Well-carried out progress tracking leads to better results in a shorter time. By analyzing what we did and how we did it, we’re able to more accurately plan the upgrades to our workout program. We interviewed certified personal trainers to learn more about how they track their clients’ progression. We found some patterns, but also some controversies. Here’s the list of 10 factors most commonly measured by professional trainers.
1. Body fat %
The body component that many people want to get rid of. Most clients aim at reducing the unnecessary fatty tissue, or at building muscles and reducing fat at the same time. Body fat % can be measured either by using body fat calipers (this one won’t tell us much about the visceral fat – the fat within the abdominal cavity) or by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), obviously requiring more advanced equipment but also giving more consistent results. Body fat % takes first place on the list, as in the process of reducing body mass this should be more enhanced than the overall body weight readings.
2. Body weight
Nonetheless, the overall weight is important for numerous calculations – the already mentioned body fat % is no more than the estimated mass of body fat divided by the total body mass. The client should be aware, however, that the numbers on the scale are not the best indicator of progress.
Many people seem to pay too much attention to the pounds and kilograms whereas in fact the body composition may significantly change even if the number on the scale does not change drastically.
3. Sets, Reps & Weights
This one is very important as it refers to the actual performance during workout sessions. On the basis of these records, the trainer can best adjust the future workouts to the client’s improving capability. This is the factor thanks to which the trainer can estimate what works best – which exercises bring the expected effects.
The clients, on the other hand, will see their progress in strength, speed, endurance and flexibility faster than they will see the reduction of body fat or muscle gain. In terms of motivation, the records of sets, reps and weights create the picture of real improvement in the client’s general shape: they can feel they are faster, stronger, more agile and thanks to the records from the past workouts they will be able to additionally compare numbers.
Especially important for those who aim at muscle gain, but also for those who want to lose a few pounds of fatty tissue from under the skin. Trainers most often measure biceps, chest, waist, hips, thighs and calves. The numbers literally express how fast and how inntensively the client is getting smaller, or bigger, if that’s the goal. The circumferences mirror the visual changes better than the pounds on the scale. Yet another factor that should be more enhanced than body weight readings in the case of mass reduction.
5. VO2 max
A.k.a. maximal aerobic capacity or peak oxygen uptake. The V stands for volume, the O2 is obviously oxygen. This sounds a bit more complicated than the previous four factors, and indeed requires some more equipment.
The test is usually performed at a treadmill, and the amounts of oxygen and carbon dioxide are measured in the inhaled and exhaled air. As the workload increases, the amount of oxygen will also increase up to a point where it’s constant despite the more demanding level of physical activity – the point in the oxygen consumption is taken as the VO2 max.
The VO2 max index can be also estimated on the basis of Cooper test results or by using the ratio of the max heart rate to the rest heart rate. What does the aerobic capacity mean in fact? Basically, it gives us the idea of how effectively the body is able to extract oxygen from the air during intensive physical activity. This factor virtually affects the client’s endurance.
To be continued…
That’s would be it for now, but it’s not over yet. The other 5 factors of the top 10 measured by fitness professionals in the upcoming article. Those five already described don’t seem very disputable, but feel free to comment on the first five. The more controversial factors in Vol. 2.