I get my clients to track their weight daily (if weight loss is their goal), as well as calories, protein, steps, and other health markers like sleep, stress, etc.
These all give me feedback as to how the program is working. If weight is trending down or up (relative to the goal) then great. If sleep is good and stress is low, then we know we’re in a good spot and can potentially work on more habits and practices. As a transformation is more than just a physical one.
But we all want flatter abs, leaner legs and arms and a shape we’d be happy to take our top off for.
And that shape won’t come from being weak. It comes from progressively overloading your workouts and getting stronger.
That is; finding the right frequency of training, volume and intensity.
Without these three we can kiss a better body goodbye.
So how do we work on these?
By tracking them and increasing them over time.
Now you’re probably wondering what volume, intensity, and frequency mean so let’s start there:
The total amount of weight lifted per exercise or workout. It’s sets x reps x weight.
i.e Deadlift: 3 sets x 8 reps x 100 kilos
= 2400 kilos.
To start, gradually aim to increase volume for 6-12 weeks, before taking a week off by dropping it to let your body recover.
The weight relative to your maximum lift. For instance, if your 10-rep max is 100kg, then doing 90kg for 10 reps is 90%.
If you’re unsure of your maximum, then there’s another way of working this out. Simply think of a scale 1-10.
1 = easy lift and feels like a feather.
10 = ridiculously hard and not a chance I can lift another rep
(most of the time you don’t want to be below a 7/10 on this scale or 70%)
To start, gradually get used to working at higher intensities. Never forsake form to improve intensity. If your technique is all wrong, then keep the intensity low to perfect the form, build and improve it before then loading the weight.
The number of times you’re training a muscle group. Ideally, never train a muscle group less than twice a week. 10 sets is the sweet spot.
i.e Back = Mon – Pulldowns // Thursday – Pull Ups
If you track your workouts you can categorically see if your volume and intensity are increasing over time, or staying the same.
If you’re increasing your volume, either by doing more sets, more reps, or more weight – congrats. You’re getting stronger and on your way to changing your shape.
When you’re about to perform that workout again, you can just flip back a couple of pages and see what you did and what you lifted for reference.
How to Log Your Workouts
Below I’ve created a simple outline of how to log your workouts. There are a few non-negotiables in there, and I’ve added a few more options for those more advanced. I haven’t added in the warm-up. But you have that covered here. To start with you need:
Order — The order of the exercises. Letters and numbers together mean it’s a superset. (two exercises back to back like the demo below)
Exercise — Do I need to explain?
Reps — The number of times you lifted the weight in the set
WeightUsed — The weight used, obviously.
Setsdone — The number of times you’ll complete the reps prescribed. This helps you keep score of where you are.
From the above, you can see it’s fairly clean and concise.
The line just breaks up the exercises, and you’ve tracked everything you need to start.
To take it a step further, you can also add in:
Volume — In this example, it’s (12 x 18, 11 x 18, 11 x 18) = 612.
Intensity — So this was 90% of this person’s maximum weight they can lift with that weight.
And if you want to be an absolute legend:
Tempo — refers to the speed of the movement in seconds. If we take the dumbbell shoulder press as an example which shows 4-1-2-1 that means the following:
— 4 seconds lowering from the top to the start position
— 1-second pause at the beginning before you lift the weight up
— 2 seconds from the bottom to the top
— 1-second pause at the top before starting the 4-second descent again.
Note: This always starts with the eccentric portion of the movement (the lowering phase).
There you have it, an easy way of tracking and measuring your progress to ensure you make noticeable changes to your physique.
You’ll want to repeat this every year and for every session. You can of course use a normal notepad. Just create the above and away you go.
My clients and I use my own personal workout log that has all the above and a little more. It comes with a weight tracker, step counts, a lift calculator, and more. It’s pen and paper which means phones are left to one side.
This has dramatically increased the responsiveness and effectiveness of our workouts as well as when they’re own within David Lloyds or their home workout.
If you need a way to track your workouts and enjoy using Google Sheets and not pen and paper then I have the solution for you.
I’ve created a fully customizable workout experience that shows the reps, sets, volume, and tempo to ensure you have all the bases covered. (You just need to download it first to edit your own).