diets it’s quite common for people to lose some of the water in their bodies and therefore shed a significant amount of weight (up to five pounds), which is quite a motivating thing. The problem is that once this degree of weight loss doesn’t continue, people think they’ve reached a plateau and they start getting discouraged. That’s why I’m generally against using scales, and instead I suggest going for more tangible, direct measures. Just take some measuring tape and measure around your belly, your arms, and your chest once or twice a month, and write down how much you’ve actually shrunk in size. It’s a much more consistent way of measuring your weight-loss, and will give you more honest results than a scale any day.
Tracking Your Workouts
The point of weight-training at the gym is to force your muscles to tear and rebuild themselves, ultimately becoming significantly stronger (and bigger) than before. You do this by constantly increasing the weight you lift, the intensity of the workout, the number of sets/reps, and so on. In order to adequately do this, not burn yourself out too much and risk unnecessary injury, it’s essential that you document and write down your exact workout every time, so you can plan on how you’re going to make yourself progress further.
These days, it’s very easy to do this with a good fitness app that you can install on your smartphone or tablet, and it saves you the trouble of having to bring a pen and notebook to the gym. There are dozens of fantastic apps out there, and these days they even sync with Android and Apple Smartwatches, which makes the whole thing even easier. Some apps such as Rithmio Edge can actually use the information in your smartwatch to count your reps and even attempt to correct your form, so you don’t injure yourself. Just note that if you tend to connect to public Wi-Fi at the gym, you might need a VPN in order to make your connection more secure and private, as most fitness apps tend to be a bit insecure.
Michael Conley is a 35-year-old digital security specialist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has been writing for 9to5alternatives.com since 2013. Besides computer programming, his passions in life are winemaking, old movies and playing the saxophone.