How to Measure Progress and Keep Your Workout Plan on Track

When I was a middle school teacher, it was always critical for me to keep track of data, measure my students’ progress. 

How else would I know if they were actually learning what I was teaching? 

It’s the same for our fitness process. 

If you measure your workouts, you will figure out what works.

And you’ll keep track of your progress and increasing fitness.

The data you measure doesn’t lie. It isn’t subjective. 

Keeping track of your data can show patterns, progress, lack of progress, even when to take time off!

The data you measure keeps you honest and focused on your goal.

When you measure your progress, keeping track of your data can tell what you're doing right and what might need to change with your fitness routines.


How to Measure Progress of Workout Training?

Most people focus on measuring their weight. 

And measuring weight is probably the biggest waste of time. 

Sure, you’ll lose weight if that’s what you’re trying to do and you do it correctly.

But as you work out more, you’ll gain muscle as well as lose fat. 

Muscle weighs more than fat, so the weight you see on the scale can be misleading. 

Here Are Some Ways to Measure Your Workout Progress

1. Write it down.

It’s pretty easy to find things to record.

At the moment, I use a small notebook to write down the exercises I do in the weight room, the weights/ reps, and the time of day. 

I also write down bike and run workouts in my calendar. (Yes, I still have a calendar for daily to-do lists.)

2. Use a fitness app

When you measure your progress, the data can give you a sense of what you're doing right, and what might need to change with your fitness routines.


Photo by Luismi Sánchez on Unsplash

MyFitness Pal, Garmin, or, if you’re a WAC member, the WAC Fitness app, are great tools to help you measure progress.

My Fitness Pal offers a little bit of everything from training plans to tracking your nutrition. 

I keep track of my data in the Garmin app to keep track of my cycling and other workouts, as well as Training Peaks to measure my progress. 

I use Training Peaks with all of my cycling and running coaching clients as well. 

3. Take photos/ video 

Pictures are a really easy way to see progress.

If you’re working on a yoga pose, for example, take a photo of you doing the pose. Then take a photo of you in a few weeks after practicing to see how you’ve changed. 

Video can also be a great tool, especially if you’re looking at your form. Take a video of your squat, for example, and study the form. Ask a trainer for tips or suggestions. Then take a video again after practicing. 

Finally, before and after pictures are great for weight loss. You can be proud of your work. 

4. Record measurements

When you measure your progress, the data can give you a sense of what you're doing right, and what might need to change with your fitness routines.


Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

Especially if weight loss is your goal, measurements are critical. 

Ask a friend or a trainer to do some simple measurements:

– chest (at nipple level)

– belly (at belly button)

– hips (at widest part of butt)

– bicep (at widest part of arm or a certain distance from shoulder bone that sticks out, end of the collarbone)

It’s a bit of a challenge to measure these on your own so get someone to help you. 

It’s also critical to be consistent with how you measure. I use centimeters and a tape measure used for sewing. 

So What Should You Measure Regarding Workout Training?

The answer to that really depends on your goal. 

There are so many ways to keep track of your data that you’ll need to make the best choice for you.

If your goal is weight loss, you might use photos, measurements, and an exercise tracker. Maybe a food journal too would be a good idea. 

If your goal is increased fitness, you might measure your morning heart rate, your VO2 max, or a test.

Here are Some Key Measurements:

1. Tests. 

Again, depending on your goals, you can do tests at the beginning of your training and again after two or three weeks.

Measure your progress by testing at the beginning and end of a training block.

You can see how long you can last during Tabata intervals or one repetition maximum test. 

2. Heart Rate.

Check your morning heart rate at the beginning. Watch it come down with exercise!

3. Record the exercises in your workout. 

Look for patterns. Are you doing the same exercises every time you workout? Has the order in which you do the exercises different? Is it time for a change? 

4. Weights.

Are you lifting heavier weight? More repetitions? Slower? 

Keeping track of the weight data can suggest patterns and how well your specific workouts are working.

For example, is it better for you to do two sets of 8 to 10 reps or 4 sets of 5 reps?

5. Measurements. 

6. Photos.

Right now, I’m measuring my progress with resting heart rate and keeping track of my weights. 

The resting heart rate is a great tool to see if I’m training at the right levels. 

And I’m keeping track of the weight I lift to keep mixing it up so I get stronger. 

Do you have questions about what to measure and how to do it? Let’s talk about your goals and how we can work together to support you!

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