Keeping Track of Your Fitness Progress
You're determined to make a change and have recommitted to reaching your fitness goals. However, all too many people make this pledge, only to lose motivation and not follow through. We've all been there, but fortunately there are ways to maximize your odds of success. Keeping track of your fitness progress can help you to stay motivated and on track toward succeeding with your fitness goals. While there is no "one size fits all" method for tracking fitness progress, there are a number of markers and measurements that can help. Here are eight of the top ways you can track your fitness and see the results you're getting from week to week:
1. Use the Scale
The number on the scale is a pretty straightforward way to see if you are losing weight. That said, it doesn't provide more nuanced information about your body fat percentage, muscle mass and overall look. To use the scale to track your weight, weigh yourself at the same time of day for each weigh in (for example, first thing in the morning). Daily weigh-ins are fine, but weighing yourself once per week can give a more comprehensive picture over time of how you're doing in terms of fitness (and especially weight loss) goals.
2. Keep a Food Journal
Proper diet is a big component of fitness and weight loss. Some nutritionists say weight loss is 75 percent about diet and just 25 percent about exercise. It's actually far easier to cut extra calories during meals than to work them off in the gym, and a food journal can be extremely helpful in making sure you're not sabotaging your workout efforts. The calorie counts in most foods and portion sizes are readily available online, so you can accurately keep track of what you're eating and stay within an ideal calorie range for your goals. (Check with your doctor or nutritionist to determine that range and the best diet plan for you). Generally, favoring vegetables, lean protein and whole grains will support your efforts in the gym.
3. Keep an Exercise Log
Logging your workouts is another excellent way to track your progress from day to day and week to week. Make a note of the body parts worked as well the number of sets, reps and a few notes about how you felt that day. You can also include data from your food journal such as total calories eaten that day and your body weight (if you did a weigh-in that day). Look for patterns in terms of your strength, mood and progress; what types of workouts energize you and yield the best results? Are you allowing enough time for recovery between sets and workouts? Take care not to over-train, as this can be just as detrimental to progress as not training enough.
4. Track Your Body Fat and Muscle
The ideal body fat level of a fit male is 7 to 15 percent; for females, the range is around 15 to 20 percent. Pro bodybuilders may train for much lower body fat levels, and everyone is different in terms of the aesthetics of how they tone up. One way to track body fat on your own is by using a pair of skin fold calipers to pinch the fat away from the muscle and estimate the percentage; however, you can also track your body fat-to-muscle progress by looking in the mirror and seeing how much definition your muscles are showing.
5. Take Measurements
If dieting down and toning up is your goal, taking measurements of key areas can let you know if you are losing inches as well as pounds. You can also track if certain muscle groups are growing larger. Use a tape measure and track basic markers like your waist, hips, chest, biceps, thighs and calves. Consider doing both a weigh in and measurements once per week, and write down the results in your food journal or exercise log.
6. Take Photos
While how you look in the mirror can offer a glimpse of your progress, taking photos regularly can create a visual diary of your fitness evolution. Snap a mirror selfie of your bod once per week and display the photos side by side as you accumulate them to chart your progress.
7. Get Feedback
Another way to track fitness success is by enlisting feedback from a trainer, coach, workout partner or trusted friend. Ask them to be forthright and honest, but be sure you are ready to hear what they have to say.
8. Check How Your Clothes Are Fitting
Everyone has that outfit or item of clothing that's emblematic of when they're looking their best. Whether it's a pair of skinny jeans, a tailored suit or other favorite ensemble, when it fits, you know you're looking good. Keep that item of clothing or outfit out where you can see it at home and let it serve as motivation for you to fit into it again. Try it on from time to time, and when it fits comfortably, wear it out to celebrate this victory in your fitness progress.
Being healthy and fit is a goal that just about everyone has. However, blindly training and just hoping for results is a recipe for hitting a plateau and losing motivation. Tracking fitness regularly can help you to monitor progress, see your results, refine your approach and reach your goals faster. Try out these eight methods of tracking fitness progress and see which ones work best for you.
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