If you want to stick to an active lifestyle and improve your health and fitness long-term, it is crucial to find ways to motivate yourself. Reviewing your fitness results after a few weeks of training can push you to keep going. Most common ways to gauge your progress are recording weight loss using the scale, or acknowledging body composition changes by taking measurements or calculating body fat percentage.
After a month of more, physical changes should also become apparent to you, including looser clothing and visual improvements when you look in the mirror or compare progress photos.
I also encourage my clients to keep records of lifts and their ability in the gym (or while training at home) so together we can access advancements in strength. As you get stronger, your body builds larger, firmer muscle bellies. This gives a lovely, attractive shape to the body, reduces cellulite, and smooths skin.
So how do you gain strength? By weight training using the progressive overload technique. Follow these steps to make it simple:
- Choose a few exercises to repeat consistently and record your sets, reps, and weight used every 2 to 4 weeks. Be sure to focus on a push exercise (ie: shoulder or chest press – or both!), a pull exercise (ie: dumbbell row), and a compound lower body exercise (ie: squats or deadlifts) to ensure you are keeping track of your total body development.
- Evaluate your efforts every workout. A good guide is to imagine Coach Julie is there during your set, and when you reach 10 repetitions, I demand, “Do 5 more!”. If you are able to complete 15 reps fairly easily, you should increase the weight used for your next set. The sweet spot for muscle development is 8 to 12 reps, and the last 3 should be quite difficult, never sacrificing good form. If you aren’t challenged, you won’t change.
- Increase the weight as often as possible and incorporate dropsets to help the body improve. A dropset is where you do the movement using the most challenging weight (using proper form) and, when you can no longer do a good rep, immediately grab the next lower-resistance band or dumbbell and do more reps. You can dropset down to bodyweight, too. An example is doing as many standard push-ups as you can from your toes, then immediately performing additional push-ups from your knees. This technique pushes the muscle closer to failure, which guarantees your body will regrow stronger and more powerful.
If you have purchased my book, The 90-Day Weight Training Plan (available October 2020 – pre-order today by clicking here!), here is a special bonus to help you stay organized with your training!
It is motivating to have evidence that your hard work is paying off with big fitness results! Taking the time to keep an exercise journal will not only give purpose to your training but safeguard your new active lifestyle when you feel like you may not be getting results. If you are following my tips on eating well and working out, your body is changing!