Do you always hear or read about stories of amazing transformations and want the same results?
The one thing that weight loss or muscle gain achievers have in common is that they keep track of their progress.
If you’re ready to be serious about losing weight or gaining muscle, then you need to start tracking the changes in your body, what food you are eating and the workouts you are doing.
Tracking your progress does not mean to simply stand on the scales each morning and panic because you have gained 1/8th of a pound.
Tracking your fitness progress should make your diet and workouts more focused, so you achieve the amazing results you desire.
Don’t worry, though; I am here to help you easily and correctly track your fitness progress.
Why It’s Important To Track Your Fitness Progress
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So you decide that you want to get fit and healthy and to do that, you go for a run every morning and cut back on how much food you eat.
You’re happy because you are consistently losing weight every day when standing on the scales. You go for something to eat on Sunday only to realize afterward that you have put the weight back on.
This happens every week so you never actually lose weight. Does this scenario sound familiar?
To break out of this cycle and start achieving worthwhile results, you are going to need to change something about your diet or workout.
Tracking your fitness progress will help you do this and help:
Scales Don’t Tell The Whole Story
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Scales aren’t the be all and end all of your fitness progress. Many people focus too heavily on how much weight they have lost and when they see that they haven’t lost any weight or aren’t losing weight quickly enough, they give up.
What they might not realize is that even though they haven’t lost any weight, they could have lost inches and body fat which is great.
This will especially happen when doing strength and resistance training rather than cardio.
If you aren’t tracking these things and are just focusing on the scales, then you may not realize how well you are actually doing.
You Don’t Know If You’re Losing The Right Weight
I don’t mean to be a scales hater (or maybe I do), but another reason they aren’t the best way to track your progress is because they won’t tell you where the fat loss or muscle gain is coming from.
For example, you step on the scales to find that you have lost weight only to discover that your jeans still don’t fit.
This has happened because you have lost weight but not around your middle which is where you wanted to lose it from. It can be hard to know whether your diet and workout are working if you don’t know the results of it.
You Won’t Know How Many Calories You’re Consuming A Day
Do you actually know how many calories you consume a day?
If you don’t know the answer to this then how will you be able to determine how many calories you need to burn at the gym?
Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain weight, it is absolutely essential that you know how many calories you’re consuming a day.
There are so many people who wonder why they aren’t losing weight or aren’t gaining weight but aren’t tracking their calorie intake.
It can be all too easy to go overboard when plating your meals, however, finding the right portion size for you is important for your fitness progress.
You Won’t Know If You’re Getting Stronger
If gaining strength is a goal of yours, then you will need to track your workouts to be able to identify whether you are in fact getting stronger. It is also very important to continuously increase reps and weights, so that do get stronger.
Doing the same 10kg at squats 3 sets of 10 reps will not make you stronger, it will just mean that you are good at doing 10kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps.
If you truly want to get stronger, then you will need to challenge yourself continuously. For example:
- Week 1 – 10kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 2 – 15kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 3 – 15kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 4 – 25kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 5 – 25kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 6 – 25kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
- Week 7 – 40kg squats at 3 sets of 10 reps
Tracking Progress Results In Better Workouts
One of the main reasons why you should be tracking your fitness progress is because it will actually improve your workouts.
If you know exactly how many calories you need to eat, how many calories you need to burn, how far you need to run, what weights you need to lift then your workouts will become a lot more focused.
If you keep track of the weights, sets and reps that you do then you will have something to work towards in the following weeks.
Continuing to challenge yourself when working out is what will get results.
Track Your Body
This may seem pretty obvious however there are different ways you can track changes in your physical appearance… not just what the scales tell you.
If you are doing strength workouts, then you will be losing fat but gaining muscle so the number on the scales could be the same or even increase.
If you’re doing cardio workouts, then you will be losing both fat and muscle so the number on the scales will drop however you may become weak.
It is important to measure and track multiple compositions so that you can get a feel for what your workouts and diet are actually doing to your body.
Here are a few ways in which you can track your body:
A very easy way to track your fitness progress is to take photos of yourself.
This doesn’t just mean to take a before and after photo because fitness is an ongoing progress so there should never be an after. Instead, take photos of yourself every month or even quarterly to see the changes in your physical appearance.
To get a more accurate view of this, be sure to take your photos in the same bikini/underwear, in the same place, in the same light and at the same time.
Even the slightest of changes such as lighting could change the appearance of your body.
Take Your Measurements
You can buy a tape measure for cheap at any home depot store or online.
Many people tend only to measure around the waist however it is important to measure the whole body including:
Track Your Body Fat Percentage
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Tracking your body fat percentage is a lot more important than standing on the scales.
Whether you want to lose weight or gain muscles, then you will want to lose body fat either way.
Body fat can cause heart problems if excessive, and so it is important for everyone to measure their body fat percentage.
Men and women need to have different body fat percentages however as seen in the image below.
While men can still be healthy with just 8% of body fat, 8% would be unhealthy for women. You can measure your body fat percentage by purchasing a body fat caliper.
Gymnasiums tend to have body fat machines though if you wish to measure more accurately.
Track Your Food
As well as tracking your body, you will need to track what you eat. So many people blame genetics for their struggle to lose or gain weight. However, genetics is not to blame.
It is just as important, if not more, to measure how much you are eating and what you are eating than going to the gym and working out.
It isn’t just about how many calories you’re consuming neither; it is also about the quality of those calories. Unprocessed food is what will give your body the vitamins and nutrition it needs to repair muscles, builds muscles, lose weight, give you energy and more. Processed foods are what we like to call “empty calories” because they carry no benefits.
Here are a few ways in which you can track the calories you are consuming and what you are eating:
Image Source: I-Kinja
Image Source: My Fitness Pal
I have used MyFitnessPal for a long time now as it has made tracking calories so easy. The best thing about it is that it doesn’t just count the calories, it also tells you what is in the foods you eat such as sodium, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and more.
It is free to use, and all you need to do is enter the food you have eaten during the day.
It will provide you with your daily calorie intake as well as nutritional values of that food.
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FatSecret is another online diet tracking tool you can use to track the calories you are eating. The one thing that sets FatSecret apart is that you will also be able to enter your moods so you can see which foods are keeping you energized throughout the day and which aren’t.
This is something many people overlook when on a fitness plan. If you’re feeling energized, then you’ll be motivated and won’t lack on your fitness which is why knowing what food give you energy is key.
Track Your Workouts
Finally, you will also need to track your workouts. Do you tend to head to the gym with no plan in mind but to walk around and see which machines you might try that day?
Do you head to gym classes because they’re fun but aren’t actually sure which areas it will help? These are very common occurrences among people trying to reach their fitness goals.
If you’re deadly serious about wanting to lose weight or gain muscle, then you will need to have a clear plan in mind so you can track your workouts.
Tracking your workouts will determine whether you are in fact getting, fitter.
Here are a couple of things you can do to track your workouts:
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One of the easiest and cost efficient ways to track your workouts is to keep simply a workout diary. Every time your workout write down what you were done, what weights you used, how many sets and reps you did and the date of the workout.
You can then determine whether you are in fact getting stronger by comparing workouts either month by month or even year by year.
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When you’re running or doing cardio, then you will need a wearable tracker to track your workouts.
You can get wearable technology that will tell you how far you ran, how many steps you have taken in a day and how many calories you have burnt.
You can then write these stats down in your workout diary.
There are my 7 easy ways to track your fitness progress however for a quick recap, here they are again:
- 1. Take photos throughout your fitness journey
- 2. Track the change in body measurements
- 3. Track body fat percentage changes
- 4. Use MyFitnessPal to track what you are eating and how much you are eating
- 5. Use FatSecret to track how foods effect your mood
- 6. Start a workout diary to track whether you’re getting stronger and fitter
- 7. Use wearable fitness trackers determine how many calories you burn during workouts
Tracking your fitness progress helps you gauge the effectiveness of your exercise regime and diet and sustain your motivation to do better. Seeing the results will encourage you to form healthy habits and focus on the methods that work best for you.
Is there something that you use to track your fitness progress that I have not mentioned?
Feel free to share it with others by leaving your comments below.
What do you think?