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The Fit 5: Tracking Progress

Our fitness expert helps you figure out whether or not you're on the way to reaching your fitness goal.

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For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Twitter and Facebook Page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink, C.S.C.S, Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC and founder of TrinkFitness, answers your questions about tracking your workout progress.

1) Effective Chest Workouts— asked by Ronald Parham:

What's a good way to structure my chest workouts so I can progressively increase my barbell bench press?

“If you are looking to improve your one repetition maximum (1RM) on the bench press, it’s best to follow a tried and true powerlifting-style program as trainees from that world are truly experienced in improving that lift. There are many to choose from but I am a big fan of the simplicity of Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program. In a nutshell, Wendler provides a template for using percentages of your 1RM for different rep ranges each workout and ways to progress that from week to week.

In addition, I urge you to include military presses, external shoulder rotation, pull-ups and core work into your program as training those synergistic muscles will have carry-over to improving your bench press. Because, at the end of the day, you can only spend so much time on the bench each week, incorporate these lifts into the remainder of your program to aid in progress.”

2) When to Weigh In — asked by Chris Mezey.:

How often (and when) should I weigh myself to know if I'm losing weight?

 

"Your most accurate weight will be first thing in the morning after you urinate. This is the best way to standardize as the number will be less influenced by what you ate and how much you trained on that day, giving you a more ‘apples to apples’ comparison every time you step on the scale. I like to have weight loss/fat loss clients weigh themselves twice per week. This gives me enough data to monitor progress while not driving them crazy with slight day-to-day variations that inevitably occur with body weight. I usually go with Sunday and Thursday mornings."

3) Healthy Weekly Weight Loss — asked by Thomas Michael Anderson:

I'm trying to shed fat as fast as possible, but what's a safe amount to lose each week or each month?

"You can safely lose fat rather rapidly. However there is a difference between body weight and fat. Body weight includes muscle, water, organs and every other non-fat tissue in the body. When losing body weight quickly due to muscle loss or dehydration you are setting yourself up for a slower metabolism, compromised performance in the gym and health risks. A good rule of thumb for safe weight loss that you can maintain over the long run is one to two pounds per week. That number can easily be doubled in the first week or two of a new nutrition plan."

4) When to Switch Routines — asked by Travis Hill:

If I'm trying to get bigger and I'm slowly increasing the amount of food I eat, how much time do I give a training routine a chance before switching to another?

"That can depend on several factors including your starting point, your training age (how many months or years of experience you have training), your recovery techniques and even the training program itself. Generally, I keep very experienced trainees on a program for as little as three weeks. Beginner and intermediate trainees usually stay on a program for 4-6 weeks. This gives them enough time to gain some neurological and muscular adaptation to the program (a good thing!) without hitting a plateau (a bad thing)."

5) Benchmark Goals— asked by Bryan Livingston:

What are some strength and endurance benchmarks I should be able to hit as at 23 years old, 5'10", 160 lbs.?

“That all really depends on your goals. But shooting for a 1x body weight bench press (in your case, 160 lbs.), a 1.5x body weight squat (240 lbs.) and a 2x body weight deadlift (320 lbs.) are good numbers to shoot for when developing strength. A mile run in under 6 minutes is a good accomplishment. Even better if you can maintain that pace for 3 miles. Just keep in mind in the old “jack of all trades, master of none” saying. The greater the variety of strength and endurance qualities your train, the less likely you are to become excellent at any single one of them."

 

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