If you have any aspirations of making the bodybuilding way a lifestyle choice, then you’re going to have to find things that continuously excite you and keep your motivation levels on the high. Change should always be the goal and seeing growth and/or losses in particular areas is what you are ultimately striving towards. The best course of action for you here, so that can experience longevity in this sport and keep training for as long as you want without thinking of it as something you have to do but rather something you want to do, is implement check points for yourself along the way. This will allow you to see your progress, track it and then extract motivation from it. Here are a few key check points you may want to incorporate into your programs as you plan for a long and successful gains filled bodybuilding lifestyle.
Weight Gain/Weight Loss
Depending upon your current goals and where you would like your physique to be, the easiest way to track your progress is by using the scale. The unfortunate part about using this device to track progress, is that many people get caught up with the number that they see staring back at them which is many cases, can be misleading. However, with that said, it’s a quick way to see if when trying to gain or lose weight, the number is going up or down. It’s also a great way to see if your weight changes as you change your body composition or if your weight stays the same as your body fat levels decrease. There are so many different ways to utilize a scale that it’s really difficult to depend on just this check point for results which is why I advise the use of a scale to be part of a total check point plan versus the only one.
Measure the Circumference of your Muscle Groups
Most bodybuilders don’t ever really measure their muscle groups in fear that they may not be living up to a standard of which they believe to be exceptional. I believe that using a measuring tape is a great way to see if you are building muscle and getting bigger; especially if you are trying to bring up a lagging body part such as arms. Sure you’ll be able to see any growth when you look at yourself in the mirror, but the true gauge of that would be a specific measurement. If you’ve been busting ass to bring up a lacking muscle group and you measure it and see that it’s grown, that’s just more fuel for the fire and motivating as hell to see that what you are doing is working and your body is responding. Unless you take these measurements, you’ll never truly know which is why you should keep a measuring tape handy so you can track your growth.
The first real sign of progress in the gym will most likely come by way of gains in strength. When you train, it’s a great idea to keep a training log which will detail all of your exercises, sets and reps along with the weights that you used for each workout. The goal here would be to beat the training log each and every week by either using more weight for the same reps or more reps at that same weight. Either way, you’ll clearly see a gain in strength and this type of check point can happen more often than the two check points previously mentioned.
Above everything else, it’s my personal belief that your body composition might possibly be the best check point that you can use. The overall goal is a lean and muscular body and the only way you’ll ever have that is by paying attention to your body composition with respect to the amount of muscle you possess versus how much body fat you have. You should always aim to keep body fat levels to a minimum because as bodybuilders, you’re going to want to flex your muscles and you can’t flex fat, so there’s really no good use for it. At the beginning of any training or nutrition phase, I think it’s important to take a body fat measurement and then again at the end of that phase. You’ll know if what you have been doing is working or if it’s been counterproductive and you need to change something up. If you’re just blindly following a program and not paying attention to how your body is responding, then you’re not really taking responsibility for your gains. If you are paying attention and what you’re doing is working really well, you’ll want to keep at it and see it through until it’s time to change it up again. But in the meantime, you’ll be enjoying every day knowing that your body is constantly changing for the better.
The final check point you might want to use for yourself is the number of Heyday Footwear products you purchase. If your Black Ninja Super Freaks have seen better days, you know you’ve put in the work on the cardio side of things. If your Tactical Trainer collection needs some freshening up, then you know you’ve been hitting it hard in the squat rack. Finally, if you’re Super Shifts are constantly battling your Max Bodybuilding Shoes for gym to street supremacy, why not just buy some more to give yourself more options. Any way you look at it, seeing improvements and the fruits of your labors is always going to be motivating as hell. Which check points you decide to use is up to you; the most important thing to remember is that It’s Not Hype, It’s Heyday!
Written by Dana Bushell
Dana Bushell (BAHK, BEd) has been actively involved in the bodybuilding and fitness industry for over 17 years. As a former provincial level bodybuilder, Dana has taken his knowledge of training and nutrition and has applied that to his contest prep coaching and teaching of strength and conditioning principles. Dana works as a high school Physical Education teacher and is sponsored by AST Sports Science and Schiek Sports Inc.