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Essential Tools for Tracking Your Training Progress

Essential Tools for Tracking Your Training Progress

If you do not measure you cannot improve. This is a simple truth but very often overlooked. Even with the best intentions, you will plateau very quickly if you don’t have measurements to support you when you plan your training. If you just recently started training it may not seem like a big deal, as focus is often placed on making sure you keep training. If you start measuring your progress early on, you will thank yourself for it later, and remember that it’s never too late to start.

one workout away from a good mood

    A very common misconception is that you will remember everything that you do, and that those memories are enough for you to make proper adjustments. This is definitely not the case: your memories will be colored by a lot of things, such as your mood, the weather, your workload etc, etc. When you try to think back to see what has worked for you, there is no way you can make sound adjustments based only on memories.—this is where numbers become very powerful: hard-recorded numbers and facts don’t lie!

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    Gather your facts!

    The number one thing you need to keep on top of your training is a journal. A journal will take the stress out of remembering every training session, and it will fill up with with solid facts that you can refer back to. When you want to look back and see what has been working for you, all you need should be in your journal. Below are some ways of keeping track of what you do.

    Pen and paper

    The old fashioned written journal is still a good tool, and it works for most people. Simply keep a notebook where you write down every gym session, every run, or Pilates session. Write down as much information as possible: what you did, when you did it, what it felt like, etc. The more information you gather the better. The pen and paper approach has one big drawback, and that is in the analysis phase: your notebook will not be any help at all when trying to figure out how everything fits together, so you will have to figure that out yourself.

    Spreadsheet

    One step up on the technology scale is to use a program such as Excel, or Google docs spreadsheet. You would basically collect the same information as with a written journal, but the spreadsheet itself will make the analysis much easier if you track relevant data.

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    Download Work Out Planner Spreadsheet

    Online tracking services

    To make it even easier to track relevant data, you can leverage the knowledge of experts who have already done the job for you. You simply open a free account with RunKeeper or Endomondo (for running, walking, cycling, etc.) and enter your data there. Analysis is also made a whole lot easier as the makers of the online service have done a lot of thinking for you. Once you have created an online account, the next step is to use your smartphone (providing you have one) as your data entry tool. Just download the app and get cracking. The great side effect here is that your smart phone becomes your stop watch, and the built-in GPS tracks your speed and distance. That’s a lot of tracking with just one device.

    RunKeeper –  More than 14 million people who are using this app to build a training community.

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    Endomondo – Make fitness fun with this personal trainer and social fitness app.

    GPS

    If you prefer not to use your smartphone, a GPS watch or similar is crucial for tracking your running routes and speed. You can of course do this by mapping out and measuring your routes and using a stop watch to time yourself, but although this works, using a GPS tracker means that you are free to improvise your route. Uploading the GPS data to your computer and online accounts is very easy as well.

    Heart rate monitor

    Heart rate monitors are great for knowing how hard your body is working and if your training is in the correct zone. Together with a smartphone and an app collecting data connected to GPS coordinates, keeping track of your speed and progress is super simple.

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    Foot pod

    The foot pod is a great tool when you are working on getting your running cadence up to the right level. When connected to the GPS in your smartphone, it offers lots of opportunities to see how your technique progresses through a session.

    Conclusion

    Having a journal is essential for putting all of this together, and if you go the smartphone route, you have a great way of consolidating your data. A lot of your work with summarizing your info is made very easy and almost automatic if you use your smartphone as the hub.

    What do you use to keep track of your training progress?

     

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    Last Updated on September 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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