TOPIC: What's The Best Way To Keep Track Of Your Progress?
People are constantly trying to lose weight, gain muscle, just get results. People may "feel" that the weight is on or off, or people may "assume" they made progress because of the time they spent in the gym, but how do they really know?
What are some of the best methods to keep track of your progress?
How often should you check your progress?
BONUS QUESTION: What's the best way to keep your workouts and diet in check? Do you use any methods of tracking progress, keeping workouts and diets in check, or do you just listen to your body and play it by ear?
- 1. ho_124
- 2. Blap Balow
- 3. Ravadongon
- 1st place - 75 in store credit.
- 2nd place - 50 in store credit.
- 3rd place - 25 in store credit.
1st Place - ho_124
What's The Best Way To Keep Track Of Your Progress?
Keeping track of your progress is one of the most important things you can do outside the gym. This is usually overlooked by most people who just hit the gym without keeping track of the weight they use and reps they perform.
They don't even keep track of their weight, diet or even take pictures of themselves to chart their gains. By doing this, you won't even know if you're making any gains at all.
By doing this, you will know when to increase the amount of weight, if your overtraining, if your program and diet is good or not, or most importantly if your gaining muscle or losing weight.
The list is endless and you will have a much clearer idea of what you're doing. It doesn't take a whole lot of time and it hardly costs any money so it only makes sense to keep track of everything.
What Are Some Of The Best Methods To Keep Track Of Your Progress?
There isn't just one method of keeping track of your progress but quite a few, and you also shouldn't rely on one way.
For example if I just relied on a scale for keeping track of my gains and it says I gained 10 pounds, I might not know if I gained fat or muscle. So it is important to use a variety of methods to reduce error and get a more accurate idea of your gains.
You also don't have to rely on complicated lab tests since it would probably be expensive and you would just be wasting your time. It doesn't matter if your decimals off your weight or body fat composition.
1. Keep A Log!
- Keeping a log is the most important. You won't be able to memorize all the calories you had each meal, every day for however many weeks. You probably won't be able to remember how much weight you used in each exercise and the exact amount of reps.
That's why you have to keep a log, it is the key to keeping track of your progress and seeing which diets and training programs are best for you and which ones don't work.
It's exactly like your binder in school, without it you wouldn't do well in school and without a log you won't succeed in achieving your goal. In your log you should put in your training program as well as a bunch of important things I will list below.
Updating The Log:
- Every time you change your weight training program which you should be doing about every 2 months, change your log also. This will make things easier because if your log is just one mass of pages it might get confusing. It also helps to have a mini-goal you want to achieve each time you change your log and training schedule.
For example if a 100 pound person is bulking, then he might want to have it as his goal to gain 10 pounds of muscle by the time he changes his workout and log two months later.
Keep in mind though, you will want to keep each of your logs, don't throw them out. Keeping your logs allows you to see which diet and training program gave you the best gains and which diet and program didn't work so well.
2. The Scale & Your Weight.
- Probably every household has a weighing scale. This is the easiest and most convenient way of seeing if you have gained or lost any weight although there may be a few minor changes from day to day.
If your plan is to lose a lot of weight, then this machine won't lie. If the weight on the scale keeps going down then that's probably a good indication you're losing all that fat. But there is a problem when it comes to gaining muscle. You might not know if your are really gaining fat or muscle (Especially when bulking).
That is why you can't just rely on the scale to tell keep track of your gains. That's what most people do, just hop onto the scale, and if they gained 5 pounds they just assume it was muscle and keep on doing what their doing not knowing if their diet or training is doing them any good. It is a good idea though to keep track of your weight in your log.
3. Body Fat Composition.
- This is especially important when you're cutting. You can estimate using your eye but it would be best if you used a body fat caliper that tells you your body fat percentage.
For most people, a good body fat percentage for pretty good muscle definition should be about 7-9% maybe even 10%. But for professional and serious bodybuilders they usually shoot for about 4-6% body fat which is hard to get.
How Much Muscle Do I Have?
- If you want to know how much muscle you have or have gained then you need your body fat %. To do this take your body fat percentage and multiply by your weight.
So if you weight 100 lbs and you have a 10% body fat then you would have 10 pounds of fat (100 x .10 = 10 remember 10% is a decimal for you math genius's) and 90 pounds of other things such as muscle, water, bone mass, and organs.
How Much Muscle Did I Gain?
- Finding out how much muscle you have isn't that important even though some people want to know, finding out how much you gained is even more important however. This I will show you below.
To find out how much muscle you gained, here's a situation. Let's say your bulking. If you are 100 lbs and you gain 20 lbs with a body fat percentage of 10% before and after the 20 lbs (I know it's impossible but I don't want to complicate things) then you need to find out how much body fat you got.
So 120 x .10 = 12 pounds of body fat. So to find how much muscle you gained you find out how much non fat body weight you had before you gained 20 pounds and after you gained 20 pounds.
So before you gained 20 lbs you had 90 lbs of non fat body mass and after you gained 20 lbs you had 108 pounds of non body fat weight. So you take 108 minus 90 to get 18 pounds of gained non fat mass.
You can assume that most of this is muscle but of course it isn't pure muscle (We already know that none of it is fat either). You can assume it is mostly muscle since you are training and altering your diet, you don't just gain 18 pounds of water or something.
4. The Mirror.
- The mirror never lies. It is also a surprisingly good way of seeing if you're gaining or not without all those numbers. Since you know what kind of body you want, then you should check the mirror often to see if you're coming close to that goal body you want.
- It also gives you a good idea on what you're lacking on. For example you might notice that one arm is bigger than the other arm and in that case you know that you need to fix that.
- This is another great and accurate way of charting your gains. Take a measuring tape and measure your around the forearms, biceps, chest, stomach, legs and calves (Write down the circumference that gives you the largest measurement). There are also a lot more things you can measure too but the above list will give you a good idea if you're gaining or not.
So if your biceps are 10 inches at the start of your log and 12 inches at the end, you know for sure you have gained muscle unless your arm is just a huge chunk of flab and all you did was sit and eat.
6. Increase In Reps & Weight.
- In your training log you should be keeping track of how many reps you perform in each exercise as well as the amount of weight you use.
So if at the start of your log you record that on your bench press you fail exactly at 8 reps with 100 pounds and at the end of your training log you still achieve muscle failure at 8 reps with 100 pounds.
Then something is obviously and seriously wrong with your training and probably your diet too. But if you notice that your bench press at the start of your log was 100 pounds and at the end it was 125 then you have obviously gained some muscle and obviously strength.
- This is a really good way to know if you have gained or not. Take a picture when you start a new log and every week take another picture.
After you're finished take another picture and compare all of them to see how you have progressed. If you notice you have gotten bigger or more ripped then you know for sure that you are making some real progress.
Just like the mirror, pictures don't lie. You should also show your pictures to someone else to see what they think since you might have some huge ego.
Organize Your Log Like This...
You should organize your log in 3 sections. The training section, the diet section and the stats section.
- Training Schedule: This is the base of your log. Practically everything is based on your training. Make a 2 month log or make the log however long it takes you to change your workout schedule.
Divide the log into weeks, and write down what body part your doing in each day of the week. Then write down the exercises your doing for the body part.
- The Sets, Reps & Weight You Use: Write this beside the exercise.
- Write How Long You Spent In The Gym: This could be important if you've over trained for example. If you're going for 1 hour and a half, then you would know your probably spending too much time in the gym.
- You Should Also Write In How You Felt Each Day Before Going To Workout: So if you felt an energized one week and did 10 reps on an exercise, then 2 weeks later you're still at 10 reps or lower. Then it could be because you felt tired that day you worked out.
- What You Eat Each Day. Put a section for each meal that counts the calories. Then at the end of the day count the total calories which let you know if you are eating properly.
- Carbs, Calories & Fat: You should also write down how many carbs, calories and fat are in each of the foods you eat.
- Water & Sodium: If you want, you can put a tiny section that indicates how much water you have taken in and how much sodium you have taken in as well. Since lack of water and excess salt promotes less muscle definition, you know how much you're getting so you don't lose any "rippedness".
- Calorie Maintenance Level: Also as your gain more muscle your maintenance calorie level will increase. Make sure you calculate your maintenance level every two weeks and make adjustments to your diet.
- Divide this into a weekly sections
- Put the measurements of your body parts in each week
- Put your weight in each week
- Put your body fat percentage in each week
- Put your muscle gain mass in each week (I told you how to do this in the fat composition part)
- Put before and after pictures in this part
How Often Should You Check Your Progress?
I would say check your progress every week. That means taking your weight, measurements, body fat %, and muscle mass gained. You should also look over everything carefully every two weeks.
That means looking and seeing if your weight maybe went up a little bit or your body fat % went down a little bit. You want to be able to act fast if you see a problem which is why you should check over all your stuff every two weeks (You don't want to be wasting precious time, especially when your preparing for a contest).
So if you notice you haven't gained any weight or your fat level is still the exact same, then there are a number of things you should look over. Most of the time it's your diet.
- Almost all screw ups are made in diet, so check if you're getting that 500 calories over your maintenance level if you're bulking or getting under that level if you're cutting.
Make sure you've calculated your maintenance level correctly and see if you're getting to many carbs or maybe to little protein.
- Also check to see if you're
- . 99% of people train each body part once a week. So if you're training each body part twice a week and you notice you're not gaining, then it's probably because you're training too much.
Also if you train over one hour each session you maybe be overtraining. If you wait to long to check your progress like a month or something, then if you find out your diet and training is not getting you anywhere, you've basically wasted a month doing nothing.
What's the best way to keep your workouts and diet in check? Do you use any methods of tracking progress, keeping workouts and diets in check, or do you just listen to your body and play it by ear?
Like I Mentioned Above The Best Way To Keep Your Workouts & Diet In Check Is By Keeping A Log Which Contains Three Sections:
There is no other way of keeping on top of your training and diet than keeping a log. Think about it, for training it tells you what exercises you did, how many sets, reps and the exact weight you used.
When you write all this information down weekly and you look back at all of it you know if you progressed in the gym by increasing weight or maybe doing one or two more reps. And if your stats are constantly getting better then you know for sure your progressing. The diet section of your log is also the best way of keeping your diet in check and up to date.
When everything is written down about what you ate including the type of food, the amount of calories, the carbohydrates, protein and fat content your chances of screwing up on your diet are slim. Even if you do screw up all that information is right there and you don't have to wonder why you screwed up and try to remember what foods you ate.
Playing it by ear is risky. If you don't have any serious goals and you're not bulking or cutting and just lifting weights to get a little stronger and a bit bigger, then it's probably all right.
But if you're a serious athlete or bodybuilder playing it by ear is no effective at all. If your trying to bulk and you just guess the amount of food you need to get about five hundred calories over your maintenance level, your probably going to fail miserably. This is the same for training.
If you don't record everything you did in the weight room you would never know how much progress you're making. You wouldn't know when to up the weight, or what exercises to do in your next training program let alone even know what exercises your suppose to do.
You would never know what training and diet programs worked best for you. And worst of all if your overtraining or doing something very wrong with your diet you wouldn't know what the problem would be since nothing is written down. So just invest a little time and make a good quality log, don't play it by ear and be lazy.
2nd Place - Blap Balow
Tracking progress is essential to the success of any athlete, not just the bodybuilder. Often numbers are banded around without context and used irresponsibly to track an athlete's progress.
In actual fact much of the success of any athlete is constant improvement due to constant re-evaluation, with the improved numbers following on from this steady improvement.
By tracking your progress carefully and thoughtfully you can help attain your goals faster and with less frustration as weak spots become easily identifiable and problems become easier to spot and resolve.
Why Track Progress?
Tracking one's progress is often essential in realizing your goals, whatever they may be.
By Carefully & Regularly Tracking Your Progress You Can Quickly & Easily Benefit You In A Number Of Important Ways: