You have your training program. You have your nutrition plan. You have your supplement stack. You’re ready for the new you. But how long will it take to get to your goals? Do you have those specific goals written down? Do you know how to track your progress?
There are quite a few ways people track their results. Whether it is by stepping on the scale each morning, trying on that old dress, or measuring several girths of the body. Most methods can be inconclusive at times.
So what are some effective methods of tracking progress? In my personal opinion, there are three methods that will give you the most honest feedback about your current body composition and progression.
1. DEXA SCAN
The first is a DEXA scan. This is a medical-grade body composition test that will scan your entire body and provide an array of information including current fat mass, lean mass, bone density, etc. It will outline how both fat and lean mass is distributed around your body, providing information on balance and asymmetry. A DEXA scan is very useful in tracking body composition which includes information that will dictate how your diet should be setup, particularly protein intake based on lean body mass.
2. ABSOLUTE AND RELATIVE STRENGTH
The second method of tracking progress is based on absolute and relative strength. Has your 1 rep max increased since your last strength test? Are the majority of exercises you perform becoming easier, meaning you have increased weight/volume in the past 3-4 weeks? These performance indicators will show progress in strength and potentially lean body mass. It will also evaluate whether the training program (or how you are utilising it) is effective, or if changes should be made.
3. MIRROR IMAGE
The last effective method I rely on is how you look in the mirror, or in specific periodic photos. Whilst tracking total body weight, how clothes fit, and girth measurements can be a good guide, none of those matter as much as how you look in the mirror and as a result, how you FEEL. If you don’t feel that you look better in the mirror, those other methods become less impressive.
We are always our biggest critics, so the final method of tracking progression can be indecisive at times. However, if a DEXA scan is showing improvements and you’ve made strength gains from training, it is a no brainer that less body fat and more strength will inadvertently result in looking and feeling better. So I guess I just threw that last method in to reiterate the importance of the first two in comparison to more basic forms of tracking.
If you can’t find a DEXA scan facility where you live, a Bodpod or Inbody body composition test is an alternative, however the results can be less accurate at times.
If you don’t currently track your training performance in terms of strength improvements, you should consider a training diary as well as periodic strength tests for lifts such as the back squat, bench press, and deadlift.
Article written by Armada Nutrition Athlete Denver Steyn. Denver is a strength and conditioning coach who creates personalized training and eating plans. For more information visit www.denversteyn.com