Progress Tracking in Strength Traininig

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Tracking your progress is an essential component of any strength training program. By monitoring your performance and progress over time, you can identify areas of improvement, track your gains, and stay motivated to continue pushing yourself. However, with so many different methods and tools available, it can be challenging to know how to track progress effectively. In this article, we’ll explore the importance of progress tracking in strength training, different methods for tracking progress, and how to use this information to optimise your training program because learning how to track progress is a crucial step towards achieving your fitness goals.

Why should the progress be tracked in the first place?

Tracking progress in strength training is essential for several reasons:

  1. Motivation: Seeing progress is a great motivator to keep pushing yourself in your workouts. When you see improvements in your strength, muscle size, or endurance, it can help you stay focused and committed to your training program.

  2. Identifying areas of improvement: By tracking your progress, you can identify areas of your training that may need improvement. For example, if you notice that your squat strength has plateaued, you may need to adjust your training program to include more lower body exercises or increase the weight or volume of your squats.

  3. Evaluating the effectiveness of your training program: By tracking your progress over time, you can evaluate the effectiveness of your training program and make adjustments as needed. If you’re not seeing the results you want, you can adjust your program to better target your goals.

  4. Setting realistic goals: Tracking progress can help you set realistic goals and timelines for achieving them. By seeing how much progress you’ve made in a certain timeframe, you can set achievable goals for the future.

  5. Celebrating success: Tracking progress allows you to celebrate your successes along the way. Seeing how far you’ve come can be a great source of pride and motivation, and can help you stay committed to your training program.

In summary, tracking progress in strength training is essential for motivation, identifying areas of improvement, evaluating the effectiveness of your program, setting realistic goals, and celebrating success. By regularly monitoring your progress, you can optimize your training program and achieve your fitness goals.

Training progress tracking

Progress tracking is an effective measurement tool that can drastically increase your training performance. By noting down and measuring your performance, you can verify the efficacy of your programming. It can be done in many ways, for example, you can note it down in a logbook, application or in Google Sheets. My preference is Google Sheets as it’s free, accessible from anywhere and easy to use. It also allows the user to export the data into a .PDF document on demand.

When I started working with Josh Bryant, I realised that he would tell me to write down the weights I use in each exercise, even the smallest accessories. I first wondered, how can that be so important and then realised the reasoning behind it. At first, I was sceptical but then I understood that noting down your progress in all of the exercises, even biceps curls can be just as useful as noting down the RPE in the main lifts.

Training transfer

Have you ever heard of dynamic correspondence? It is the training transfer. It allows you to compare how gaining strength in a certain exercise transfers to your main lifts. Let’s take bench press as an example. Assuming that you struggle with starting strength and determine that pecs are your weakness, you would typically start incorporating more chest exercises, such as flyes or pec deck and bench press variations that allow you to accumulate more TUT in the bottom range of motion. Let’s assume that the exercises of your choice are paused DB flyes and Spoto presses. Let’s say on week 1, you use 20kg dumbbells in the flyes and 120kg in the Spoto press. You progress in a linear manner and on week 6, you use 24kg dumbbells in the Flyes and 130kg in the Spoto press and your bench press 1rm went up from 145 to 152.kg during that time. Now you can assume that paused DB flyes and Spoto presses have probably helped your bench press. You now know that these accessories are useful.

Let’s now have a look at another example. Assume that you struggle with the bench again and as an accessory, you chose DB bench press. Let’s say you are pretty strong in this exercise and it’s definitely not a limiter. You start week 1 by DB pressing 50kg and at week 6, you’re already using 60kg. During these 6 weeks, your barbell bench press went up only by 2.5kg. Upon detailed analysis, you can judge that utilising DB bench press as an accessory and progressing in this exercise by the whole 10kg did not improve your barbell bench press by a significant number. Now you can say that this particular exercise did not contribute to your pressing strength in the main lift and exclude from your routine in the future.

As you can see noting down the progress in isolation exercises can be very helpful to determine if certain exercise transfers to the main lift or not but this is not the only benefit. Another one is actually the progress tracking itself.

As you get on with your routine, it might be hard to remember how fast do you progress in all the exercises. Remembering what weight have you been using on weeks 1, 3, 13 and 16 becomes a pain in the ass. As time passes, you stop thinking about what weight have you been using in every single movement, especially if some of them are not that important to you. 3, 6, 9 months later, you simply don’t know how much progress have you exactly made e.g. in Zottman curls and you can’t tell if you are getting stronger in this movement or not. In this case, you can’t tell if your forearms and biceps are getting stronger because you are not aware of how much progress (or if any) you’ve made during this period.

How can a Strength and Conditioning Coach benefit from progress tracking?

Remember that progress tracking becomes extremely useful when you coach other people. Since you can’t just get into their heads and read their thoughts, you will need to have access to at least some information to be able to provide meaningful feedback. This can be done only if you can compare the present with the past. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell if your client is getting stronger. The same goes for the technical analysis, if you want to comment on the technique and progress your client has made, you have to see the recordings of their lifts in the first place.

In summary, a Strength and Conditioning Coach can benefit greatly from progress tracking in several ways:

  1. Objective assessment of athlete progress: By tracking the progress of athletes, a coach can objectively assess their performance, identify areas of strength, and pinpoint weaknesses that need improvement.

  2. Individualized program design: Progress tracking data can help a coach tailor individualized training programs for each athlete. By analyzing an athlete’s progress over time, a coach can adjust training volume, intensity, and frequency to ensure optimal progress and minimize the risk of injury.

  3. Goal setting: Progress tracking data can help a coach set realistic goals for athletes based on their current level of fitness and training experience. By tracking progress towards these goals, coaches can provide athletes with the motivation and accountability necessary to achieve their objectives.

  4. Injury prevention: Progress tracking data can help coaches monitor an athlete’s risk of injury. By analyzing progress over time, coaches can identify areas of overuse or potential injury risk and adjust training programs accordingly.

  5. Performance assessment and program evaluation: Progress tracking data can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a training program. By analyzing progress data over time, coaches can determine which training methods are most effective and adjust programs as needed to ensure optimal performance.

All in all, progress tracking data can provide a wealth of information to a Strength and Conditioning Coach, helping them tailor individualized training programs, set realistic goals, monitor injury risk, and evaluate the effectiveness of their training programs.

Summary: How progress tracking data can improve training outcomes?

Tracking progress in strength training can provide valuable data that can be used to improve training outcomes. Here are some ways in which progress tracking data can be used to optimize your training program:

  1. Adjusting training volume and intensity: By tracking your progress, you can identify whether you’re making gains or hitting plateaus. This information can help you adjust your training volume and intensity to ensure that you continue making progress. For example, if you’re not seeing gains in your squat strength, you may need to increase the weight or volume of your squats.

  2. Identifying weaknesses: Progress tracking data can help you identify weaknesses in your training. By analyzing your progress over time, you may notice that you’re not making gains in a particular muscle group or movement pattern. This information can help you adjust your training program to focus more on that particular area.

  3. Goal setting: Progress tracking data can help you set realistic goals for your training program. By looking at your progress over time, you can set achievable goals based on your current level of fitness and training experience.

  4. Adjusting training frequency: Progress tracking data can also help you determine the optimal training frequency for your body. By monitoring your progress and recovery, you can adjust your training frequency to ensure that you’re getting enough rest and recovery time to promote muscle growth and strength gains.

  5. Monitoring injury risk: Progress tracking data can also help you monitor your injury risk. If you notice that you’re not making progress or are experiencing pain or discomfort during a particular exercise, you may need to adjust your training program to avoid injury.

In conclusion, progress tracking data can provide valuable information that can be used to optimize your training program and achieve your fitness goals. By regularly monitoring your progress, you can adjust your training volume, intensity, frequency, and focus to ensure that you’re making gains and minimizing injury risk.

P.S. If you want to become a strength coach and help other people achieve their training goals, you need to display certain qualities. Find out what they are here.

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