How to monitor your progress?
Embarking on a training program can be challenging, and monitoring progress is an essential aspect of assessing the effectiveness of any training regimen. However, it can be difficult to track progress when trying to gain or lose weight, particularly when progress is slow or difficult to see. Nevertheless, monitoring progress is essential to achieving your fitness goals, and there are several methods you can use to keep track of your progress accurately.
The following methods are suitable methods to monitor your progress:
- Morning Weight: Monitoring your morning weight after a morning walk is an effective way to track changes in your weekly average weight. Morning weight is more reliable the longer you track it, and you can learn to identify situations that may have affected your weight, such as eating/drinking liquids the day before, a poor night's sleep, or even a stressful day at work. For women, menstruation can also affect morning weight.
- Take Photos: Taking photos of yourself every two weeks is an excellent way to track your progress visually. Stand relaxed in the same clothes, take in the same place, and in a way that the light in the photo room does not change, e.g., because of sunshine. Always take your photos on the morning after a day of rest so that your morning fitness is not affected by the hard workout beforehand. Comparing your photos can show if you are progressing in the desired direction.
- Measure Your Girth: You can measure your girth around your arms, waist, hips, thighs, and calves easily. Take measurements the morning after a day of rest without tensing your muscles to get the most reliable, repeatable measurement possible.
- Body Composition Measurement: Body composition measurement is an effective way to track progress, and many different body composition measuring devices are available. The important thing is not the absolute total, but if the changes from the previous measurement are within the desired range, then you are probably doing things right.
For experienced trainees, progress may be slower, and changes in muscle mass may be more challenging to detect every month. In this case, monitoring physical performance is a more reliable way of assessing progress. Muscle gain is likely also occur if there is a monthly consistent upward trend in strength gains. Repetition tests can monitor progress, with results compared to previous tests performed under the same conditions.
It's important to note that various factors influence the rate of muscle mass growth, including training background, program, nutrition, age, and heredity. Talented male beginners can gain up to 10 kg of muscle mass in their first year of training, with the rate of growth slowing down by half in subsequent years. Beginner women can expect to gain around 5-6 kg of muscle mass annually. On average, beginners can gain 5-10 kg of muscle mass per year, intermediate exercisers 2.5-5 kg, and experienced exercisers 1-2 kg.
In conclusion, monitoring progress is essential for assessing the effectiveness of a strength training program. Different methods can be used depending on the lifter's level, with monthly monitoring recommended. Photographs and body measurements are suitable methods, while physical performance monitoring is more appropriate for experienced trainees. By carefully monitoring progress, individuals can make informed decisions about modifications to their training program and ensure optimal progress toward their fitness goals.
Helms, E. R., Kwan, K., Sousa, C. A., Cronin, J. B., Storey, A. G., & Zourdos, M. C. (2020). Methods for regulating and monitoring resistance training. Journal of Human Kinetics, 74(1), 23-42.
Israetel, M., Hoffmann, J., Davis, M., & Feather, J. 2021. Scientific principles of hypertrophy training. Renaissance periodization.