How to Effectively Track Your Fitness Goals

A while back we talked about creating SMART (small, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) fitness goals. It’s easy to choose a goal that is small, attainable, and realistic that can be broken down into timely chunks. However, measuring that goal often becomes an afterthought. These quick tips are designed to help you track your fitness goals effectively, leading to a better overall success rate for your fitness dreams.

Why Track a Fitness Goal?

Tracking your goals feels like an extra, unnecessary step, but it’s an important one. First of all, tracking your goal keeps you accountable for your progress. Measuring your goals allows you to effectively increase your intensity (we will chat about that in a minute). Tracking your fitness goal progress also keeps you on track. I find that when I don’t track my workout or my eating habits, I fall out of practice and eat more unhealthy and I don’t push as hard on my workouts, instead, I settle for being “comfortable.”

How to Track Your Fitness Progress

If you’re just starting out with a SMART goal, how do you go about tracking your fitness routines? There are several apps out there (Myfitnesspal is my personal favorite) that will track your workouts and your meals. Alternatively, you can use good-old-fashioned pen and paper. There are pluses and minuses to each fitness tracking method. However, the point is to get a general overview of what you are doing and how long or at what intensity level you are doing it.

For example, track your cardio by listing the time and distance you went. For strength training, track your reps and weight by exercise. The result is a quick snapshot of where you are at in reaching your fitness goal and what actionable things you are doing in order to get there.

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Effective Methods to Increase Your Workout Intensity

When you track your fitness progress, you give yourself a measurable way to increase your workout intensity. As a result, you elevate your fitness level week after week. However, when you’re increasing your workout intensity, you want to be sure you do it effectively.

First, only increase one element of your workout each week. For example, if you climb, run, and strength train, focus on increasing either your climbing reps, running time or distance, or your strength exercises each week. You want to avoid increasing everything all at once, as this puts you at risk for overtraining, burnout, and injury.

Track your workout by writing down which element of your fitness routine you increased and how. Try to focus on increasing in 10-percent increments. So if you enjoy a steady-state cardio workout at 30 minutes, increase that workout to 33 minutes and so on. Ways to increase the intensity of your fitness routine include:

  • Increasing the duration of your cardio workout

  • Increasing your speed of a cardio workout

  • Upping your reps for your strength workout

  • Adding weight to your strength workout. Be sure to only add weight to one “pair” of muscles each time. For example, add 10% weight to your quads and hamstrings one week, then 10% weight to your biceps and triceps another week.

  • Increasing the duration of your chosen sport

  • Bumping up the difficulty of your chosen sport. For example, tackling a tougher hike or a stiffer climbing grade.

Track this progress week by week so you can not only remember which activity you increased over time, but it also allows you to see your fitness increase over time, keeping you on track with your fitness goals.

Tracking your fitness progress is an important step in reaching your fitness goals. It allows you to be accountable, see your own growth, and increase your workout intensity in a healthy, manageable way.