Progression- How to Track and Maintain It
On the surface this seems like a somewhat simple statement, however there are multiple variables available in order for people to track progression. Many people exacerbate the importance of specific variables such as scale weights and 1 rep max lifts, when in reality, there are far more ways in which you can progress that may not directly correlate with scale weight and 1 rep max lifts.
If you are able to perform an exercise with increasingly better execution e.g. better range of motion and stability, without needing to lower the weight, this is an excellent form of progression and one that is a key indicator of an increase in strength.
Increased repetitions/ weight per set
This gauge for progression is one that highlights the importance of having a log book of some form, being able to add repetitions to a lift, not just weight on a weekly or even bi-weekly basis is a sure-fire way to know that you are progressing.
Another overlooked variable when it comes to gauging progression, are you more comfortable pushing yourself? Do you feel good about yourself when looking in the mirror? These variables are some of the most important, being more confident in yourself will allow you to push harder and progress that little bit more.
Do you feel like your everyday tasks are getting easier? Such as lifting a heavy box off of a shelf etc? These small indicators are all excellent ways to gauge progression that will also allow you to appreciate your hard work.
Yes finally, the one everyone knows and the proverbial “be all and end all” of progress. Yes, it is important to keep track of your weight in general, but it should not be the main contributing factor to how you assess your progress. There are many variables that will impact weight, such as sleep, time of day, illness and menstrual cycles, so in my opinion it can be an inconsistent measure of progress if all other variables are not accounted for. It can also lead to eating disorders, poor relationships with food and a general poor level of self-confidence, this could contribute to mental health issues further down the line.
There are many variables that contributes to one’s ability to progress, the primary variable being consistency, the ability to incrementally make positive change to the variables discussed above will prove essential in the hunt for progression.
Below are my 5 top tips to ensure progression-
Forming good, positive habits through consistent routine will drastically improve your progress, making things such as food logging, consistent wake time etc second nature. Your body will also systematically get used to the routine and prime itself for things such as meals and training sessions if timing is consistent through routine.
As discussed in previous blogs, the importance of sleep in any capacity is paramount for maintaining a high level of cognitive function, sleeping better will improve digestion/appetite, mental capacity and recovery, all variables that are imperative for performance and progression.
- Food/ food quality
Fueling your system with consistent, whole foods rich in nutrients will have an exponentially positive influence on your performance and ability to progress. Improving variables such as digestion (leaving you less bloated), nutrient absorption, reduce in blood sugar spikes. Fueling your body with high quality whole food sources will have a positive influence on training output on top of the variables discussed above.
In order to truly make progression in the gym, a consistent level of intensity should be brought to the session, from start to finish. No matter the goal, you should not be finishing your sessions in the same state you started them, pushing more and more each time (in a safe manner) should be the approach.
- Enjoy it
If you do not enjoy something, the likelihood of you succeeding within the endeavor drastically reduces, find ways to make your training, diet and lifestyle more enjoyable and more suited to you. This will allow for a sustainable approach to progression, start slow and build positive habits that correlate with both your goals and lifestyle.
By Tireoghain O’Neill