Even as a trainer, I got into the bad habit of just showing up at the gym for my own workouts, wandering around, selecting weight off the top of my head and doing the same exercises over and over again.
And if I wasn’t feeling motivated, forget it! (And to be honest even though I do my workouts I am usually not motivated half the time). I was spending more energy thinking about what to do and less energy actually doing it.
When it comes to taking your workouts from good to great, and in turn taking your results from good to great, planning your workouts and tracking your progress is key in your success.
Because while goals are great…..
The goal in itself doesn’t take into account the work it actually does to get there.
Setting goals is all good and well but if you don’t have the appropriate steps in line you will not as much progress as you would like, or it will simply take a whole lot longer. And this can lead to the cycle of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
So ask yourself right now…
Do you track your workouts? Not in your head but actually write down your exercises, reps sets and weight before?
What exercises do you select and why do you select them? For what purpose?
How do you pair them together and why?
Are you struggling, breathless, fatigued, challenged or grimacing by the last rep?
Is your overall plan tailored specifically to your goals?
So while I am sure you already have a goal or know where you want to be (if not set it here right now), do you have the steps it will take to get there, right now talking strictly in terms of workouts?
How to track.
Create a workout log. You can type it up, record it in your phone or do what I am doing right now. Writing in a cute journal I got from Target, old school style. Write down your exercises, the number of sets and reps you do etc.
Select your goal. Are you trying to lose fat, build muscle, gain strength or just want to train for general health?
Select your exercises. What exercises are you choosing and why? Look, all these goals overlap in some way but if you are trying to gain strength your workout is going to be way different is your goal is simply to lose fat. You may lose fat while getting stronger, and you will probably get stronger while losing fat, but there is a method for each form of madness.
If you have no idea where to start pick any exercise that targets each body part and perform it in circuit style.
4 rounds of 10-12 reps each
DB BENCH, DB ROW, GOBLET SQUAT, DB SHOULDER PRESS
Reps & sets.
It is too detailed to go into all the reps for each goal but a general guideline for general health, maintenance and/or fat loss, is to shoot for 10-12 reps for 3-4 rounds depending on your time, goals and the workout.
Ok this part is crucial. You must challenge yourself and this is the perfect way to set a personal record in each workout.
If you are shooting for the 10-12 rep range, ask yourself if you could do 5 more. If the answer is yes, the weight is too light. If you can’t make 10 the weight is too heavy (unless you are training for strength, power lifting, etc).
Don’t get caught up in having to end on exactly 10 or 12, just shoot for that range. If it is a struggle to rep out the last couple, you are golden!
Why measure progress?
If you want to get in decent shape you can show up and do what you want for your workouts, but if you want to get into great shape AND speed up the process,you need to track where you are each workout so you can improve on the next instead of simply guessing or doing what you feel like doing that day.
Tracking ensures that you get the most out of each workout. Though we think we can, it is hard to remember if we did a certain exercise, at what weight, for how many reps.
Tracking progress builds confidence, accountability and helps determine when it is time to add weight or change up our workouts.
How do I know if I am making progress?
Measurements. Measure trouble spots, usually around the hips (the biggest part of the butt) and around the biggest part of the stomach.
I also encourage you to measure the non tangibles, like energy and mood. How did you feel starting this program? Unmotivated? How do you feel after? Stronger or more accomplished? These measurements are just as valuable.
Scale. I am not a huge fan of using the scale but know it can be motivating for some people. In the big picture use the scale as a guide but don’t stress over it. Day to day it may not matter a whole lot as you can gain weight because of extra sodium and lose weight because you had to much wine the night before and are dehydrated. I recommend weighing yourself one time each week first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything.
Pictures. Take pictures and no one has to see them but you! Sometimes the before can be eye opening and show you where you really are, not where you think you are. And often times looking back on pics you will realize you made more progress than you think you have.
Clothes. Try on a pair of jeans and every couple weeks try them on and note your progress.
In the end if you you feel good about your workouts and are seeing results and don’ want to track no biggie. BUT if you want to take your workouts from good to great and speed up the process, give tracking a try. Though it may seem over whelming, view this whole process as an interesting project that you are so lucky as to be able to work on.