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Measuring Progress

posted on February 14, 2020


Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the discussion with a few of my training partners on the topic of measuring progress within our training programs. As lifters, it’s very easy to get caught up in focusing too much on the obvious; putting more weight on the bar. Although this feeds the ego, it is not always great for our progress, and can actually greatly hinder our ability to be our best. As an individual with the goals of simply looking and feeling better, it is very easy to compare ourselves to what we see around us instead of focusing on what’s most important. Every individual is different, and no two people will progress the same way or at the same pace. So if we stay open minded and focus on getting better at one thing at a time instead of trying to do too much, we will likely achieve our goals more consistently, while making it more enjoyable in the process.

A wise man once said “Life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon” (thanks Ice Cube). Our mindset for progression should be no different, regardless of if it takes place inside the gym or during everyday life. We do many small things each day that add up in order to achieve a singular or multiple goals, so why should our approach to training be any different? In the long run, we must think about our main goals. What is it that we want to accomplish, and what approach will give us the best chance of getting there? The best way to promote consistent progression is to focus on achieving small, realistic, and obtainable goals. 


Listed below are some of the areas which I feel are most important when it comes to making consistent, continued progress inside of the gym, which will in turn have a similar benefit to our accomplishments in everyday life.


1) Focus on your mindset:

This is usually the first area that we could benefit from. Focus on a strong positive mindset. Understand that things aren’t always going to go as planned, but that there is something positive to learn and take away from every situation. It’s up to us to decide the outcome. Learn to better approach this and you will see a major improvement in your day to day progress.



2) Refine your technique:

In my opinion, technical improvements should always come before increased intensity. It’s much more challenging to spend the time learning how to move correctly, but it will be much more beneficial in the long run. Every day before beginning your workout, pick 1-2 things that you want to technically do better than your previous session.



3) Build personal goals through increased repetitions or sets.

This is probably the easiest way to judge physical progress. For most people, I like giving them a repetition range for each set. For example: 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions. Find a weight that they come close to failure within that rep range. When they can complete all sets at the top number of repetitions for that range, they now know that they are ready to progress in weight by 5-10 pounds.



4) Keep weight increases to small increments.

If you do chose to progress by increasing your weight for a given exercise, remember that staying on the conservative side is always better than biting off more than you can chew. There’s nothing wrong with a 5 pound increase on your squat. On the other hand, theres nothing more discouraging than trying to progress too much and missing your goal repetitions. Be smart and patient. All good things come with time. 



5) Keep track of your rest periods.

I’ll be the first to admit that I love having conversations with my training partners and other members during workouts. However, during that time I could be focusing on keeping my pace up, which will ultimately increase my overall conditioning. Start with a rest period that gives you enough time to physically recover from each set. Then, each time you come into the gym, work to lower that time, even if it’s only by a few seconds. The less rest that you need in between sets, the more conditioned that your body is becoming, and the more you will be able to progress in everything that you do.



If we focus on these 5 things, we will always continue to find progression within our training program. This in turn will keep us progressing through our daily life, and kicking ass for years to come.


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