How To Track Your Workouts To Keep Getting Stronger

Here's The Best Way To Track Your Workouts So You Can Keep Getting Stronger And Build More Muscle

When it comes to building muscle and sculpting a leaner, healthier, stronger body, you need to workout. But that's not enough. You'll need to get progressively stronger over time, as well. So knowing how to track your workouts is important. After all, if you don't track anything, how will you ever know if you're improving? So in this article, you'll discover why and how to track your workouts in the best way possible.

"What gets measured gets managed." Ever heard that before? A famous phrase from Peter Drucker.

And it's a great philosophy to live by when it comes to health and fitness.

Tracking calories and step count might help you better manage energy balance.

Track your weight and other key measurements and you can objectively judge how much progress you're making. They're all very logical approaches, right?

But when it comes to tracking workouts, one of two things often happens.

Either you won't track anything at all, and simply end up doing whatever you feel like on the day (which is usually endless bicep curls or glute kickbacks). Or you'll disappear up your own ass with a fancy spreadsheet that takes longer to update, than the workout itself.

So what exactly is the best way to track your workouts? Let's dive in to the Why, What, and How and get you the answers you need.

Track Your Workouts And You'll Get Results

track your workouts iron paradise fitness

If you track your workouts, you'll get results. It's that simple.

Obviously, you've got to put the effort in when it comes to training. But consciously thinking about what you're doing, reviewing what you've done, and setting clear goals, is a simple, yet effective way to continuously make progress.

And you don't need to get all fancy. Using a pen and paper might seem like witchcraft to the younger generation. But a good ol' fashioned log book works just as well as the latest phone app. Plus, you're less likely to get sidetracked by your latest Tinder match when you should be squatting.

The point here is... Just track it.

Track Your Workouts And Build Your Best Body Ever

Here's an example of what you can achieve if you track your workouts and make continuous, steady progress. Jacques was part of my 1-2-1 online coaching programme, The Lean Life Method, and through consistent planning and progression of his workouts, was able to build muscle while dropping body fat.

Jacques Transformation Iron Paradise Fitness

Jacques Transformation Iron Paradise Fitness

And Hannah is a great advert for how a logical, structured, and progressive training programme to sculpt an amazing female physique. Far from looking 'big and bulky', she dropped two dress sizes and now looks better than ever.

Hannah Transformation Iron Paradise Fitness

And then there's Jey. Proving you can build muscle and drop over 20lbs in weight, regardless of how old you are, or if you work 60+ hours a week, like he did.

Jey Transformation Iron Paradise Fitness

Hopefully, by now you're in agreement that if you track your workouts, you'll get amazing results.

And you might even be thinking, "Hey Simon. How do I get results like Jacques, Hannah, and Jey." Good question. And I like the way you think. If you want to hit the accelerator on sculpting your best body ever, then you can check out my personalised online coaching programme, right here. Book a free call and we'll see if you and I are a good fit to work together. Sound good?

But if you're not yet convinced about the importance of tracking your workouts, let me spell it our for you.


Why Is It Important To Track Your Workouts?

track your workouts iron paradise fitness

Jacques', Hannah's, and Jey's transformations all had one thing in common. They measured and they tracked their progress.

Whether it was calories, body weight, steps, or workouts, they gathered data so they could be objective about their results.

They weren't guessing if they'd lost weight. They knew.

And they weren't guessing if they'd gotten stronger. They knew.

So if you're serious about change, and serious about results, then you need to put the effort into the basics to make sure it happens.

Walking into the gym for the first time can be an intimidating experience. Everything is new. The people, the equipment, the whole environment is something you've never experienced before. It's like you're the first settler on Mars. Everything is alien to you.

Putting yourself in that environment without a plan is crazy. The likelihood of you getting results, is the equivalent of a Tinder match with one picture not being completely mental.

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is THE MOST important aspect of your training to focus on, if you want to continually improve. Putting all your attention into getting an awesome pump to impress your gym crush or take the perfect selfie, isn't the best way to build your awesome body.

Instead, you need to consistently improve your strength over time. And being able to track your workouts is a key part of the process. Without it, it's all guesswork. In fact, you might just be wasting your time if you're not tracking your workouts effectively.

After all, you can squat 80kg for 10 reps for the rest of your life and you might build some muscle. But I guarantee it won't be the fastest way to that awesome AF body you want.

So tracking your workouts is about being methodical with your training approach and not just leaving things to random chance.

And with that said, what the hell should you track?


What Data Should You Record?

track your workouts iron paradise fitness

The list of things you could track is as long as my list of first date nightmares. But there's one simple rule you should apply when tracking your workouts. And it's this...

"Only track what you intend review, manage, and act on."

Because there's no point in tracking a shit load of data, if you never intend on doing anything with it. It's a complete waste of time. Here's a simple approach I recommend you follow based on your skill-level and/or how much you can be bothered to get into the detail.

The Simple Basics Of Tracking Your Workouts

At the most basic level, list out your exercises and record your sets, reps, and weights. Then, when you come to repeat that workout in the future, review what you did last week and try to do one more rep.

For example, if you smashed out 8 reps of 100kg on the bench press, next time aim for 9. The incremental advance in reps, is progressive overload. More often than not, you'll be working within a specific rep range too. So when you reach the top of that rep range for two sets in a row, increase the weight. Again, another simple, and straight-forward way of focusing on progressive overload.

So this is what that might look like in practice.

Week 1: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 100kg x 8 reps
  • Set 2 = 100kg x 8 reps
  • Set 3 = 100kg x 8 reps

Week 2: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 100kg x 9 reps
  • Set 2 = 100kg x 9 reps
  • Set 3 = 100kg x 9 reps

Week 3: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 100kg x 10 reps
  • Set 2 = 100kg x 10 reps
  • Set 3 = 100kg x 10 reps

Week 4: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 102.5kg x 8 reps
  • Set 2 = 102.5kg x 8 reps
  • Set 3 = 102.5kg x 8 reps

Track How You Feel

Another element of your training worth tracking is how you felt during each main set.

"Felt really tired leading into this workout and was as strong as a wet lettuce." Or "Absolutely smashed that set. I am a beast. I am a God. Up the weight next time."

Because I guarantee from one week to the next you'll have forgotten what the hell you did last time. So it's worthwhile capturing qualitative and quantitative data during your workouts.

Adding The Next Level Of Complexity

With your head well and truly wrapped around the basic method of workout tracking, you might look to step things up, and get a little more granular. To do that you'll want to focus on tracking volume for key exercises (or all exercises if you prefer lots of detail).

My educated guess is you have a specific goal when it comes to building muscle. For guys, it's usually chest and arms. Or as I like to refer to them... the vanity muscles. Ladies, you seem to want glutes fit to burst out of those Lululemon leggings and to top off your physique with nicely sculpted shoulders.

In that case, you'll need to set up your training programme to reflect that. Planning in enough sets, reps, and overall volume for those body parts.

And therefore, when it comes to tracking, you'll want to see how you're progressing in key exercises over time. In short, if you where to plot your training volume on a graph you'd want to see the line go up.

Track Your Workouts Meme

But before you go into all that, ask yourself the all important question we started with. Will you be using this data if you record it?

It might all sound brilliant, but in reality, if all you'll do is stare at it, not knowing what the fuck to do with it, then keep it simple and pay attention to those basics.

Now For Some Advanced Shit You REALLY Don't Need

"But Simon. How do I get even more technical?"

Jeez. You're hard to please. So if tracking training and exercise volume wasn't enough, you could go to the extent of tracking volume by body part. For example, if you want the perter butt, the more rounded shoulders, and the perfect pecs, tracking volume for these body parts could be a wise move.

Again, you want to ensure volume is continually progressing over time.

Switching back to our bench press example from earlier, the astute among would have noticed the increase in weight during Week 4 would actually have decreased overall training volume for that exercise. Now, there's an argument to say that you'd need to factor in the increase in load and the impact it had on tension. But from a mathematical perspective, this exercise has seen a dip in volume. So to correct that, an additional set could be added (or more reps).

A little like this (note volume calculations have been added for reference).

Week 1: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 100kg x 8 reps
  • Set 2 = 100kg x 8 reps
  • Set 3 = 100kg x 8 reps
  • TOTAL Volume = 2,400kg

Week 2: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 100kg x 9 reps
  • Set 2 = 100kg x 9 reps
  • Set 3 = 100kg x 9 reps
  • TOTAL Volume = 2,700kg

Week 3: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 100kg x 10 reps
  • Set 2 = 100kg x 10 reps
  • Set 3 = 100kg x 10 reps
  • TOTAL Volume = 3,000kg

Week 4: Bench Press

  • Set 1 = 102.5kg x 8 reps
  • Set 2 = 102.5kg x 8 reps
  • Set 3 = 102.5kg x 8 reps
  • Set 4 = 102.5kg x 8 reps
  • TOTAL Volume = 3,280kg

Managing Intensity Alongside Volume

You could also adjust volume by managing relative intensity. For example, in the early part of your training cycle, you might train to 3-5 reps in reserve (RIR). "WTF does that mean?" I hear you scream.

RIR is the number of reps you consciously leave in the tank at the end of a set. So 0 reps in reserve represents total failure, ie the bar has just crushed your chest on a bench press. 1 RIR would be one rep shy of that point. So you can use the RIR concept, in conjunction with sets, reps, and weight to manage intensity and training volume.

Of course, your other option would be to let me take the headache out of this whole process. Just like Jacques, Hannah, and Jey, through 1-2-1 online coaching I plan, monitor, adjust, and progress your training to ensure you keep making progress. Basically, leave this shit to me.

All you need to do, is tap some numbers into an app. Yes, there's a sexy app (more about that right here).


The Best Way To Track Your Workouts

track your workouts iron paradise fitness

So your next logical question is 'HOW should you track your workouts?'

There's 4 main options you can use. And there's advantages and disadvantages to each one.

  • Pen and paper: Low cost, easy to use, but might be a ball-ache to carry around.
  • Notes app: Free (assuming you didn't buy your phone specifically for it). But comparisons of workouts and tracking training volume will be difficult.
  • Workout App: Convenient and easy to use, but most are shit. The Iron Paradise Fitness App is clearly the best (but that's clients only). A good alternative would be STACKED (which I've used in the past).
  • Custom Spreadsheet: Complex to set up, but gives you everything you could ever want. Something I use for advanced clients. Typically used in combination with another option. Because, spreadsheets are a ball-ache to update on your phone, right?


The Bottom Line On How To Track Your Workouts

You NEED to track your workouts if you want to make progress. It's that simple. Throwing a few weights around simply won't cut it. You need to be logical, structured, and methodical in your approach if you want to sculpt that badass body.

Essentially, it doesn't matter what method you use to track your workouts. The important thing is that you actually do it.

Start with the basics of sets, reps, and weight. Aiming to better your last effort with each workout.

After that, progress to monitoring training volume for your workouts and key lifts.

And once you've mastered that, then's the time to get into some of the intricacies of it all.

Don't get too fancy before you need to. Simply aiming to build on what you did in the prior weeks is enough to help you make great progress. Hell, it's what I did when I first got into training. For the first year of training, my philosophy was to do one more rep than last time. No attention was paid to training volume outside of this. And these were the results.

Me Before Iron Paradise Fitness

Me After Iron Paradise Fitness

Only after those foundations were nailed did I step things up to take things more seriously. And that approach, combine with 12 months of consistent training and nutrition, delivered this...

Before After 2.0 Iron Paradise Fitness

So remember, getting stronger is your basic foundation of progress. Aim to get measurable stronger in your key lifts and you too can sculpt a leaner, stronger body, for good.


Your Next Step To Mastering Nutrition And Shaping A Leaner, Healthier, Stronger Body

iron paradise fitness

Here’s what to do next to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body. Simply click the link below and I’ll send you my Lean Life Kickstarter Pack. In it you’ll find a free 4 week beginner’s training programme (complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker), a guide on calculating your calories, plus so much more.

If you want it, grab it here.

But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.

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