SOMETIMES YOU KNOW YOUR WEIGHT TRAINING PROGRAM IS WORKING SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU CAN SEE BULKIER BICEPS OR PUMPED-UP PECS WHEN YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR. BUT THE MOST RELIABLE WAY TO ASSESS YOUR SUCCESS IS TO KEEP A TRAINING LOG OR DIARY.
A key to measuring your progress is to be clear about what you want to accomplish. Establish your goals and objectives, then plan your workout regimen and look for results accordingly.
If your objective isn’t very clear, then you might just put in your time and get stale with it.
Let’s say that your goal is to become stronger. You’ll know that you’re succeeding if you are doing more sets and repetitions or lifting heavier weights than when you began your program. If you’re less sore than you used to be and your body recovers faster from a workout, this too is a sign that you are gaining strength. Initially, you may have been simply hurting after a workout.
The formula can be simple: Are you accomplishing more work than you had accomplished before?
On the other hand, once you’ve reached a certain level in your weight training, you may be content not to add more weight or additional repetitions or sets to your routines. By sticking with the status quo, you can maintain what strength and muscle development you’ve gained, and this too can be considered a success if that is the goal you have set.
Regardless of your goals, you should be able to see more firmness or tone after just a couple of weeks of pumping iron.
If your goal is to lose that flab, don’t count on the scales to tell you that. You very well may not lose weight as you become more fit. That’s because muscle mass weighs more than fat. But adding muscle also enables you to burn more fat. Notice: It enables you to burn fat but doesn’t guarantee it. To increase fat burning, you need to combine aerobic exercise (walking, running, and stair climbing) with your weight training regimen.
Don’t get discouraged if the mirror doesn’t seem to reflect the body you want to see as quickly as you think you should see it. It’s happening, and we can prove it.
The best way to gauge your gains and losses is to keep a 6-month or 1-year workout Log. Here you’ll record data detailing what you’ve done during your workouts.
You will be more likely to maintain a log if you look at it not as a chore but as something fun.
You’ve got to rest between sets anyway, so if you just get in the habit of filling in the log during rest periods, it’s really not work.
A log can help in these ways:
- It motivates you to stick to your training program. I think, for the average person, it represents a commitment to his training. It really is fun to look back after a few months or a year to see where you were and where you are now.
- It documents your progress. Maybe you’re less concerned about strength but want a buff bod and muscles that are a marvel. By using your log to periodically record your body weight and the measurements of your chest, biceps, and the like, you can document your transformation into the Incredible Hunk.
- It provides comparative data. Even if your muscles aren’t bursting through your shirts, you’ll know whether you’re getting stronger by comparing data you enter in your log. If you were doing three sets of 10 repetitions of an exercise 3 months ago, and now you’re performing 15 repetitions, you have empirical evidence of your increased strength.
- It helps you modify your program. Your training regimen should have variety. Maybe you think you’re diligently mixing up the exercises you do, but a review of the log may show that your regimen has grown as predictable as summer reruns. If so, consider adding new exercises, changing the number of sets and repetitions you do, or performing the exercises in a different order.
And that’s yet another advantage of keeping a workout log. If you significantly modify your exercise routine, the log will give you a baseline from the prior training method that you can compare with the newer way of training.
Plus, if you keep a workout log, you needn’t rely on your memory to determine whether you are resting enough between workouts and exercising each muscle group enough to get a balanced workout.
A workout log can be whatever you make it. We suggests a bound notebook, 8 1/2 by 11 inches or even smaller. It should be neither so big that you won’t carry it to the gym nor so small that it’s hard to cram information on a page. How many columns you include depends on how much data you wish to record. At the very least, you should have a column reflecting the date, plus additional columns for the types of exercises done that day and the number of sets, reps, and weight, as well as for comments.
Also consider writing down how long you rest between sets, the order of the exercises, and perhaps what you eat before you lift. But keep the log relatively simple or you may avoid using it.
You can compose your own log or you can search bookstores and the Internet. But we’ve made it easy for you by preparing a Workout Log that you can print and attach to a clipboard.
How often you write in the log depends on your patience for the paperwork involved. You can record data every time you work out or perhaps for a week or two every month or so.
Even if you don’t keep a workout Log and see no immediate changes in your body, there will be other signs that your weight training plan is working.
You’ll begin to have more energy and you’ll be more alert. You’ll just generally feel better. Here are some signs of progress:
- With your newfound stamina, you have the energy to be a 60-minute man during sex.
- You’re no longer whipped after mowing the yard. Now you find yourself wishing that you had an acre of land.
- You’re so strong after shoveling your sidewalk that you do your neighbor’s too, and you don’t even like him.
- After a long day at work, you manage to remain awake through a sappy network movie of the week.
- When you climb a couple of flights of stairs, you no longer gasp like you’re scaling Mount Everest. In fact, you’re hardly winded.
- You sleep better. Even your wife and dog’s snoring doesn’t interrupt your slumber.
- It’s a confidence builder. You will become more aggressive at your job and your social life will improve.