Updated: Jan 22, 2022
So you've been working out for a while now. Maybe it's been a couple of months. Maybe you think you've hit a plateau in your muscle building journey. Whatever the case is, it's normal to think that we've stopped making progress in the gym. it happens to everybody.
What's important, however, is that you know the signs of progress in the gym, and can determine whether you're actually progressing, or whether you might need to reevaluate what you're doing in the gym and look to change it up a little.
In this post, we'll go over the 7 best indicators of progress in the gym, and how you can determine whether or not you're actually improving at what you do.
Signs of Progress in the Gym
You're Getting Stronger
The first and probably most obvious sign of progress would be your strength gains. If you've been able to increase the weight that you can lift for the same amount of reps, do more reps with that weight, add an extra set, or decrease rest periods and reach the same workout volume, you're making progress.
Even if you're not seeing massive gains in the mirror, you'll know that you are at least on the way to seeing new muscle gains. Muscular growth is primarily caused by mechanical tension, which is basically the weight and stress that we apply onto our muscles.
If you've been able to increase the weight that you were lifting on a given exercise in the past couple of months at all, you will have built new muscle. And if you're just starting to get stronger, don't worry, progress in the mirror is sure to come.
It doesn't just have to mean the weight that you lift in the gym either. If you're a runner, decreasing your mile or run time is a surefire way to know that you're making progress. If you're a CrossFit athlete, increasing the number of kipping pull ups you can do in single set is a great indicator that you're making progress.
Even if you don't always feel like you're improving at what you do, simply look at the numbers you're putting up.
To make tracking your progress as easy and simple as possible, we recommend using spreadsheets of logbooks to record your results after every workout session. Whether you're a runner, cyclist, powerlifter or bodybuilder, you can track your progress appropriately.
You're Gaining or Losing Weight
Another clear indicator of your progress in the gym would be the numbers you see on the scale. Now, we will warn you, a scale can sometimes be very misleading if you're not able to tell the difference in the mirror.
Let's say for example, a person weighed 80kg or 176lb at the beginning of their fitness journey, and wanted to look fitter and stronger. If this person went on to lose 2.5kg or 5lb of fat, and built 2.5kg or 5lb of muscle over the course of a year, the scale would read the same. And while the number is the same, it's clear that this person's body would look extremely different to how it did a year ago.
Whether this person was a man or a woman, they would look much stronger and much fitter than they did previously. So you see, you can't always trust the scale. You have to take into account your physique in the mirror as well.
However, by gaining or losing weight, we're talking about more specific goals such as just fat loss, or bulking. In that case, then the scale is a clear indicator of whether or not you're making progress in the gym.
If you've lost weight, and that was your primary goal, then that should be a clear sign that you're making progress. Likewise, if you've gained weight and look bigger in the mirror, and that was your primary goal, then that should be a clear sign that you're making progress.
Your Clothes Fit Better
If you're starting to find that your clothing fits you better, this is a sign that you're reaching your goals and heading in the right direction. Whether your arms are starting to fill out the sleeves of your oversized shirt, or your trusty pair of jeans fit better around your legs, improved fitting of your clothes is a great sign of progress.
And this can go for fat loss as well. Maybe your shirts aren't as tight around your waist anymore. Maybe your dress starts to look and fit better. This will all go in conjunction with your weight loss/gain. If you like what you see on the scale, you'll like what you see in the mirror.
You Feel More Confident
Next up on this list, we have your confidence. if you're noticing that you walk around with your head held higher, or you've gotten better at speaking to people, it's likely that your confidence has increased.
A study conducted by Lauren E. Salci found that women tend to feel more confident right after they finish a workout.
If you've been able to improve your fitness in any way, you'll be more confident in yourself and how you approach everyday situations. Whether you got stronger, built more muscle, became a fitter athlete, etc.
So if you've noticed that your everyday mannerisms have improved, and you're feeling like a more confident person, that's a great indication that you're making progress in the gym. Even if you don't feel or see it straight away. You can rest assured knowing that you are indeed moving forward.
You Feel More Energized
Working out has been shown in studies to boost overall energy levels. And while this may seem to contradict the purpose of a workout, which does make us tired after all, it's a good sign that you're making progress in the gym.
You see, as you start to get into better shape and eat better you'll quickly notice your energy levels start to skyrocket.
You might start to notice that you get out of bed quicker in the morning. Maybe you find yourself performing better at work, and not feeling tired all the time. Whatever it is that you might notice, increases in overall energy levels are a great sign of progress in your fitness journey.
Other People Notice Changes
Even if you haven't noticed any of these signs so far, if other people have, chances are, you're making good progress.
We often turn a blind eye towards our own work, and find it hard to notice changes or things that are out of the ordinary.
Sort of like how when we were in school, we'd often miss spelling mistakes in our own essays right under our noses, but have our mates pick them up in an instant.
If you haven't noticed any changes in your body or performance, but the people around you have, that's a great sign that you're improving! And no, they're not 'just being nice'. If you notice that people around you start pointing out changes, you're on the right track.
So think over the past couple of weeks. Has anybody told you that you look different? Has anybody told you that they were impressed with your strength gains in the gym?
Maybe someone told you that you seemed more confident and well-spoken at a gathering!
Whatever it may be, chances are, someone has noticed changes in you that you missed. And that is a great indicator that you're making progress, even if you don't think you are.
You're Enjoying Your Workouts More
Last but not least on this list, you're having more fun during your workouts. Maybe you're feeling more motivated than you did before. Maybe you actually look forward to your workouts now. Or maybe your sessions are starting to feel shorter, and you wish you could stay for longer.
The thing is, if you're starting to enjoy your workouts more, that's a telltale sign that you're making progress in the gym. As you form habits, workouts get easier. And we all know that we tend to like the things that we're good at. So liking your workouts and having fun is a great way to know you're moving forwards.
Once you reach the point where fitness and working out becomes a hobby or pastime more than it is a chore, you've found the sweet spot.
Overall, progress will come and go throughout your fitness journey. Sometimes, it'll be extremely clear to see, and other times, you'll be sitting on your bed wondering whether or not it's worth it.
And next time you struggle to see progress in the mirror or your performance, just check over these 7 telltale signs that you're improving!
We hope you've learnt something from this post, and consider sharing it with your friends if you found it interesting!
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