Tracking your progress is a key component to achieving success.
What gets measured gets managed and all that.
But there is more to it than that. Making progress has been found to be the most effective form of motivation.
The more motivated you are to train the harder you’ll work and the more consistent you will be. Consistent, hard training will yield more progress and so this positive upward spiral will continue.
To feed this positive spiral it is key to track your progress so that you can achieve the rewarding sense of achievement that spurs you on.
The questions is…
…what should you be tracking?
In this article, I cover the 9 metrics of muscle gain. Read it for a comprehensive list of all the elements you should monitor to ensure that you gain muscle and not fat during a bulk.
Using all 9 metrics gives you an excellent overview of the success of your bulking efforts.
Not prepared to track 9 different metrcis?
If I could only track one metric when it came to enhancing motivation to train it would be a performance based metric.
I’d use repetition maximum (RM) on my main lifts to give me the feedback that my program was working. For example, my 5-, 8-, and 10RMs.
Based on these RM performances you can project your 1-rep max. If these numbers are going up then you are obviously getting stronger and almost certainly gaining muscle (this will rely on good sleep and nutrition to be maximised).
Note. There are exceptions to the stronger = more muscle equation. Beginners can gain strength due to nervous system adaptations and more advanced lifters can increase strength by improving technique. Strength is a skill! But, by and large, more strength = more muscle.
From a practical perspective having coached people for over 15 years I know that everyone enjoys making progress and finds it motivating. Tracking your lifts closely helps to see your progress and keeps you focused. Even better, the app I use to log all my training sessions (and that of my clients) provides a projected 1RM off every set and keeps a history so you can see how this improves over time.
In fact, this article was inspired by exactly that situation today…
…A client commented how hard his deadlifts were feeling. I said I wasn’t surprised because they were another 2.5kg heavier this time. He seemed unimpressed by the “measly” 2.5kg increment so, I looked back over the data with him. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised (and a little irritated I hadn’t clocked how much he’d improved already) to discover that since we began working together in March, his 8RM deadlift has increased 188%. He’s lifting 1.875 x heavier for the same reps!
That’s fantastic! He’s not setting any world records but, he has improved massively. He was also suddenly reinvigorated and re-motivated to work hard on his final set of deadlifts.
Sometimes as a coach I can take it for granted that clients are doing great. I know they are doing well and pat myself on the back, but sometimes I forget to tell them. D’oh!
This little episode gave me the kick up the backside to be on the lookout for objective data to feedback to clients and show their progress because I know progress = motivation. More motivation means they reach their goals, I have a happy client, and I’ more likely to get a referral. Win, win, win!
So, if you’re struggling for motivation. Start tracking your progress and looking for the small wins. They soon add up to big wins!
If you’re a coach yourself. Don’t forget to remind your clients/athletes how well they are doing with some objective data. Trust me…they’ll lap it up!