Am I Getting Stronger? Getting A Handle On My Progress

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Dot Workout Log

My new workout log. Time to start tracking my goal of building strength.

While I track what I eat, my exercise tracking is lacking to say the least. It’s a good habit I never tried to reinforce. But without tracking my progress it’s hard to know if I’m actually building strength.

To get stronger I need to constantly challenge myself physically. That means increasing the difficulty of my workouts. But if I can’t remember what or how well I did my last workout, then how do I know I’m doing better?

Gaming My Cardio
I’m reserving August for my own 30-Day Challenge. I’m tracking how many steps, stairs and miles I walk, run and cycle during my workouts. Then I’ll plot out a course from my home via Google maps to see where I virtually end up.

I’ve done a travel challenge like this before. It was fun but I didn’t keep it up. But this time I’m determined.

I’m using my FitBit One to track my cycling movements. It does a pretty good job estimating distance during spin class when I clip the device to my laces. I’ll also use it for hikes. Some of the trails lack continuous cell service so my phone apps won’t do.

Speaking of phone apps, I plan to use RunKeeper, my go to app for running and walks. Not only will it track distance (nice to compare against the FitBit) but I can track time/speed as well. Part of getting stronger is tracking if I’m getting faster or increasing my stamina. I’m not trying to set land speed records, it’s just another data point to track improvement.

Building A Strength Log
As for strength training, I created a chart in Excel to track my progression when it comes to weights. I’m tracking:

  • How long I can hold the plank position
  • Number of crunches, push-ups, dips
  • Weight I can bench press, dead lift, squat, overhead press, rows, etc.

Today I’m hitting the gym to establish my current baseline. My goal is to increase how much I’m lifting by 2.5% each week, per Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength method.

I’ve got the tools in place to track. Now I just need to stay motivated to build this habit.

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