Want to learn how you can properly track your workout results and know whether or not you're making good progress?
Knowing how to track your workouts and make sure that you're keeping records of your performance is vital to maintaining an effective long-term strategy towards your goals in fitness.
However, from what we've seen in the past, most people don't actually know how to properly track their workouts, let alone know why it's important to do.
That's why in this article we're going to go over why exactly you need to be tracking your workouts if you want to see real progress, how to go about doing it, and finish off by giving you some useful resources and a template that you can use to start tracking your own results, so you can start seeing results for yourself!
Let's get started.
Why Should You Track Your Results In the Gym?
Before we tell you how to track your workouts, it's important for you to know why, so that you have clear reasoning for the things that you do.
We don't want you randomly go around doing things without knowing why you're doing what you're doing.
Tracking your workouts has several big advantages, and it can actually make a world of a difference in terms of the gains you see both in the mirror and in your performance if you do it properly.
Tracking Your Workouts Simplifies Progressive Overload
One of the biggest reasons why you should be tracking your workouts is the fact that it makes your progressive overload much easier.
When you know the exact weights that you've been lifting in the past, you're not going to risk accidentally wasting your time doing exercises with weights that you've done in the past, and don't provide any sort of a new stimulus.
One mistake that many beginner lifters and trainees make is keeping their workout intensity and difficulty the same from session to session.
Never introducing any new to their sessions, and never providing their muscles with any new challenges.
This is a huge mistake as all gains, results and progress in fitness stem from the base of progressive overload.
Because put in the most simple way, your body and muscles grow when you put them under stress.
When you put your body through physical challenges, it realizes that what it's being put through is tough, and that it needs to grow stronger and better so that the next time you do this same exercise at the same intensity, it's not as difficult.
By not tracking your workouts and recording the intensities that you're training at, you run the risk of accidentally doing weights that you've done already.
Not allowing for any sort of progressive overload at all.
This isn't a sustainable way of training at all, as your workouts are going to be inconsistent and some sessions may almost go to waste if you end up lifting weights or training at intensities that aren't going to stimulate growth.
Instead, by tracking your workouts, you're going to be able to know at any given time the weights that you used in the previous session, the training session 10 weeks ago, and your performance at any other given point in time as long as you've tracked your workouts.
You'll always be able to select weights that are going to provide you with a new challenge.
And if you're not able to hit the weights that you've previously hit in the past, then you'll also know.
You're not going to risk thinking that you performed well on a workout, when you really didn't.
So let's make sure your progressive overload is on track.
Start keeping track of your workouts now!
Tracking Your Workouts Lets You See How Far You've Come
As with any sort of long journey in life, tracking your progress and being able to see how far you've come is always great to have.
When you track your workouts, you give yourself a chance to look back and be proud of the distance that you've travelled.
Fitness is a journey that lasts a lifetime for those of us that are dedicated and truly love what we do.
It's always nice to be able to look back and appreciate the hard work you've put into yourself.
Just like people taking progress pictures or 'before and after' pictures, you're going to end up regretting not tracking your results. You're never going to go back to those earlier stages (at least you're not likely to), so make the most of it while you still can.
Tracking Your Workouts Allows You to Set More Realistic Goals
Often times, people will set unrealistic goals in fitness and be disappointed when it takes longer than expected to reach those goals.
By tracking your workouts and seeing the rate of progress that you truly can achieve, you give yourself a better idea of some more realistic goals that you'd have a better chance reaching.
For example, some people might head into fitness, and after their first 6 months, set the goal of achieving a 180kg (~405lb) deadlift in their first year of lifting.
However, they would quickly come to be disappointed when they realize that one year is simply not enough time for most people to be able to work up to a deadlift at that weight.
Instead if they had been tracking their workouts and seeing just how fast they were really progressing (even with newbie gains), then they might've been more realistic about setting their goals.
Tracking Your Workouts Can Give You Motivation
When you track your workouts, you can see the progress that you're making. You can see how close you are to your goals, and this can often motivate you to push yourself harder in the gym, until you reach your end goals.
This is a great thing to have if you're the type of person that finds yourself constantly doubting your own abilities, or unsure of whether or not you want to continue pushing through your workouts.
Seeing how close you are to your goals by looking at your workout logs is extremely motivating, and is extremely effective in giving you the extra drive you needed to push further.
So How Should You Track Your Workouts?
Tracking your workouts doesn't have to be a long and tedious process.
All it really requires is some sort of workout tracking app, or a simple online spreadsheet if you like to do things the more basic way.
Tracking Your Workouts With an App
Using an online app is an easy and effective way to track your workouts.
Some good examples could include:
Some of these apps are free to use, and some of them are paid as they do offer more premium features such as calorie tracking as well.
Regardless of the app you decide to use, you should look to stay consistent with your tracking and keep referring back to it often so that you can constantly see how quickly you're progressing and see whether or not you're on track to reach your goals.
Most apps should show you exactly how to use their software, and it should be pretty easy to get started.
Tracking Your Workouts With a Spreadsheet
Another popular method of tracking your workouts would be to manually do it on a Google or Excel spreadsheet.
Doing it on a spreadsheet is going to give you much more freedom to track whatever you want.
You can track literally anything, and write anything you feel you need to write.
For example if you've got some extra notes about the technique feeling off on a particular day, you can write about it!
If you've got a specific note that you have to make about the setting of a weight machine in your gym, you can write about it!
You likely won't always have this freedom when you're using a workout app.
It's best to create certain pages on your spreadsheet and keep on adding to them as you progress through your fitness career, as this is going to allow you to look back on all of your workouts instead of the sessions from the past couple of weeks.
With a spreadsheet you can take up as much space as you like, access everything whenever you need to, and basically do whatever you want with the space.
You can even customize it to make it easier for you to sort and view your workouts, which is a freedom that lots of apps aren't going to be able to offer you!
Lastly, using a spreadsheet is going to make it easy for you to share or export your workout logs wherever you want to, which could be a difficult or impossible task to do if you're on an app, depending on the one you choose to go with.
If you wanted to share your workouts with a friend, or needed to move your data elsewhere, a tracking your workouts on a spreadsheet would make it extremely easy most of the time.
No Matter How You Choose to Track Your Workouts...
Whenever you can you should always look to track absolutely everything that you've done.
Many beginners make the mistake of only tracking the weights that they used, and not taking into account their sets, reps, rest periods or any of those other factors.
This should be avoided as all those other factors do have a role in progressive overload.
Making progress in the gym doesn't just come down to increasing the weight that you're lifting from session to session.
You can increase the reps, the sets, decrease the rest periods, and do a whole lot of other things.
If you haven't already done so, go and check out our post on progressive overload, which we'll link to again here.
So always include everything that can be tracked and improved upon.
And don't forget to take advantage of the freedoms that come with tracking on a spreadsheet if you use one (such as taking extra notes).
Useful Spreadsheet Template
Alright, now we can give you access to the spreadsheet template that we recommend you use if you decide that you want to track your workouts on a spreadsheet.
This one is premade for you, and only requires you to change up some of the titles, text and maybe the spacing to suit your own circumstances.
It's extremely effective as it's so simple to read, understand and use.
It doesn't take too long (maybe 1-2 minutes) to log in your results for your entire workout.
Plus, it's easy to duplicate the pages and create new ones, whether that signals a new training week, a new training block (for you more experienced athletes), or something else.
Oh, and if you want to convert it to use on Microsoft Excel you can simply follow the steps here.
You'll need to view the spreadsheet and then make your own copy of it so that you can make edits and change everything to make it personal to you.
Once you finish this log of 7 weeks' worth of workouts, you can simply copy and paste all of this onto another page and start another 7-8 week training bracket.
This is going to make it easy for you to track, edit and view your data.
Lastly, remember that you can adjust the sizes of the boxes to suit your own needs.
For example if you think the 'notes' box is too small and you'd like more space to write more inside, simply make it bigger!
Remember to log everything you do.
Reps performed (may differ from set to set).
Rest periods taken if timed (you can do this in the 'notes' section).
Injuries, pain or discomfort.
Form (for example maybe you had to cheat the last two reps of a hard set).
Machine settings so you don't forget.
And that's about it!
If we missed anything feel free to let us know down in the comments section below!
Tracking your workouts is an extremely important part of a good, long-term approach to fitness.
Blindly running in and getting your workouts done is going to achieve you SOME results, but leave you very limited in terms of seeing progress in the long run.
Look to track your workouts either via an app or using your own spreadsheet, as these are the two easiest ways to get the job done.
We hope you've learnt something from this blog article and have enjoyed reading through it!
If you did, don't forget to share it with your friends so that we can reach more people and help more reach their goals in fitness this year!
Are YOU currently tracking your workouts?
Let us know in the comments!