Creating fitness goals gives meaning to all the hard work we do with dieting and exercising. It is the main reason we work out hard and stay disciplined when dieting.
How can you see how you are doing towards those fitness goals without keeping track of your fitness progress?
Spending time consistently keeping track of your fitness progress will allow you to see your faults in both your diet and exercise program. This will allow you to make changes as needed and further refine your exercise and diet program.
What You Should Keep Track of
The most chosen way to monitor progress is your weight on the scale. This is the biggest mistake people make in tracking their progress. Don’t get me wrong, I believe your weight can be useful in some cases, but it should be one of many ways to track progress and not your only method to track progress.
Think about it, the scale only tells you your weight. It doesn’t tell you how much of that weight is body fat or muscle. There are people who lost 5 pounds or less over several months, but made an incredible full body transformation. If you use other methods to track your progress besides just using a scale you’d notice the progress.
You’ll want to invest in a cloth tape measure which you can find for a couple of dollars. Measuring certain parts of your body with the cloth tape measure can allow you to track progress of specific areas on the body.
You can also invest in body calipers which are a few dollars as well. This will allow you to get a fairly accurate reading of your body fat percentage. This is a great way to track your progress if you’re trying to lose weight. It will help you identify if you’re losing body fat or muscle.
I also suggest keeping track of your daily caloric intake. By keeping track of your calories, you can find out how many calories you can eat on a daily basis and still lose weight. Without finding out your calorie intake, it is almost impossible to find out your specific amount of calories you need to be at to optimally lose weight. Creating a food journal or tracking your diet through an app might be useful.
One of the easiest ways to tell if you’re making progress is if you notice results when working out. If you progress in higher weights in resistance training on a regular basis and can handle more intense cardio sessions, then it’s a safe bet that you’re making progress. If you don’t notice any progress in a week or two with your exercise routine, then you may be doing something wrong.
How I Track Progress
When I try keeping track of my progress, I tend to apply all of the methods I mentioned above. I weigh myself once a week first thing in the morning before breakfast. After I weigh myself, I take measurements of my body fat. I also measure dimensions of my chest, arms, legs, hips, and stomach. Once I get all of that information, I put it into a spreadsheet I created in Microsoft Excel. I periodically assess my improvements during my exercise routine to make sure I am progressing upwards at a regular pace.
This combination of effort requires a lot less time than you may think. I believe it takes me 10 minutes a week to get all of that information. That 10 minutes I spend gives me a very accurate picture of my results. Not to mention it allows me to see if I am doing something wrong that could save me a lot more time and money in the long run.
I also assess my progress in the simplest and most effective way possible… Looking at myself in the mirror. If you’re SEEING visible results, then none of the other methods should matter. After all, you’re working towards visible results, not some numbers on a scale.
How do you keep track of your fitness progress?