Progress is defined as “forward or onward movement toward a destination,” and in fitness it is usually related to a specific fitness goal. Evaluating progress allows you to track your accomplishments or if you are not making the progress you hoped for, it can help determine what you can do better to reach your goal. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain muscle mass, improve your 5k time, etc. tracking and evaluating your progress throughout your fitness journey is beneficial.
Tracking is the first big step in evaluating your progress. Based on your goal, you may want to track your everyday strength workouts with sets/reps/weight or how many minutes of cardio you did per day or how many steps you took each day. Whatever it is, you want to keep track of what you are doing. Some people like to use an app on their phone or maybe a journal; anything can work!
Tracking also allows you to challenge yourself from week to week or month to month. Our bodies like to adapt so if we continue doing the same things without “shocking the system” then we won’t see any progress. We can also track how we are feeling during an exercise, if you had a bad day and your strength routine for the day was not great, then write it down. It is important to know why you may not have made progress that week. If you get to a point where you are not making any progress, then reevaluating your goal would be the next step. Determine what can be changed and why was it difficult to accomplish in the first place. How can you avoid those barriers this time? Resetting your goal to be realistic and fit your lifestyle is totally fine. You want to set yourself up for success!
If you accomplish your goal and have made steady progressions, then it is time to create a new goal! For example, let’s say your goal was to run a 5k race in 24 minutes by running 3x/week and strength training 2x/week. And you accomplished this goal in 23:30 in a recent race, then what? You could set a goal to run a 5k race in under 23 minutes then increase your running days to 4x/week and keep strength training 2x/week. You could set a totally different goal and focus solely on strength training to build muscle mass. Determine your plan for accomplishing this goal and what steps you need to take to be successful.
Evaluating your progress is necessary in your fitness journey, even if you aren’t seeing forward progress. You can always reassess goals and determine what needs to be done be successful. If you are seeing forward progress, then challenge yourself again and work towards the next goal.