What is Progress?

The goal of any training program is progress, simply you want to be better tomorrow than you were today. All the hard work and effort that you put into your training each and every day, can be wasted  if you are not constantly improving yourself in some way.  So what is progress and how can you ensure you are making it. Well progress comes in many different forms and is not something than can be easily defined by just one set of criteria.



First area to look for progress is the actual physical changes that your body under goes. Now simply stepping on a scale and seeing your weight increase or decrease (depending on your specific goal) is not the best way to see this type of progress. The reason this isn't the best is because most scales will not separate your weight by muscle and fat. Therefore if you lose some fat, but at the same time put on muscle your scale may read the same weight or actually an increase in weight. Your scale is just not giving you the complete picture and relying on it may hide progress you are actually making.


A better method for measuring your physical progress is using a mirror, so you can see the changes that are taking place, but may not be reflected directly on your scale.  Tape measures can also reveal slight changes in your body that would normally go unnoticed (decreased waist size, bigger biceps, etc). However I personally believe one of the best indicators of physical progress cannot be measured using any devices (scale, mirror, tape measure, etc), because it's simply how you are feeling. Indicators like having more energy, feeling less stressed, decreased soreness/pain, more positive outlook, and increased self-confidence are just a few changes you should be looking for.


IMG_2072When it comes to looking for progress in your training, again it's not always as clear cut as it may seem. First the best tool for measuring your training progress is a note book or journal. I have been keeping a training log/journal since back in 1999 when I first really got started. It is by far the best overall habit that I developed pertaining to my physical fitness progression. Not only is it great for being able to see your progress and notice when it stalls, but it's also great motivation to be able to look back and see how far you have come over the years.


Let’s get back to the importance of keeping a training log/journal and the ways you can see and ensure your progress. Now the most obvious way to see your progress is if you are able to look at an exercise you performed during a previous workout and perform that same exercise again with an increased amount of weight for the same number of repetitions. An additional way to see progress is if you are able to do an exercise from a previous workout with the same amount of weight, but successfully complete more repetitions. Another aspect to consider when looking back at previous workouts in your log to determine progress is the order in which the exercises were performed. If you normally perform an exercise first in your workout (when you are fresher) and you instead perform one or two more exercises before it , but are still able to use that same amount of weight and complete the same number of repetitions as before when it was first this is still a great sign of progress.


So as you can see there are many different ways to determine if you are progressing forward and improving your health and fitness levels. Don't allow yourself to get caught up focusing on only one area or method to determine your progress. If you do you may get down on yourself and even feel disappointed. When in reality you are making progress, but you just can't see it , because of where your looking. When you fail to notice improvements in several areas then it's definitely time to make some serious changes to ensure that your body is forced to adapt and your progress will continue.

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