Tracking Your Fitness Journey – The Basis of Decision Making

Contributed by Yongdan Tang, PhD
No training plan or nutrition plan can work all the time for all the people. Even from the empirical calculations recommended in the Nutrition and Training Pyramids book from Eric Helms. They are still starting points based on best guesses and past experiences from a cohort of people. To fine tune and make the plans work for your personal context, knowing what to do, when to do it and how to do it is critical. Tracking and measurement then form the basis of such decision making.

The importance of tracking
  • Waste of time and money if we do not know what’s working and what’s not
  • Going by gut feeling or cookie cutter plans usually deviate far from the target or get into “fuckaroundtitis” syndrome
  • We don’t have infinite time to start all over after working hard to execute a wrong plan or execute wrongly a good plan
  • Getting jacked faster by knowing what to do, how to do it and when to adjust. This is important as fitness is an uphill battle as we age.
Tracking of calories and macros
  • Eye-balling and guesswork are not reliable in the long run if inexperienced. And the nutritional targets directly determine if the current stage physique objective will be met, or not.
  • Tracking and measurement are skills that will get better over time. And they will become easier the more you do it. As there will be repeatitive food items and you will start to develop the sense for quantity and volume of food with their calories and macros.
  • Buy a digital scale, measuring scoops and cups. Standardize and simplify the food choices. Choose food already labeled with macros and calories. Such tips will accumulate the more you do it. And tracking will become increasingly simple over time.
Tracking of training 
  • Remembering the weight you lifted last workout is not the best way to indicate if you are achieving progressive overload
  • For people who can no longer rip benefits of newbie gains, it’s important to compare total work done of last week or last month to ensure progressive overload
  • Besides training volume, weights and sets, the fatigue level, muscle engagement and general feel about a particular workout are also good to record to develop a sense of perceived exertion so that in the long run, you will know how to autoregulate based on how you feel on a particular day. This will keep fatigue, stress and injuries checked.
  • Try apps like BodySpace, FitNotes and Gravitus. They are simpler than you think.
I used to brush away the idea of tracking, taking training simply as “work as hardest as I can” and nutrition simply as “eat all I can”. The reality is, that just will not work to achieve the physique goal, not even near.