You Probably Suck At Tracking Your Progress
Most people completely wing it when it comes to tracking their progress, and then wonder why they’re hardly making any results. It’s crucially important you do this well, otherwise you’re just guessing and hoping what you’re doing is working.
And if you don’t know if what you’re doing is working, you could be wasting precious time spinning your wheels instead of making progress.
The only way to know if you’re making progress without tracking anything is to make such a significant leap that the changes are undeniable. This sort of works, but the problem is that it can take months before you really notice enough of a change to gauge whether what you’re doing is working or not.
That could mean 2-3 months of spinning your wheels before you find out your program sucks and you need something different.
Meanwhile, by properly tracking your progress, you could have an informed idea whether what you’re doing is working or not in as little as 4-6 weeks.
Where most people go wrong with this though, is they only track one, maybe two things, and don’t even do it particularly well.
It’s important that you have several different measures of progress so that you can compare everything and get an idea of the big picture going on.
For example, when trying to lose weight, sometimes the scale won’t budge for a matter of weeks, despite following your diet to a T.
Now most people’s first thoughts are they need to make changes to their diet. Which can be the case a lot of the time. But what you want to do is also compare tape measurements, and other measures of progress.
Despite the scale not budging, you may find that you’ve lost an inch around your waist. There isn’t much that affects waist circumference negatively other than fat loss, so you can use that to support the idea that despite the scale not showing it, you’ve lost some fat.
This sometimes happens because your body will retain some water weight while in a fat loss phase, and not flush it out until several weeks pass. There are several possible reasons, but that’s a common one.
You can also look at several other things to get a good idea. Did you get significantly stronger in this time period too? You likely built some muscle, which offset the amount of weight loss you see on the scale.
Have you been hungry? Lacking energy? Those feelings are normal to experience when losing weight, which are more signs that despite what the scale says, you are losing fat.
Not that the scale is useless. But, it isn’t always the most reliable in the short term. Instead of looking for daily change, or even change from week to week, start looking for a downward trend in weight, over a period of 4-6 weeks, at the very least.
With all of that information, you can make an informed assumption that your diet is fine, you need to keep going, and eventually you’ll see the scale move. Making changes too early can lead to issues, so tracking your progress this way helps keep things running smoothly.
Think about your workout program and your body sort of like a science experiment.
- Collect some data to establish a baseline / starting point
- Start the experiment (your diet and workout program)
- After some time passes, compare the results. Did you make good progress?
- If yes, continue what you’re doing. If no, make some adjustments, and run the experiment again.
Rinse and repeat until you get it right and you’re making incredible progress you’re satisfied with.
Here’s what to track for progress and the best ways to do it.
Track the weight and reps you do for each set of major compound movements like squats, bench press, rows, and deadlifts. Whether you’re getting stronger or not is the best way to tell if you’re building muscle, before it’s visually apparent.
Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, every single day, before you eat or drink anything, and after you go to the bathroom. This gives you the most consistent, accurate measurement to work with.
Then take the weekly average of those numbers. This cancels out any of the normal fluctuations you see from day to day and gives you a consistent number to work with.
Measure the circumference of your thighs, hips, waist, chest, arms, and anywhere else you want to see grow or shrink. Be extremely particular about measuring the same exact spot every time.
These are best done by replicating the same angle, lighting, pose, distance from the camera, and preferably even the same clothes every time. Getting at least three angles for front, side, and back view. Angles and lighting significantly affect appearance so you want consistency.
Several Qualitative Factors:
These are less objective and quantitative, but still important to think about. How do your clothes fit? How sore are you after workouts? How is your sleep? How is your energy through the day? How do you look in the mirror? How hungry are you?
Use all of this info to compare your progress every 4-6 weeks to get an idea if what you’re doing is working.
But interpreting the results and knowing what the hell to do and what all this means when things don’t go as planned is easier said than done.
What do you do if you aren’t seeing the results you want? Are your expectations even realistic? What needs to change in order for you to make great results?
I’d love to be able to teach you exactly what all the different possible combinations of data mean and what to do as a result. But there’s simply so many possibilities that you won’t reliably choose the correct course of action without a plethora of knowledge and years of experience.
Effectively being able to do that is the essence of being a fitness and nutrition coach.
To say the least, effectively teaching you how to be a good coach is a little outside the scope of what I’m capable of within a single blog post. There have been entire books written on this subject. (Sort of like the ones I’ve read over the years to become good at what I do.)
If you have any questions relating to your specific situation, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll help you out.
But if you think you would benefit from having my expert guidance with all of this instead of figuring it all out on your own, then you should apply for my coaching program.
Instead of feeling lost and confused, you’ll receive a simple and actionable plan to follow. I’ll interpret all of the data you send me and tell you exactly what I’m seeing. Your program will be adjusted accordingly to this data so that your body is always getting exactly what it needs to make incredible progress.
And the best part is, all of this will be adjusted around your schedule and preferences, so that you don’t have to sacrifice your social life and become a gym rat in the process.
To learn more and apply for my coaching program, click this link below.