Tracking Your Weight Lifting Progress
Do you ever feel like you’re constantly at the gym, but barely see progress? You bounce from machine to machine, then to free weights, next to the bench press, etc. Pausing to remember how much weight you benched last time, which setting the leg extension should be on, which exercise you should do next, and generally feel like you’re going nowhere fast. Sound familiar?
I was definitely stuck in the cycle of going to the gym, but wasting time wandering around trying to figure out what I should do next, how much weight to lift, and machine settings. I felt like I was going nowhere fast. One day I would be doing the military press with 15 pound dumbbells in each hand, then 10 pounds, then 20 pounds. Or better yet, I’d realize that I hadn’t increased reps or weight in three weeks.
I felt stuck, like I wasn’t making progress, for obvious reasons. How in the world did I expect to lift more and see progress if I was constantly doing the same exercises at the same weight and reps?
Eureka, I’ve got it!
Finally, I had one of those “aha moments” when I started working with trainers from Discover Strength. For awhile I was working out with them once per week. I noticed that each week my weight or reps went up, and my trainers were tracking everything. I was also making incredible progress in how much I could lift and in my body composition.
This was a different weight lifting program and I was being pushed further than I pushed myself, so I attribute my success to those factors. However, I do attribute a large part of my success to tracking my weight lifting progress.
Sadly, I no longer live in the same state as my favorite trainers, but I’ve continued to lift weights on my own. Once again, I’ve been seeing huge progress in my weight lifting and body composition. Why? Because I track my workouts!
I’ve always known that tracking my workouts was important, but didn’t realize how important. Sometimes I wonder why it took so long to start writing everything down…..Oh yeah, because I was being lazy!!
Soooooo, out with the lazy. In with the progress!!!
5 Reasons to Write it Down
Here are 5 reasons why tracking your workouts will equal success, plus a printable pdf to help you get started!
1. Quicker, more efficient workouts
Writing everything down makes it easy to plan workouts before going to the gym. I like to sit down with my tracker, see which exercises I did last time and choose which exercises to do next. This eliminates wandering around the gym wondering what to do next, how much weight to lift, settings, etc, and saves a lot of time.
Repeating the same exercises over and over again will kill anyone’s progress. By tracking which exercises I did last time, I can easily rotate exercises without having to think back to what I did a few days ago. This helps reduce boredom and makes it harder to plateau.
Tracking workouts removes the “how much weight did I lift/how many reps did I do last time” guessing game. Chances that we’ll remember exactly how much weight we lifted while doing bicep curls versus tricep extension during our last workout are slim. Take the guess work out so that you’re continuously increase weight or reps. I promise that you’ll notice progress in how much you can lift and in your body composition faster.
Writing your exercises down keeps you accountable. You can easily see when your last workout was, how much weight you lifted, and how many reps you did. This keeps me motivated when I’m having a lazy workout. If I see that I crushed my weight and reps during my last workout, then I’ll want to keep that progress going. When I wasn’t tracking my workouts it was easy to think, “Well, last time I lifted around 65 pounds on the leg extension, but today I’m tired so I’m going to lift 50 pounds”. Now I think, “I lifted 65 pounds on the leg extension last time. That weight was pretty easy. I’m going to bump it up to 70 pounds this time”. Instead of being a whatever workout, I feel like I’m in competition with myself to keep improving. This keeps my workouts more effective, motivating, and fun.
This is not a Rolling Stones reference, but refers to how you will feel when you start writing your workouts down. There’s nothing better than seeing progress written down in black and white….or blue…or red…or pencil…well, you get the point. Sometimes it’s easy to feel discouraged when trying to reach a fitness goal. Usually progress is slow and takes time. Tracking your workouts allows you to see the slightest bit of improvement. Maybe you increased your weight on the leg press by 5 pounds, or were able to do 6 more reps than last time. These are little wins that show progress, and will add up to big wins in the future! Seeing that steady progress will keep you coming back for more instead of thinking nothing is happening and giving up.
Now it’s your turn
Now it’s your turn to start tracking your workouts! It took a few times before I got use to toting a notebook with me to the gym, but now it’s habit and I wound’t think of leaving without it. You’ll quickly see how writing down your workouts will help keep you motivated, improving, and your workouts fast and focused. I’ve included a basic tracker to help get you started. It’s completely customizable, so make it your own!
Weight Lifting Tracking Sheet Click link to print!
I hope tracking your workouts helps you as much as it has helped me!
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