The world of weight lifting is all about numbers. What kind of numbers can you put up on the lifts you perform, how many sets and reps you decide to do, the number of exercises per body part you utilize, how long you perform cardio for, what the scale says when you step on it and the list goes on and on. There are some people out there who ignore these numbers and go by feel, which is perfectly fine, but there is a lot to be said about paying attention to all of these figures that you are presented with daily and paying closer attention to them may give you another perspective on how to measure your success. If you haven't already been doing so, I highly suggest you start taking a closer look at your numbers in the gym to track your progress and here's how to start.
Keep a Training Log
Beating the training log was a very popular method of training in the late 90's and early 2000's and it ventured those who bought into it to regularly reflect on their prior week's efforts in the gym so that during the current week, they would know what was needed to do more. You either had to use more weight than you did last week, or use the same amount of weight but for more reps or both. Of course we all have our ceiling for how strong we can actually get, which caused a certain degree grief because you can only get stronger weekly for so long, but the idea behind the approach was solid and proved very useful in attaining gains. Without having those numbers written down, you would have to rely on your memory and hope that you were doing more which isn't the greatest of approaches. Now by saying all of that, I don't think the need to beat the training log is the be all end all, but keeping track of the weights, sets and reps that you are performing is certainly a good idea so that you can see a measureable difference in what you're doing, if you're getting stronger or not or if you've reached a plateau in your training.
Track your Body's Numbers
Another great and very useful way to utilize numbers within the tracking of your progress is by paying attention to your body's output and composition. For example, if maintaining or losing body fat is a priority for you, then the only way to know for sure if what you're doing is working is by taking a body fat measure. You can also use the scale as another means of measuring your progress or you can tape measure your individual muscle groups to identify growth. Secondly, taking a look at your body's output via heart rate checks and how you're breathing your way through your workouts are also more indicators on how well you're doing. Another measurement of success that people often fail to pay attention to or realize its value is the number of hours of uninterrupted sleep you are able to accrue during the night. All of which I have just mentioned are ways your body provides you with valuable information and when put in a numeric form, can be extremely valuable in evaluating the effectiveness of your program.
I'm sure many of you out there reading this probably spend your entire day crunching numbers at work or while doing the household budget or when trying to allot a certain amount of money each month for a fresh new pair of Heyday's like the new GOKU inspired Super Trainers that are coming out very soon, so adding more number crunching to your day while at the gym is probably the last thing you want to do. That being said, there is a tremendous amount of value in at least knowing these numbers so if on the off chance you do want to sit down and figure things out exactly, you'll have a great place to start. In the meantime, just keep enjoying your training and let the numbers be what they're going to be.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.