Working out doesn’t work out so well if you just fly by the seat of your pants. Tracking your workouts is one of the absolute best things you’ll ever do when it comes to making the most of your fitness, and you’ll thank yourself for it.
When you track your workouts, you’re able to see patterns and growth. It’s truly amazing and inspiring to see how the body changes even in a short period of time, though unless you’re keeping track of what your workouts are and how much progress you’re making you might not realize it. By keeping track of your fitness, you’ll find that you’re more invested in the process, more motivated to keep going, and in general just more excited about getting fit and staying that way.
The bottom line really is that you can’t change if you don’t know what you’re changing. Keeping track of your workouts will give you the knowledge that you need to make the right kinds of changes in your life.
The nuts and bolts of tracking workouts
A big part of the battle is knowing what things to track and how to think about tracking. Though you might have a broad notion that you should be eating healthy, sleeping better and getting regular exercise, putting numbers to those sort of vague notions is how you actually take that step towards creating change. The more you see the numbers right in front of you, the more able you will be to modify them. Changing those numbers is a pretty powerful feeling!
We see again and again in the research that self-tracking and self-monitoring are essential components of finding success with any health and fitness program. You’ll know whether you’re doing as well as you’d like to be or if you’ve got some opportunities to do better and to improve your results.
There are some key things that you want to keep in mind when tracking your workouts:
- Setting goals
Setting reasonable, realistic goals that also push you and are based on your data is an essential part of the process.
- Self monitoring
Simply recording the data in some form for yourself is the core of tracking.
Social pressure has been shown to help your get more out of your workouts. As long as it’s positive, working in a group improves accountability and resiliency.
- Looking at your outcomes
When you track, the really helpful part is this one – looking back over what you did and why it worked or didn’t work so that you can take those lessons into the future.
You can do all of this yourself, or let an app or tracking program do it for you. Either way, you need to have a solid way to accomplish your goals.
Three Ways to Track
You’ve got options when you’re tracking workouts, and finding the one that works for you might involve some trial and error. Here are three ways to track.
If you’ve got a smartphone (and you probably do) then you’ve already got a way to track your workouts that’s you’re carrying around anyway.
There is some impressive functionality built into both iOS and Android phones today. If you’ve got an iPhone 5S or higher or a Samsung Galaxy S5 or higher, or most any Android smartphone that’s come out in the last couple of years, then you’ll find that your phone is equipped with a motion tracker that watches your movement as long as your phone is on you. These devices have built-in tracking apps – Apple Health, S Health or Google Fit depending on your phone. If you open up one of these apps, then you’ll likely find some data already in there just from your carrying it around. You can also log in your own data on these apps, allowing you to track the information that you need.
There are lots of apps on the market that take that built-in functionality to the next level. These apps offer you various levels of encouragement and ability, and some of them are really fun! Here are a few apps that are worth looking into.
Tracks your movements throughout the day, reminding you to move for a set amount of time. Gentle and friendly.
- Carrot Fit
If you want something more robust, try this app that gives you more rigorous encouragement. Snarky and fun, but not for everyone.
Keep your virtual pet alive with your daily exercise! Lots of fun and a little bit silly.
- Charity Miles
You can do more than just get fit with this app, you can help others. This app tracks your movement and donates up to $.25 per mile to charity. Meaningful and encouraging.
This is definitely the new wave in fitness tracking, and there’s a reason – it works. Fitness trackers take what your phone does to the next level, tracking your heart rate and sleep, as well as allowing you to track your movement. The market has recently been flooded with these new and nifty devices, which offer sleeker and more practical designs than they did a few years ago.
These guys were one of the first fitness trackers and are top of the market. You can not only track your movement, sleep and heart rate with some of the Fitbit models, you can also connect with your friends via their app or through their website. There’s also room to enter your calorie and water intake and to earn virtual badges and rewards.
These trackers offer nearly all of the functionality of the Fitbit trackers with a sleek design and a highly functional and complex app that will fulfill just about every need you can think of. Garmin has been in the business of athletics for a long time, and its fitness trackers are made with all of that expertise.
Streamlined, inexpensive and practical, the Jawbone will allow you to track your steps and your sleep as well as to use the smart alarm to get you notifications that you need to know.
The Old Fashioned Way
Then there’s the old fashioned way – writing it down. Yes, physically with a pen and paper. While there are lots of marvelous new tools to track your workouts with, things that counts your steps and track your heart rate, there is still something incredibly satisfying about a notebook to record your results.
You can create personalized workout pages online from Bodybuilding com. that will allow you to track the number of reps that you do each day, as well as other information. There are also some fantastic preprinted workout journals on the market. You can also just grab a notebook that you really like and write it down on your own.
While this low tech option isn’t as glamorous, it’s absolutely as effective as fancy electronic workout tools! The point is to get it all down in a way that you can reflect on the information so that you’ll drive improvement.
Results over method
It truly does not matter how you track your workouts, only that you do it. Keep in mind that it’s perfectly ok for you to switch up your tracking methods as well. You don’t have to stick with just one kind of tracking method.
How do you track the effectiveness of your workouts? Let us know in the comments!Read more