Charting exercise progress provides numerous benefits. You'll have visual proof of how far your workout routine has come; that, in turn, may motivate you to continue your efforts or even to ramp them up.
What Charting Exercise Progress Shows You
Each person has different needs when it comes to exercise. Losing weight is an aim for many people, but others chart their progress in terms of weightlifting success. Keeping track of how you're doing can only help you, and charting this information shows you:
- Weight loss: For people whose workout goals include shedding pounds, charting your progress from week to week helps you see if you're meeting your weight loss goals. Some people weigh themselves daily; others only face the scale once per week. Make sure you weigh yourself at the same time and preferably with no clothing on for the most accurate measurements. Seeing your numbers decrease as you chart your progress can be a great motivator.
- Inches lost: Along with dropped pounds, your body will drop inches as excess fat melts away. The scale is not always a good indicator of progress because muscle tissue outweighs fat while taking up less space. You might see more of a change in the measurements around your waist, hips, thighs, upper arms and chest.
- Number of sets: Want to grow stronger and increase your muscle mass? Recording your increasing number of sets shows how much more weight you're able to lift as you progress in your efforts. Newbies to weightlifting may begin with a small number of sets and reps; they can watch these numbers go up as their fitness levels increase.
- Stamina: Many people who are new to exercising find that they're unable to work out for long periods of time. After training for a while, however, their stamina improves. Charting progress in this area may show significant gains in the time spent exercising.
- How to challenge yourself: Say you can do 20 pushups, but you want to work your way up to 100 pushups. Track your progress with each session, challenging yourself to increase the number in increments of five or 10. This also works for exercises like pull-ups, jumping jacks, situps and more.
How to Use Your Chart
Your method of charting exercise progress may be as simple or complicated as you like. Pen and paper is fine for some, while computer programs or iPhone apps will be more useful to others. The important thing is to remember to record your information. It's helpful to do this as you exercise or immediately after so that you don't forget everything you did in your workout.
Include days of the week, amount of weight lifted, exercise time, number of sets and reps, your current weight, the exercise you performed and perhaps the time of day you worked out.
Finding Online Charts
It's easy enough to make up a simple chart, but you'll find exercise charts online that provide all the information you need -- all you have to do is plug in your numbers. Find free charts at the following sites:
As long as you work hard, you should see some progress in your fitness level, regardless of your specific aims. Charting your progress is also useful if you notice no significant improvements over a period of time. If you see a plateau, you may need to shake things up in the exercise department, either by introducing a new routine, eating less, eating more, using different equipment or taking a new class at your gym. Little improvements all add up to a big level of fitness, which should be everyone's ultimate goal.