The fitness process is driven by what we want to achieve. We walk into the gym to lose fat, get strong or live healthier, but how do we KNOW we're ACTUALLY making progress?
This week's fitness show is geared towards our goal oriented friends. The "changing your life through fitness" thing is frustrating, so it's important to have numbers to measure our progress as opposed to how we feel on a day to day basis.
Check out Coach Mike's suggestions on what to measure and how to proceed!
1) Measuring has to be the first priority before we start working towards a goal. How do we know we're achieving our goal? How do you know you have more money in the bank? You have a record of your account. The same thing applies to any fat loss or training goal. If we don't have a reliable way to measure, we really have little to no idea of what's going on.
2) If your goal is fat loss related, don't JUST rely on the scale for feedback. Our weight can fluctuate 3-5 pounds on a daily basis. Especially in the beginning of our fat loss process, people lose fat, gain muscle and are more hydrated. If we looked to the scale to measure success, we might get a false negative that progress isn't being made. You may be down 3 pounds of fat, up a pound of muscle and 2 pounds of water. The scale would show "no progress," but it's just not true.
Use the scale in conjunction with circumference measurements of your right arm, chest, waist and right thigh. Again the scale may not change dramatically, especially in the beginning, but if we're losing inches, that's a sign that your hard work is paying off.
3) If your goal is performance based, journal your workouts. Track your basic lifts (squat, deadlift, push-ups or planks and rows). Write down the weights, how many reps you did and the time it took you for your workout. To gauge progress, are you: lifting more weight, moving with better form, doing more reps, or doing over-all more work in less time? These would all indicate your performance is increasing!
4) Ultimately, the more you track, the more likely a professional can effectively help. Assuming your tracking just one thing, a coach may ask, "How often are you exercising/eating/sleeping?" If you don't have that answer, it's harder to give appropriate advice. Tracking one thing is better than none, but if we can track as much as possible, we have more data when things start to plateau or backtrack. Data helps us make more consistent progress.
Follow these guidelines if you're not already. Whether you're new to fitness or have been at it for a while, this should be a reminder that tracking is crucial to anyone's process. For the person out there at the gym busting their butt to make a change in their lives, measuring gives you those small wins that keep us sane. For the people with a coach, like the members at Results Driven, it gives us information we can use to guide them towards the next action step.
Remember, this stuff is not easy. Give yourself a break, but hold yourself accountable. Measure early and often, then experiment or talk to a coach to analyze what you're doing. Measure once a month to keep you honest, no matter how "bad" your weekend was.