With big the new year’s fitness push coming up for many of you, it only makes sense that you’re going to want to know where you’re starting from, how far you are from your goals, and learn the best method of tracking your progress along the way.
For the vast majority, this means stepping on a scale, feeling an overwhelming sense of anxiety when the number is higher after holiday splurging, then making a plan to repeat this process every few days for the next several months. What you probably aren’t planning for however is the eventual loss of motivation and burnout that usually accompanies this method of tracking your progress.
In 2014, you’re going to kiss the scale goodbye and learn to start tracking your health and fitness progress with four far more valuable measures of your overall fitness ability and successes. These four fitness measurement tools are the perfect way to get an overall sense of where you currently stand, how far you’ve come, and what you’ve still got left to accomplish.
But first things first – this year, I don’t want you to pick a target weight and make that your goal. Doesn’t matter how much or little weight you’ve got to lose; a number reading on the scale is not what we’re after this year. We’re looking to impact four essential health factors, and by doing so, there’s absolutely no way you won’t hit your goals and develop the body you’re after.
Let’s get right into it and check out the first fitness factor we’re going to be tracking…
1. Waist measurement. A very wise man by the name of Jack Lalanne once said, your waistline is your lifeline. This man, widely regarded as the godfather of fitness, was really on to something. It’s no so much WHAT you weigh, but where you hold your weight that matters. When it comes to health, 150 pounds is not 150 pounds. If the bulk of your weight is fat, you’ve got your work cut out for you. This is why measurements are far more important than numbers on a scale. Track your starting measure around your waist and refer back to this over the coming weeks.
2. Strength factor. As I mentioned in a post last week, keeping a running tally of the weights you’ve been lifting in a workout journal is a fantastic new year’s resolution to make (and keep!) this year. By measuring your strength gains, you’ll get a better sense of how much muscle you’re adding to your frame. When the number on the scale fails to move significantly, but you’ve got up a bunch in total weight lifted, it should be clear that your swapping pounds of fat for pounds of muscle…which is a good thing and exactly what everyone should be after.
3. Resting heart rate. This one is super easy to do and is a great indicator of your heart’s health. Rest comfortably in a chair, breathe normally, relax, and use a timer to take your pulse. Where do you stand? 80’s, 70’s, 60’s? Maybe lower? When it comes to pulse, lower is typically going to be better. A high-caliber endurance athlete may very well have a pulse in the high 40’s. Shoot to lower yours over the next several months by utilizing a wide variety of uptempo workouts and HIIT sessions.
4. Max plank hold. Your core strength is a great indicator of your overall fitness ability. Not only does a great core help protect against injury, it’s also not a bad thing to look at! A plank hold is a static strength exercise that will give you a great idea of where your core strength stands. A great starting point is one minute, but shoot to increase this by three or four times over the next few months. But wherever you stand, don’t fret, increasing core strength is easy when using a well-designed abdominal program designed to core endurance and overall strength.
Take note of these four fitness factors for tracking your progress and become a smarter and more informed exerciser in 2014.
By learning to ignore that stupid number on the scale you’ll put yourself in better position to maximize your progress, maintain a high level of motivation, and be the best you can be.