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.

 

  • Sharing
    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.

Your Phone
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.

  • Human
    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.

 

  • Tep
    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.

 

Tracking Devices

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.

  • Fitbit
    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.

 

  • Garmin
    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.

 

  • Jawbone
    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!

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Let’s be honest – men can feel a bit intimidated or out of place when it comes to Pilates. Though it was founded by a man, has been pioneered by men and has become a hot trend among football players, there is a nagging notion that Pilates is a workout for starlets, models and dancers. Nothing could be further from the truth! The whole body training that Pilates creates, with its core conditioning and muscle development, is a great fit for people of any gender.

Men can benefit tremendously from a Pilates practice.

4 Pilates exercises to challenge men

The best part of a Pilates workout is that it’s challenging, pushing you to be physically more than you were before. Men who want to take their body to the next level will find plenty of challenge in Pilates, and here are four great exercises to help men get there.

 

Pilates push-ups

The push-up is a classic exercise for men, adding bulk and tone to the arms, shoulders and chest. Think of the Pilates push-up as the next phase in this very traditional exercise, actually improving upon the original and giving you a core workout in addition to the upper body boost.

  • Get on all fours on your mat.
  • Step your feet and hands out until you’re in a long plank, hands directly below the cap of your shoulder and feet flexed as your heels stretch backwards. Pull your head and neck forward in line with your pelvis, so that your body is a perfect line from your heels to the crown of your head. The time here on form is important.
  • Exhaling, pull your stomach muscles in towards your spine, keeping your entire midsection elevated and in line.
  • As you inhale, keep your elbows in tight and lower your entire body towards the floor, being sure to keep it all in line and your core engaged, so that your belly doesn’t come near to touching the floor.
  • Exhale as you straighten your arms back up to plank.
  • Repeat for as many reps as possible while maintaining perfect form.

 

Single leg stretch

This simple but powerful exercise is the perfect way to both tone your calf muscles and to stretch your hamstrings, as well as giving you increased hip flexibility. That’s incredibly important for men, who can carry excess tension in their lower body that leads to an increased risk of injury.

  • Lie on your back on your mat, arms at the side and knees in the air, legs at a right angle with feet on the floor. If you feel a good deal of discomfort in your lower back, roll up a towel and place it under your pelvis to push your hips into the air a few inches, allowing you to get the most out of this exercise. Don’t be afraid to modify exercises when you need to – it’ll give you a greater benefit in the long run.
  • Inhaling deeply, roll your head to your chest and follow with your neck and shoulders until they come off of the floor. Engage your core by pulling your navel towards your spine and holding it.
  • Exhale, using both hands to gently pull your straightened left leg toward your core while straightening the right leg and pulling it up off of the floor several inches.
  • Switch legs, inhaling as you pull your abdominal muscles closer to the floor.
  • Keep your neck, shoulders, core and hips as static as possible while you repeat the scissoring motion. Maintain a smooth and steady motion, repeating the breath pattern again and again.
  • Work to maintain control and form through five to ten full reps (both sides).

 

The Corkscrew

Stabilizing the spine and rooting movement in the core are some of the best benefits of Pilates. The Corkscrew loosens tension throughout the spine while strengthening the muscles that keep it in line, helping men to improve their posture and to feel more solid in their movements. There’s a reason that this exercise is a favorite among everyone – it feels great!

  • Lie on your back, arms at your side with your feet on the floor, legs bent at a right angle. As in the Single Leg Stretch, place a towel under your hips if you feel discomfort or tugging at your lower back.
  • Inhale, anchoring your hip bones and lower back to the mat.
  • Exhale, extending your legs and slowly circling them up to the left as a unit, keeping your pelvis still and not allowing either of your hips to raise up off of the floor.
  • Inhale again as you pull your navel down towards your spine, engaging your abdominal muscles.
  • Exhale, circling your legs together around to the right, again keeping them together as you complete the circle. Be sure to keep your entire torso and both hips on the floor.
  • Repeat five to eight times, then rest for a few moments and reverse the process, circling in the opposite direction.

 

Side plank

The side plank pulls all of the deep muscles of the core, including the obliques. It not only helps to improve tone and shape in the midsection, but also is a tremendous boost for balance and control.

  • Turn on your right side on the mat, pushing up onto your elbow and extending your forearm out perpendicular to your body. Be sure to keep your elbow in line with the top part of your shoulder.
  • Inhale, extending your legs out in line with your torso, feet stacked on top of one another.
  • Exhale, raising your hips and legs upwards toward the ceiling as you form a straight line from your heels to your head, neck in neutral spine. (If this is too challenging, relax your knees and slightly lower your hips.)
  • Allow your breath to come in and out smoothly and deeply, using it as a release to allow you to sustain the position. Imagine that a rope is gently pulling your ribcage towards the sky, keeping your tailbone in line.
  • Try to hold the position for up to a minute, maintaining stillness, spinal alignment and breath control.
  • Lower your hips and knees carefully to the floor.
  • Switch sides and repeat the whole process. Do not repeat.

These four exercises are just the tip of the iceberg for men who are ready to dive in and take control of their health through Pilates. Starting a regular Pilates routine is an incredible way for men to improve their overall muscle tone and control, as well as their flexibility. It’s also a perfect way to stave off injury and for men to get a whole body, core focused workout.

 

 

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Pilates is a flexible art. It can be done in your home, at the studio, outdoors or even at your desk. There’s no reason to limit yourself when it comes to getting your workouts done, but it is important to find the right fit for your routine so that you can get the most out of your workouts. Different methods work better for different people, and understanding what your options are will help you to figure out which one is right for you.

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Joseph Pilates intended for his system to be taught and practiced in a Pilates studio. Though mat work at home has become increasingly popular, Pilates in its original form requires equipment.

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Golf is a game of leisure, a pastime that encourages loose movements and long walks. Even with the relaxed pace, golfers are still passionate about making their golf game as great as it can be. The Pilates work that’s done in the studio or on the mat allows golfers to enjoy the game even more and for the long haul.

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