Being able to track your fitness doesn’t take that much effort. Create a spreadsheet, write down the weights you use, and how many reps you do. That’s all it takes and any trainer or coach worth the money you’re paying them is taking care of these obvious parameters.
If you’ve been in any type of corporate setting, or even dealt with someone who has spent a good deal of time in corporate setting, more than likely you’ve heard the term “what gets measured gets managed.”
It’s one of those cliché business terms that everyone in middle management likes to harp on and is convinced that it’s the secret to turning a profit this quarter. At heart, it’s a good concept. But in practice, it more than often fails to live up to the inflated claims of whoever is pushing for it.
The problem is you’re doing it wrong.
It’s human nature to want to take the easy way out. Seriously, if the quality, price, time, etc. is the same would you want to cook dinner every night or have someone do it for you? When you’re boss comes in and starts throwing that phrase around it’s more than likely that he just came back from some meeting where his boss told him to manage his progress by measuring results, and in a few weeks it’ll be forgotten because he didn’t really care in the first place.
That’s where you are different though. You want to get stronger. You want to get faster. And you want to become the Alpha version of yourself.
The devil is in the details and these are the most common things people overlook when they track fitness progress.
The first things that you need to manage are weight, girth/body fat and your changes in the weight you use or time it takes to complete your run/set/training session. Before you read the rest of the article you NEED to have these measurements taken care of, otherwise the rest of this article isn’t going to do shit for you.
No matter what your goal is (speed, strength, power, general sexification) there is a core group of variables that needs to be tracked and focused on. It’s my very strong opinion that everyone who steps foot into a gym or any other facility with the goal of improving their fitness needs to know what’s going on with these variables.
It’s been beat to death and you know that you need to do it, but most of you still don’t. Occasionally you’ll fill up a water bottle and drink it. How much did you have today? What about yesterday? How much are you ai
ming for each day? How does your water intake, or lack of water intake affect your training? Or your recovery? Or life in general?
My approach to drinking water is to just drink a shit ton of it. When others come to me looking for advice, that usually isn’t the best way to put it. A good rule of thumb is to take your body weight, cut in half, then drink that many ounces of water each day. So if you weigh 200 pounds, drink 100 ounces of water. You’ll be pissing a lot, but that piss should be clear as water and that’s your cue that you’re hydrated. The darker your urine is, the more dehydrated you are…so don’t let it get past the point of looking like Gatorade.
It’s common knowledge that sleep is vital for recovery and life in general. Try staying up for 72 hours straight multiple times per week and you’ll learn this lesson first hand.
Some people need as little as 5 hours of sleep (chances are you aren’t one of them) and others need up to 10 hours each night. How do you find out how much YOU need?
Lay down for bed and make a note of the time. Don’t set an alarm. Go to sleep. Make a note of when you wake up the next morning.
Do this for a few days until the time is consistent and you now know how much sleep is ideal for you.
Now…realistically…will you always be able to get this amount of sleep? No.
But, by knowing what your ideal amount of sleep is you can adjust other things in your life that will make you fall below that magic number more often. Knowledge is power, right?
Alcohol, caffeine, sweets, prostitutes, etc.
There are plenty of things out there that are fun as hell to partake in, but will wreak havoc on your fitness at the same time. If you ask me, these are the most important things to track.
We like to adjust our memory to make ourselves feel good. So when we eat an entire sleeve of double Stuf Oreos we might only remember eating three or four, because only a slob would eat the entire sleeve right??
Case in point, I love me some coffee. I knew I drank a bit more than I should, but always thought it was right around 20-25 ounces each day.
As soon as I started tracking my habit with Daytum, I realized that I was drinking upwards of 40 ounces without even thinking about it. Luckily for me coffee isn’t as bad as some substances, but it goes to show that if you’re eating/drinking something you really enjoy it’s not hard to prove the amount or “know” that it’s not too much.
Tools to Track Fitness Progress
I’m not going to go over the obvious choices here because a) I’ve tried most of them and found them lacking in one aspect or another and b) a google search will tell the same thing, so why re-hash it. The method below is what I use because it is free and customizable to track whatever you need to track.
Daytum has a web app and a mobile app to track basically anything you throw at it. Somethings it is a pain to track (mostly total time slept and things like that) but for everything else it is fantastical and easy to use. Currently I’m using it to track what I drink and where I am.
This one is “free” because I already had it. But every computer has some sort of spreadsheet application on it now, and if not you can use google docs or open office. This is what I use to track my workouts because it’s too easy to auto fill your weights with a formula (I’m a devoted user of Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 because it means I don’t have to think) and it will actually track time without the need for you to do some fancy conversion.
The one feature that I find the most useful in Numbers is being able to create a detailed spreadsheet on my MacBook, save it to iCloud, open on my phone, and then fill it in using a form on Numbers Mobile. Do all the real work on your computer and all you need to do on your phone is input a few numbers.