By PT Manager Craig Danks
In this article I’m going to discuss the importance of tracking your training and physical appearance. There is still too many people hitting the gym really hard and gaining very little results, and the reason is simple; if you’re not tracking your diet, training or physical changes, how can you possibly know what to change in your training program? How can you know if you are consuming too few or too many calories? How do you know if you are losing body fat or changing body shape without tracking your progress?
Here are the best ways to track yourself:
Tracking your training
- Exercise selection should change as you progress. Your body adapts to exercise very quickly therefore, every 4 weeks, I recommend changing your training program. In that 4 weeks period you can increase the weight, intensity of your workout and later change that routine when your body adapts to be able to progress further. For example, a beginner may not be able to do a barbell squat to start off, they may need to start off with a body weight box squat then progress to a body weight squat, then to a barbell squat.
- Equipment will change from week to week, month to month. The first 4 weeks of your program you may do body weight exercises, from 4 to 8 weeks introduce machines and then 8 to 12 weeks you could be using a mixture of exercises such as body weight, machines and free weights. It is important to track what exercises you are doing to be able to change it up for the next 4 weeks.
- Grip/Hold variation. There’s more than one way to hold an implement (ex: barbell, DB, cable handle, etc.) and each way has a different purpose, intent, and difficulty level. It’s important to mix up the grip in certain exercises like the chin up and row, and mix it up as you progress or lift heavier weight, like the deadlift.
- Weights. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Lifting heavier weights in the prescribed rep range makes an exercise more intense/difficult/progressed.
- Reps and sets. Reps and sets can change either when moving to the next phase or to a next program in a training plan, or from day to day, depending on the clients’ goal and response level. Reps and sets is one of the most common manipulated variants in a training program.
Tracking your body
Most people, male or female, starting their fitness journey will have a physical goal. Whether it’s to lose body fat, to tone up, or to put muscle on, we need to track the stats for the goals to be achieved. This part is important, but be careful of not being obsessed ! Every 2-4 weeks we need to make sure we are making progress and I’m not saying jump on the scales every day or constantly take measurements, what I mean is to take progress pictures and measurements every couple of weeks to keep track of your changes.
- Pictures. We see ourselves in the mirror probably every day but we don’t notice our own physical changes. By taking progress from the front, side and rear of our bodies every couple of weeks, we can see visual results. If you take a picture of day 1 and compare the picture to completion of week 12 there should be a massive comparison; providing you have worked hard on your training and your nutrition. Progress picture is a great motivational tool. Yes, I know, the first picture hurts your self pride but you will feel amazing looking back at your results, trust me.
- Measurements. Scale weight is optional, and I recommend to only weigh yourself once a week maximum because the scale tends to mess with people’s heads as its numbers don’t always make sense in terms of progress. For example – A client may have come in and trained resistance training for 8 weeks but stayed the same weight on the scales. The client thinks he has made zero progress but when we do the body fat percentage and measurements it becomes clear that he has lost body fat and decreased in waist and hip measurements. The reason the weight stayed the same is because the client gained lean muscle which weights more than fat.
Tracking your nutrition
Not only does a food journal tells you the total calories you are eating, but you can also figure out how many more, or less calories you are eating relative to your calorie burn. If you eat more calories than what you are burning, you will gain weight, and if you eat less calories you will lose weight. Calculating your calorie burn can be a little tricky, so I will provide another article on this topic in the near future. For most people the basic calorie burn equations work pretty well, and you can use apps such as My Fitness Pal to track your calorie and macro’s intake.
Not everyone has the knowledge or motivation to be able to do this consistently. Our Spectrum Fitness Personal Trainers have got structures in place to be able to monitor your progress. We have 12 weeks transformation programs which are tailored for your goals in Fat loss, Strength and Hypertrophy training. Contact us today to begin your fitness transformation.