How to Track Your Progress At The Gym To See Results!
Are you trying to lose weight but it seems like no matter what you do you can’t seem to reach your goal?
If you’ve ever had a personal trainer I am sure you noticed they had some system in place to track your progress. In order to get to your goal you first have to know what your goal is, and where you are at now.
Let’s use and example
If your goal is to be able to do 10 push-ups but you have never tried one, there is no way of knowing how hard you need to work in order to get to this goal. Lets say you have been killing it in the gym you are doing bench press, cable crossovers, pec-deck, and the like, to build strength to improve your chest strength assuming it will help push-up numbers, but you never actually do a push up to train. How are you supposed to know how close you’re getting to your goal?
If your goal is just to “get stronger” You will probably give up on your routine altogether. How do you know if you’re making progress if you aren’t sure how strong you are now, or how strong you’re trying to be?
I want to tell you a few things you can keep track of so that you know you are making progress toward your goal.
What should you be keeping track of?
- Food intake
- Energy expenditure (exercise)
- Cardio improvements
- Fat Reduction (not necessarily with the scale!)
Let’s start with the food
Write down everything you eat or drink. Meals. Snacks. Soda. Candy. If it ends up in your belly, it goes on the paper. If you are tech savvy you can download a food tracking app such as My Fitness Pal, although paper and pen work just fine too. The point here is to realize exactly how much, or little, you are really eating.
The American Journal of Preventative Medicine did a study and found that the accountability and awareness that comes from tracking your food intake can help you shed up to DOUBLE the pounds, than if you don’t track.
You can’t out run your diet! If you eat like crap, you’re going to feel like crap, and most likely exercise like crap, and probably feel like you look kind of crappy too.
What is Energy expenditure?
Energy expenditure is how many calories you’re burning. This includes your body’s normal processes as well as any extra activities you do. Since your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE for short, is about the same each day for things like staying alive and going to work, you only really need to track extra energy you burn, like going to the gym.
If you are looking to get leaner, faster, skinnier, bigger, or change your appearance in any way, you’re going to have to either pay for it, or work for it. (Let me just tell you, you’ll look younger and feel better if you work for it!) So lace up those trainers and get to work!
So, how do you track these extra burned calories?
Well, it’s no surprise here, you do it much in the same way as you track your food intake. Write it down or get an app. My Fitness Pal has an option for tracking exercise but I much prefer Fitocracy for fitness tracking if you must have an app for that. This site is unique because not only can you keep track of what you’ve done, but you get points and level up for accomplishing your goals.
If you want to keep it simple, and start immediately, CLICK HERE to download my free workout log PDF. I’ve included an example, and a blank sheet you can print out and take with you to the gym. Fill it out as you go and next time you come in you will know exactly what you need to do to be better than before.
You can log your cardio improvements by keeping track of the speed, distance, or time you were able to keep going.
Now for the evil Fat Reduction…
The thing everyone dreads!
Well, first things first, do you want to lose weight or lose fat? They aren’t the same, and if you don’t know why you should prefer fat loss over weight loss let me tell you:
- When you’re overweight it’s almost always from extra fat
- Keeping muscle while losing fat will make your metabolism speed up, allowing you to eat a little more
- Muscles help keep your bones strong
- You’ll live longer
- Having more skeletal muscle will help your body make more insulin receptors and make it easier to minimize body fat
What’s that you say? More muscle will make it easier to lose fat? How come nobody talks about this? Everyone is so obsessed with being skinny, but being skinny makes it really difficult to stay that way. Having a little muscle will also help you shape your body the way you want it. (You do know your butt muscle is the largest muscle in your body, right? You want a perky round butt? You CAN have one, no need to be genetically blessed or get injections!)
Fat loss is the MOST DIFFICULT thing to track.
Sorry guys. There is no easy way to track this. You can use calipers, special scales, water displacement, or body scans but they all have a margin of error, so your best bet is to just eyeball it.
- Take regular progress pictures
- Keep a note of how your clothes fit
- Take measurements with a measuring tape
I would say pictures are probably going to be the most valuable tool you can use. You can always place pictures side by side and see the difference even when you can’t see it in the mirror.
Here is an example, look at the back of her arm and how the shirt fits, you can tell she has lost some fat! But her weight is almost the same in both pictures!
Even minor changes can have a profound effect on the results you see. So make sure you are keeping track of your progress!
Get my FREE workout log by clicking the link below! Start tracking today.
featured photo credit: costculator.com/concept-2-model-d-review/