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How to Track Strength Training Progress for Better Results

Reading Time: 4 minutes 34 seconds

By: ISSA

Date: 2021-05-06T00:00:00-04:00


Do you track your workouts and monitor your training progress? Keeping a workout log, tracking body measurements, and monitoring changes in heart rate are essential components to strength training.

Tracking strength training progress allows clients to always know where they stand in their program. It doesn't matter what a client's fitness goals are. They may be related to weight loss, fat loss, or muscle growth. Regardless, having a workout tracker is important for clients to see their progress in a variety of ways. This includes physically along with data such as a progress graph to back it up.

Let's take a closer look at some of the best ways to track strength training progress.

Fitness Journaling

As a personal trainer, you know how important it is to keep a workout log for every one of your clients. It is just as beneficial to your clients as it is to you. When designing a workout tracker, implement using a fitness journal or fitness plan layout that is detailed.

A fitness journal may include a summary of every training session completed. This can be as detailed as you would like but is often more of an overview of each workout. The fitness plan might include more detailed information than a workout log. Here you might find a progress graph, calorie tracker, and some heart rate data. The more detailed the information, the more technology will need to be used. This is where a fitness app becomes useful for some clients.

Novice lifters will experience muscle strength gains quickly. Eventually, you will need to adjust their training program. By keeping a fitness journal, you allow room for growth and development. You can see what has worked and what hasn't. This allows you to progress each client accordingly. At the end of the day, it comes down to numbers: total volume and intensity, and sets, reps, and rest intervals.

Journaling components include but are not limited to:

  • Training volume

  • Training intensity

  • Number of sets

  • Rest intervals

  • Exercises completed

  • Reps completed

  • Workout duration

  • Energy levels

  • Stress levels

  • Time of day

Keeping track of training volume and intensity helps you choose the right frequency and volume for future workouts. It also shows you how clients feel on certain days and the mood they are in pre- and post-workout. This leads to adjustments to create an effective strategy moving forward. From here, you have data to adjust and you know what to change based on clients' best workouts days. External factors or stressors play a big part in this.

Body Measurements

In addition to journaling, keeping track of body measurements is a crucial aspect of tracking strength progress. Keeping clients motivated is critical to them achieving the results they desire. Workout progress comes down to more than just the scale weight. Body weight is important, but body fat percentage shows us more. Most clients have a goal to lose fat to some extent. Fat loss and body composition can be measured in many ways, some more effective than others.

The Dexa scan is one of the most accurate forms of testing for body composition. It might not be the most affordable or convenient way to measure fat loss, but the information is valuable. The Dual X-ray Absorptiometry measures clients' body fat, along with muscle mass and bone density. This is an effective way to track weight loss and muscle mass adaptations during a strength training program.

There are quicker alternatives to measure body composition and keep track of strength training progress. These include using a tape measure for circumference measurements or bioelectrical impedance analysis machines. An example of this is the InBody machine. Updating body measurements each month ensures that clients stay on track to accomplishing their goals. When strength training properly, clients build muscle and burn fat.

Strength Testing

Implementing some form of periodization into a client's program is what increases strength. It is important to look at the bigger picture rather than only focusing on day-to-day workouts. Long-term plans lead to results. The effects of months and years of workouts add up to the large successes. Splitting a program into phases with each phase building on the former is a key component to strength training. By journaling, you can track the changes that need to be made to progress clients.

This includes tracking the amount of weight lifted by your clients. Maintaining a log of how much a client can lift helps you and them set new goals. Aiming to add weight or reps each workout is a must for strength progress.

Testing a client's progress every eight weeks helps track and see their progress. By testing their one-rep max on lifts it's easy to see what you need to do to progress them using new max numbers. This is used to determine the next phase of intensity level. It helps you identify strengths and weaknesses. One phase may have boosted strength in a certain area but is behind in another. This tells you exactly what you need to focus on in the next phase of training.

Monitoring progress and knowing where each client stands helps you set reasonable yet competitive goals. If a client aims for a random weight or reps on lifts, they may lose a sense of satisfaction if it's too easy or they may feel like they'll never succeed if it's too difficult. Testing your client's current strength levels makes long-term success much more achievable.

Putting it All Together: Tracking Strength Progress

Without numbers strength training progress becomes slow. The last thing you want is for clients to lack motivation and avoid training due to not seeing results. Tracking progress will help clients stay consistent. These data points are not only beneficial for strength but also for overall fitness results.

  • Your goals

  • Exercises completed

  • Sets, reps, and weight

  • Energy and mood

  • Cardio and physical activity

  • Mobility and stretching routine

  • And more

Tracking strength progress helps build confidence in training capabilities. They become fitter not just physically but mentally and emotionally as well. It helps them become more conscious of their health and fitness habits outside of the gym. This then stems into lifestyle and nutrition choices that influence their quality of life.

Being able to analyze your client's workout log provides positive reinforcement. It shows progress over time, helping them stay motivated to continue to get stronger. In addition, it helps them understand what enough rest looks like for their body. This all plays into finding the right training frequency and volume.

Check out the ISSA's Certified Personal Trainer - Self Guided Study Program and start your dream career completely online. Gain the knowledge on how to instruct clients on the importance of tracking strength progress.

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