4 Ways to Track Progress and Get Results in the Gym
It has never been more popular to record, track and share our workouts with everyone online.
There are a number of ways that you can monitor your progress when you’re exercising and want to ensure you continue to get fitter, better, stronger etc.
A lot of people solely rely on scale weight which isn’t always an accurate representation of you making progress in your fitness.The scales can fluctuate based on a number of different factors, and as a general rule of thumb I avoid asking my clients to weigh themselves.
Instead we can look at other ways for clients to track their progress with me either online or face to face. None are perfect or 100% accurate by any means but these are the 4 main ways coaches and personal trainers monitor and measure progress and the benefits and pitfalls of each.
This one is my least favourite and something I never use or encourage with clients (not sure if you could tell that from my into). Clients can become very attached with scale weight and allowing this number to determine progress can be a very rocky road.
Our weight fluctuates for many reasons other that weight gained or lost. Muscle weight v’s fat weight is also a factor that cannot be determined by stepping on the scales alone.
As accuracy goes, it doesn’t rank highly.
If this is your preferred measurement my advice would be always use the same scales to avoid mismatched readings. Even if your scales aren’t accurate, at least the inaccuracy will remain the same.
Weigh yourself at the same time of day wearing the same thing and give yourself weeks before weigh ins. Daily scale checks are not good for anybody.
If you start working with a personal trainer and they want to weigh you, you have the option to say no and ask for another method of measuring progress. I work with a number of clients who have been open enough to admit that the thought of coming to a session to be weighed regularly would make them feel very anxious and unhappy. You are allowed to say you don’t want that.
Measurements, taken with a measuring tape around your legs, hips, stomach, bum etc. can be a great way of showing that you’re losing weight and toning up. The same rules apply with this one, make sure you’re always measuring in the same place so that you’re getting an accurate reading. I’d recommend that you give your body a couple of weeks in between measurements.
Remember that again this will see bigger results initially in those first couple of months, don’t be disheartened when the numbers don’t change as drastically as time goes on.
This doesn’t mean you’re not still making progress and getting fitter. Remember, the fitter you get the harder you have to work to keep gaining results.
Taking photographs of yourself can be a great way of showing you progress even if the scales or the measuring tape doesn’t seem to be changing. You’ll be able to see the tone and definition in your body and many clients feel that they see a complete transformation in their body shape when they use pictures.
This has also become an increasingly popular way for PT's to demonstrate their skills when working with people. However, not all clients are comfortable with this so as a trainer you should air of the side of caution and make sure your client is happy for you to take, keep and share those images online.
Here’s my advice, once you take the photos store them away somewhere and don’t keep obsessively looking at them and being critical of yourself. Take photos again after 4 weeks, this will ensure you see a clear change in your body assuming you’ve been consistent with your exercise and nutrition. Try and take the photographs at the same time of day and in the same location with similar lighting etc. That way you’ll get a more accurate comparison.
Keeping a track of the weights your lifting, what cardio you are doing and any personal bests is my absolute favourite way of measuring progress. This has nothing to do with what you see and everything to do with what your body is capable of. What better way to show that you’re getting fitter and stronger than being able to lift more and do more in the gym.
Make a note of all your starting weights and every time you exercise try and maintain your current level and where you can attempt to progress yourself. If you’re working with a PT they should have a record of what weights you’re lifting, how many reps you’re doing, how long you can do things like planks etc. This is how they ensure they’re progressing your workouts every time they train with you.
To wrap up...
If you’re not currently recording progress in any way, I would encourage you to do so as this will help keep you on track and motivated when you inevitably hit a lull in your drive to get to the gym.
It is also a fantastic way of being able to see how far you have come, and celebrate that accordingly. You’ve grafted and it’s ok to feel proud as heck of yourself.
If you don’t like the idea of an aesthetic or weight related measure of progress then definitely opt for tracking what you’re lifting and making sure you’re celebrating those PB’s. These are fantastic indicators that you’re getting stronger and don’t have anything to do with the way you look.
Got any questions about measuring or tracking progress? Get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org, I’d be happy to help.