Monitoring successful progress is motivating, gives you routine and results. Tracking exercise works. A 2013 study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine1 linked tracking to weight-loss success. Follow these eight tips and be the best you can be!
- START BY SETTING SOME HEALTH AND FITNESS GOALS
Studies have shown that written goals help people achieve results in both business and in achieving health and fitness targets. Identify SMART goals, i.e. goals that are, sustainable, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed.
- TIME WHAT YOU DO
Set the weeks and months ahead to achieve your goal, e.g. 16 weeks for a marathon. Then set the hours of training you can do per week – three, five, seven? Then set the time you’ll allocate to each session, including sets/and reps. “Timing gives you structure, and you can measure success with time. For example, you’ll be able to run for longer as the weeks go by in a marathon schedule. After six or more weeks you’ll find you can do more in the time you set for reps. For example, you can do more squats in three minutes, or run faster in five,” explains Amplify PT, Tristan Thrower.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR HEART RATE
Your heart gives you the most accurate feedback as to how your body is responding to training. For example, your resting heart rate will lower as you gain aerobic fitness. Elite endurance athletes have a resting heart rate as low as 40 beats per minute. Knowing your heart rate will help you to work in the correct training zone. Use an app such as Strava to monitor the zone you have trained at, for example, your threshold, tempo or V02 Max.
- MEASURE INCHES, FAT PERCENTAGE – NOT WEIGHT ON THE SCALES
“It’s better to measure the inches you lose, than worry about pounds and kilos,” says Tristan, “as you get fitter and stronger, you’ll create lean muscle mass which may mean you weigh more. And weight can fluctuate depending on what you’ve eaten, what you’ve drank and the time of day,” he adds. “Measuring (and lowering) body fat is a tangible measure of success. Keep fat percentage within the healthy ranges,” he adds. Use the American Council on Exercise’s chart and tools to work out what your fat percentage should be.
- MEASURE STEPS FOR HEALTH
Measuring steps has become a popular way to measure activity at home and in the workplace. And moving can get results, as the NHS UK point out, “A person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn around 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3 to 5mph).”
- KEEP A RECORD
Keeping a food diary is standard advice for anyone who wants to lose weight and with technological advances this is easier than ever with websites and apps that will do the calorie, fat and nutrient counting for you. Measuring what goes in and what goes out are great ways of getting back on track if you’ve put on a few pounds. Apps such as MyFitnessPal can help you track what you’re eating and give you feedback on the nutrients you’re getting. And logging training using apps such as Strava, or Endomondo give you a reference point to see what’s worked and what hasn’t.
- FOCUS ON RESULTS
Reaching an end result, e.g. a race time, or a goal weight is the best indicator as to whether training is working. “If you’re a runner a good way to measure your fitness is to take part in a weekly parkrun.org 5K run. For swimmers why not try a 400M-time trial once a month? And for cyclists join in a time trial at your club for a fitness blast and a way of measuring your fitness and progress,” suggests Tristan.