5 Ways to Tell if Your Workouts are Working
Training is all about results. It’s like going to school – you go to class, you do your homework, you study hard and then you graduate. Hopefully you get an super cool job and life is set. Working out is the same – you put your time in training hard, you follow a nutrition plan, and things start to happen. Sounds simple, right?
Not so fast. Sadly, many people are unaware of what to do in the gym and it tends to show in their lack of results. I’ve done consultations with clients who swear that everything that they do is perfect yet they still can’t get where they want to get to. A couple of follow of questions reveal the fact that the client was never tracking their workouts, logging what they’re doing, and measuring the outcomes. Don’t worry too much – most trainers don’t even do this. Many trainers feel that friction will occur if they try to hold their clients accountable; so instead of training most clients simply get “exercised” by their trainers. But that’s a discussion for another day.
Let’s get back to you. I feel it’s important to empower my clients, and one way to do that is to teach them how to do certain things. For you, that certain thing is to learn how to determine if your workouts are actually working. Here’s how:
- Volume: Volume isn’t the button on the side of your phone so you can listen to Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch even louder. Volume is the amount of work you do in the gym or on the track. There’s actually sophisticated ways to track it, but the best way would be to simply record how much of what you do and increase it over time. So if you do four sets, increasing to five would be doing more work. Same thing with running: if you run 10 miles a week, then increasing to 12 is another progression. Just write your workouts done and be honest with what you log.
- Work Capacity- Work capacity is exactly that – how much work can you do. Write down how long your workouts take. For those not trying to get stronger, getting more done in less time means you’re becoming an efficient machine. With our example from #1, increasing to 12 miles a week but noticing that over time it takes you less total time to run those 12 miles, then you’re one step closer to getting in shape.
- Measure your waist- The waist to hip ratio is a far better measure of health and fitness than the BMI. It’s quite simple: wrap a measuring tape around your waist once a week. Just make sure to wrap it around the same spot and on the same day. Track the progress and pay attention to what’s happening: if you keep losing inches/centimeters, keep doing what you’re doing. If you go several weeks without anything changing, then you know you need to make changes to your training and/or diet.
- Clothes- Plain and simple: how do your clothes fit? If you’re consistently upgrading your wardrobe, then you’re doing something right.
- Scale weight- Something that we talk about at great length here at UEFP is the concept of scale weight. There’s a reason weighing yourself is at number 5 – if you don’t understand scale weight, then it might be best to not weigh yourself. But if you’re measuring your waist and tracking progress, then you can weigh yourself and still prepare for the ups and downs that can occur on the scale.
So now you know how to track your progress. Are you ready to get in great shape?