In today's world, we track everything. From tracking our personal finances and budgets, to tracking our fantasy football teams, we are logistically in tuned with everything we do. So why would we not track our fitness progress? Whether you're trying to lose weight, gain size or strength, or just trying to improve your overall health, tracking your progress will help. Here are a few tips on why, how, and what to track!
BENEFITS OF TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS
MAKES IT MORE LIKELY TO REACH/SURPASS YOUR GOALS
Tracking your progress shows you where you've been, where you are, and where you're going. Having all this information can help improve your likelihood of reaching your goals and eventually surpassing them for new, bigger goals. This also keeps your goals at the front of mind, rather than shoved in a notebook that you open once a month. Having those goals in front of you can help push you through the tough times as well.
ALLOWS YOU TO BE MORE EFFICIENT
Planning out and tracking your workouts means that you know what is on your to-do list in the gym and can lead to less time searching for your next exercise. The less time you spend thinking about what's next, the quicker and more efficient your workout can be, leading to a more efficient day.
All of us need to be accountable to someone. Whether that's being accountable to a trainer, your spouse, or a workout buddy, we need that accountability. By tracking your workouts, you're able to keep yourself accountable to your workouts, to the exercises, and to each rep and set. You're then able to look back at your workouts with a sense of pride that you were able to hold yourself to the entirety of the workout.
ALLOWS FOR EASIER MODIFICATIONS
Reaching our goals isn't a straight line road, and sometimes we need to make some adjustments. Knowing what is working and what is not can help you make adjustments and modifications to help boost your chances of success. These modifications can really be anywhere, from the exercises you work into your programs, the reps and set ranges, and even the days you do workouts. However, you can't reflect on what's working if you don't keep track of what you're doing.
PROVIDES EXTRA MOTIVATION
Having your progress on paper or at least organized in a visual aspect in front of you shows you where you've been and how far you've come. Being able to see that progress can help push you to keep going. This also relates to being able to visually see your goals every time you walk into the gym or the kitchen. Seeing your goals and your why keeps you motivated to keep pushing forward.
KEEPS YOU FOCUSED AND COMMITTED TO YOUR PLAN
This relates more to having a plan and tracking your progress against that plan. Having a plan helps you stay committed to your workouts week-in and week-out. Having a plan to workout 4x a week with specific muscle groups helps keep you accountable to that plan and focused when you walk in the gym.
WHAT ARE YOU TRACKING?
What you're tracking largely depends on what your goals are. If you're trying to lose weight, you may be more inclined to track your weight, body fat percentage, and body measurements. If your goal is to improve your strength, you may be more inclined to tracking your reps, sets, and weight of your workouts. In general, it is important to track all of the above regardless of what your goal is, as having a solid idea of your progress in all these areas will help make your fitness journey more efficient. It also allows you to make the adjustments and modifications mentioned above.
What about food? If you're on a fitness journey, what happens in the kitchen is just as important as what happens in the weight room. Be sure you're keeping track of what you're eating, even if you don't go into the finite details (calories, proteins, carbs, etc.). Having a good idea of what goes into your body and what affect that has on your performance and results can really be the difference between reaching your goals and not.
HOW TO TRACK YOUR PROGRESS
If you are tech savvy, you may be more inclined to look into an app that can help you track your workouts. If you are more traditional, it can be better to track them on a workout sheet or notebook. Either way, find something that fits your style and what goals you're pushing for, this will make tracking your workouts more comfortable for you and will help you continue to do it.
There are countless apps out there that can help track your workouts and your nutrition. Here are some of our favorites!
1. The Mesa Fitness App
Of course we love our own app. In our app, you can plug in exercises, set reps and weight, and even get tutorials on new exercises. Our app's exercise library comes with over 2000 unique exercises from gyms and trainers across the country (including our own) to help you find the best fit for your goals and experience. If you're working with a trainer, they will soon be able to use this app to send you workouts, track your check ins to help keep you accountable outside your sessions, and send messages back and forth. The best part? It's available for both iOS and Android AND it's free.
This one is a great one for tracking, creating, and scheduling your workouts. It also allows you to create your own exercises if their library doesn't have what you're looking for. It's extremely user friendly and simple for even those who aren't as tech savvy. Great starter app for those getting into the gym. This one is free, but has some limitations that can be bypassed with in-app purchases.
3. MyFitnessPal & Fitbit
These are two of the more popular apps when it comes to tracking your nutrition. You're able to track your intake and macros/micros (nutritional content of your food like proteins/carbs/etc.). You're even able to scan barcodes of some foods from the grocery store and upload that information into your daily intake. Our trainers are fond of MyFitnessPal and use it with many of their clients to help keep them accountable.
The old tried and true method to tracking your workouts is a notebook or pad. You can make your workouts in an Excel or Google Sheet document and print them to use or write them out. If you're more visual in the sense of writing things down, this may be the easier method for you. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing things the old fashion way sometimes!
If you're working with a trainer, good chances are that they are tracking everything for you and then reviewing your progress routinely, whether that be after each session or monthly. Make sure your trainer is reviewing your progress with you and that you have a good understanding of where you are and how far you've come!
Regardless of how you're doing it and what you're tracking, be sure you are keeping track of your progress. This could be the difference between reaching your goals and not and can give you the extra push you need to keep going!