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  • Clem Duranseaud

how to track your gym progress

Updated: Mar 27


Leg press at golds gym. In this post we go over the important of tracking your workouts to fast track your fitness results
Hack squat at Gold's in in L.A

Tracking your progress in the gym is the easiest way to ensure you are moving towards you goals. You can't always see the results you're aiming for materialize on a weekly basis, but as we will see, you can notice weekly progress.


Tracking progress is also very important to understand whether or not your program is working. If my goal is to lift heavier weights, and I see that I am lifting slightly heavier weights each weeks, that is a good sign that I'm on a good program.


On the other hand, if I see that I can't lift heavier weights after 4 weeks of being on that particular routine, it could be an indication that it isn't quite right for me.


What should you be tracking


At the very least, keeping a record of the weights you lift each week will go a long way.


This will help you have a clearer idea if you are getting stronger or not.


Having a workout log, either in the old school form of a pen and paper, or on your phone is the simplest way to track this. Simply record how much weight you lifted on each exercise.


To go a step further, track how many sets and reps you do with each weight. This will help you understand if you can push yourself a little harder next week or if you need to use lighter weights.


Let's take a look at the example below.


Here is an example of a workout log, tracking which exercise you do, how many sets and reps as well as how much weight you actually lifted. This is great to make sure your workouts are helping you build strength, put on lean muscle mass and lose weight
Example of a weekly workout log

We can see that in the first week, we could only do 8 reps of the shoulder press on the last set. Coming back a week later, we see this, and try to do a little bit better and complete three sets of 10.


With the squats, we see that we could 12 reps on the last set on week one. This could be an indication that the first two sets were too easy, so on week two we do three sets of 12.


On the push ups we see a slight improvement on the first two sets on week two.


It's easy to glance over this two weeks and say "oh well 2 extra push ups aren't much". An extra 2 reps represents a 20% increase over last week, which is actually quite substantial.


Without tracking this stuff, it's almost impossible to remember exactly what we did last week (never mind last month) and much harder to appreciate the small, incremental progress that eventually leads to our desired outcome.


Long term tracking


Getting in the habit of tracking your gym progress over long periods of time will fast track your results. You'll know exactly what you are doing right or wrong, but most importantly it'll help you navigate the the undulating nature of gym progress.


Getter fitter is not a linear process. There are some weeks in which you'll feel amazing, setting personal best on almost every exercises. There will also be weeks in which you will feel sub par and nothing feels like it's working. Neither of these two types of weeks represents your average training week.


You'll notice that after a fantastic week, you won't be able to match those exact numbers again for a while (and that's totally ok). After a bad week, you'll notice that your workout output goes back up to a more normal intensity.


Consistency and having a workout log will help you stay focused and avoid discouragement when these weeks arise.


Long term tracking will also come in very handy when it comes to switching up your program and avoiding plateaus. Typically, a solid gym program should be anywhere between 3-6 months. During this time, you should see consistent progress.


Not weekly progress, but consistent progress.


When we start noticing that we haven't made any type of progress over 2-3 weeks, that can be a sign it's time to switch up your program.


Once again, having a workout log you can refer to is the easiest way to analyze this and make informed decisions.


Cheeky online training plug: if you want me to take care of all your programming and tracking let's talk ;) Click this link and let's get started.


Which exercises should you track?


You can track as many exercises as you want, however, I recommend focusing on your main, full body exercises. Think about all the main compound movements such as the squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups...all the tough ones.


Depending on your goal you may also want to track different exercises. I rarely recommend tracking lat raises for example, but if your goal is to develop your shoulders, then tracking that particular exercise can really help.


If you want the non tedious way of tracking do this: track all major lifts that you do, and only track single joint exercises (lat raises, bicep curls, tricep extensions, calf raises) on a goal oriented basis.


What to track during fitness classes


When we go to group fitness classes, it's impossible to track our workouts the same way we do at the gym, and that's ok.


Having a general idea of which weights you use, and trying to use different weights (read heavier), from time to time is a good place to start.


For example, you go to a strength training class, or a circuit class, and you always use the 15 pounds dumbbells. One day, try using the next weight up. be prepared to have a slower, tougher workout, but that's ok, it's part of the process.


If that workout with the 20s felt incredibly tough, go back to the 15s next week. But now you have a new goal: use the 20s two weeks in a row OR make your regular workouts with the 15s tougher by doing more reps during the class.


You won't be counting your reps per se, but if you workout harder, you should feel more exhausted after class, which is something you can track, mentally, or on a note pad.


For those of you who did my Turf or Yyoga classes, that's why I always prompted you to use heavier weights <3


What else can you track?


As you keep progressing in the gym, you won't be able to keep adding weights or reps to your lifts on a weekly basis. After two years of training you might have to wait 2-3 months just to add 2.5 pounds on a lift.


Thankfully, there are other metrics you can track to make sure you are still progressing.


Recovery

Recovering faster from your workouts is an indicator that your are progressing. How fast does your soreness go away? How well do you sleep? How energized do you feel?


These are all details you can record alongside your workout log to help you notice your progress.


Workout duration

Completing the same workout in a shorter duration is another indicator of progress. It means you need less recovery in between your sets. This could also be an indicator to make your workouts a little harder.


Weekly volume

Workout volume refers to the number of sets times the numbers of reps times the weight lifted. This is an advanced tracking system which comes in handy once you get comfortable with regular tracking.


Weekly volume shows you exactly how much work you do per exercise and can help you recognize where you need to harder or easier. It's just the next step to regular tracking.


Remember that all you need to start tracking your workouts and take control of your fitness progress is a pen and paper or your phone. It's easy to start and definitely worth it.


Happy training!


Clem


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