Fitness Tracking: How and Why?

When most new clients come to us for training, they typically

fall into 1 of 3 categories:

1) Want to look better

2) Want to feel better

3) Want to perform better

These 3 metrics are relatively easy to agree upon a baseline measurement as well as how to track progress. For example, for the first client, before and after photos would be an excellent manner of tracking progress. For our second example, we could utilize a daily questionnaire asking the client to record how they are feeling both energy and emotionally in the morning and again at the end of the day. Finally, for the third client, we would determine what areas of improved performance are sought out then plan accordingly with repeated reassessments to make sure the program is tracking as desired.

What if you are reading this and you are not interested in weight loss, or you feel pretty good, or you don’t really have a desire to improve performance? Do you need to track something? How could you proceed?

In my 20+ years of experience as both an athlete and a coach, I have rarely seen many examples where people successfully stick to an exercise program where there isn’t some sort of metric to track. It can happen, but it usually doesn’t. Our human nature is to always be progressing towards something. So what can you do?

Allow me to offer a couple of options. 

The first is simply tracking your Resting Heart Rate (RHR). Most people these days use some sort of wearable that measures this for you, and you probably don’t even know it. If you do, just create an easy spreadsheet and track the trends over 7, 14, and 30 days. If you don’t like to wear anything  while asleep, you can find your pulse in the morning before getting out of bed and count the number of heart beats for 20 seconds and then multiply by 3 to get your heart rate upon waking up.
If you start at a higher RHR (60-100 is considered normal but most clients I work with are in the 45-65 range) you can change your priority of fitness to be more aerobic. Then over those previously mentioned periods of duration if you see your RHR lower, then you know you are on the correct path.

A second option is to track your Heart Rate Recovery (HRR). Anytime you are engaging in a moderately to high intensity workout where your heart rate is being sustained at a higher rate (130-150 bpm) track how quickly your heart rate drops in 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and again at 2 minutes. Good HRR’s range between 30-60 beats per minute. Over time you want to see the HRR increase as an indicator that fitness is improving.

The third option I suggest is choosing a task that you enjoy and plan to repeat monthly. This could be a 20 minute bike ride or run or hike that is roughly the same distance and difficulty, or a 10 minute max calories on the assault bike 😉.  Track your heart rate during this. If you can consistently perform the same tasks but at a lower heart rate, your fitness has improved.

I have used each of these individually and even all together with clients to track fitness beyond traditional means. I would even argue that they are more relevant to the population that we tend to serve and will lend towards better health and longevity.
Feel free to share these with friends and if you, or they, need help getting this started give us a call or book a No Sweat Intro!

Neal Thompson, Treehouse School of Fitness