Results – It’s what you were really after when you started your exercise program
Whether you were looking to improve your cardiovascular fitness, lose body fat or gain muscle, you were likely after some sort of change (the “result”) when you started your program.
After exercising for a while, you may be asking yourself if it is really important to actually track your progress and results. You may have already reached your initial goal, so you may not see the importance of tracking your results.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
So should you track your results?
In a word, yes. Tracking results will help you in several ways.
First, tracking your results lets you know if what you are doing is working. Secondly, tracking results can help keep you motivated. Tracking results also helps you to properly progress your program. Now let’s discuss these in more detail.
Is Your Program Working?
One of the main reasons you want to track your program is to determine if the program you (or your trainer) designed is working.
For example: Let’s imagine your goal is fat loss and you’ve been exercising regularly for six months. You have not tracked any of your results up to this point. You finally get remeasured and find out your body fat has barely decreased.
You’re frustrated and rightfully so: you’ve put in months of work and only got negligible results. How could you have prevented this frustration?
The answer is actually quite simple: tracking your results early and often!
Had you checked your body fat 4-6 weeks after beginning the program and seen minimal results at that time, you would be alerted that something was not working with your program. This gives you the opportunity to make changes to your program to increase your results for the next measurement day.
Measuring and tracking your results allows you to see potential hiccups in your program and make the appropriate changes before you’ve wasted a lot of time and energy in a program that’s not working for you. We are all individuals and we respond differently to exercise.
Tracking progress lets you see quantifiable results that will tell you if you are on track to reach your goals, and when you need to change your program. Waiting too long to track progress puts you at risk for a frustrating measurement day and potentially means it will take longer to reach your goals.
Tracking results also helps keep you motivated in your program. If you are anything like most of my clients, seeing those inches go down, the number on the scale decrease or even the inches go up on the areas of body motivates them to push even harder in the gym.
Seeing the validation that all the hard work and sweat is paying off motivates them to keep at it. Measuring every few weeks keeps you motivated to keep pushing each and every day.
Another important aspect of tracking results is in the actual program design itself. Tracking what you did, when you did it and how much you did allows you to properly design and progress your program. By knowing how much weight you lifted last time and how many reps you completed, you can add the appropriate number of reps or weight to continue seeing results!
Should you experience any adverse reactions to your training (low back pain, excessive soreness), tracking your results can also help you pinpoint what may have caused the discomfort help you avoid future discomfort.
What to Track and How Often
So now that we understand the importance of tracking, you may be asking yourself what should you track and how often should you track it?
That really depends on what your goals are.
If your goals are to lose body fat – I would strongly recommend measuring your body fat percentage and circumference measurements every 4-6 weeks and your weight weekly. When it comes to measuring body fat percentage and circumference, you really have to wait the 4-6 weeks to see a significant and meaningful change.
If weight loss is your goal – have your body fat and circumference measured every 4-6 weeks, but also weigh in (at most) once per week. Except in special situations when this may be necessary (like if you were competing in bodybuilding competitions, for example), be cautious not to weigh yourself everyday or more than once per day, as water fluctuations can occur throughout the day.
If your goal is mass gain – weighing once per week along with body fat and circumference measurements every 4-6 weeks will tell you if you’re on the right track.
Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of why you should measure, how often you should measure and what you should measure.
The best and most accurate way to track your results is to find a qualified trainer who can measure body fat and circumference, and try to use the same person to measure you each time for consistency.
Read more from Expert Sarah Walentynowicz.