Not seeing improvements despite your best efforts can be disheartening. You are training consistently, eating well, and resting enough. Yet, despite working hard for months, it feels like you have not made any progress. But what if you are making progress without realizing it?
The truth is, many people place so much attention on eating and training that they forget to take a step back and review their progress. To help prevent this from happening to you, we have put together a list of four effective techniques you should use regularly. Let us dive in and see what they are...
1. Progress Photos
We see ourselves in the mirror every day, so we can not always notice visual improvements. It is only after seeing photos or videos of ourselves from weeks and months ago that we notice significant changes.
Progress photos are one of the best ways to track your progress because you get to see how your body changes on a weekly or monthly basis.
To make them useful, always take them in the same condition, at the same time of day, and while using the same poses and, when possible, the same light. Compare the different photos over time and notice how your body changes. Ideally, you should take a set of a few pictures of your front, side, and back and repeat that process every two to four weeks.
2. Circumference Measurements
Circumference measures are another valuable tracking tool you should use, especially while losing weight.
Due to water retention and other bodily processes, the weight scale can sometimes mask progress and make us feel like we are not making progress. But, if we regularly measure parts of the body like the waist, chest, hips, arms, and thighs, we can see if we are getting slimmer.
Like progress photos, it is good to take several measurements (down to the 0.1), write them down, and repeat the measuring process every two to three weeks.
3. Workout Logs
Having a workout log is incredibly beneficial because it helps you see how your performance changes over time. Like visual changes, we often do not realize how much progress we are making until we start putting data on paper, which we can examine later.
Specifically, to make workout logs useful, you should record the following
- Exercises you are doing
- How many sets you are doing
- How many reps you are doing per set
- How much weight you are lifting
This will be more than enough for you to gauge how things are going. Plus, this can be incredibly motivating in the long run because it helps create a positive feedback loop: Your workouts produce good results, which encourage you to work out again, creating even more promising results. In case your are wondering, two incredible workout-tracking apps are Strong, and Fitbod, which we also described in another blog post previously.
The last on our list is the scale. Love it or hate it, the scale can give you actionable information when used correctly. Whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose fat, combining the above tactics with weigh-ins will fill in the gaps and give you a complete overview.
To make weigh-ins effective, take at least four per week, in the morning, on an empty stomach, after going to the bathroom. Then, calculate the weekly average and compare the values over the weeks. For example:
Monday - 180.2 lbs (81.73 kg)
Wednesday - 179.3 lbs (81.32 kg)
Thursday - 179.9 lbs (81.60 kg)
Saturday - 179.0 lbs (81.19 kg)
Average: 179.6 lbs (81.46 kg)
Compare that value to your weekly averages for a much better idea of how your body weight changes over time.
plan. travel. workout.
While it is important to track success, you still want to enjoy your workouts. Of course, tracking can provide the motivation and accountability many people need to become more active and lose, for example, excess weight. But for those prone to obsessive thoughts and behaviors, the same tools can turn dangerous. Make sure you keep a good balance and try to have fun when doing sports.