As a strength coach and a trainer of trainers one of the pieces of advice I give my trainers is, “if you’re not assessing, you’re guessing”. The reason I tell them this is because when clients pay for a service, we should be able to show them results. In order to give clients results, we must first extract some goals. The analogy I use for setting goals is, if you get in your car and don’t know the destination, you will end up somewhere. It may not be where you wanted to go, but you will end up somewhere.
Setting your goals
So, if somebody wants to lose body fat, we have to test their body fat, if somebody wants to gain strength we have to test their strength and so on. Now, on the other hand, there are clients with no specific goals. Some people simply want to exercise, be pushed, regain youthful energy and feel better. Those are more informal goals that we cannot measure and clients are perfectly ok with that.
So, is it necessary to track results in order to meet your goals?
The short answer here is yes…….. and no.
The argument for no, you don’t need to track results. I have had clients that came in with no goals, did not want to do body composition testing, fitness testing, circumference testing, postural testing or any other form of testing and they are completely happy and successful in their training program. They still see results, fat loss, inches lost, energy increases, clothes fitting better and more. They just got in the speed boat and took off. Just by simply taking action without a real plan or direction, they have still had a wake of activity behind them as a result. What I would say about not setting specific goals is, without goals and an internal motivation the longer it will take to see results because there is no deadline, no real self-accountability and no destination.
The argument for yes, you should track your results?
We are what we think. The more we think about goals, dreams and aspirations consciously, the more our subconscious tries to find a way to make those thoughts a reality. The people that are successful in life are the ones that set goals with a deadline, the ones that write those goals down, take action towards those goals every day, study how to reach those goals, ask for accountability and surround themselves with people that have similar goals and a similar mentality.
When we follow this process and commit to our goals we are immersing ourselves in that choice to be better. We create a sense of urgency and public accountability when we track our progress and results.
How should I track my results?
Depending on your goals, methods of tracking will differ. For all of my clients, whether they are fat loss, sports performance or strength gains I typically have my clients track their food for at least one week per month in order to make them conscious of what they are eating. This forces people to think about and plan what they are going to eat because there is accountability. If you are looking to get stronger or build muscle, tracking the weights you are using will be necessary because in order to get stronger and build muscle you will need to create a new stimulus (progressive overload by intensity and/or volume).
Unless you have a photographic memory, writing down your weights, reps and sets will be very helpful. By tracking your results it will also provide encouragement and simply provide feedback to show you whether what you are doing is working or not working.
Having goals can lead to better life decisions
In my experience clients that set goals, that have high expectations and standards tend to make better decisions outside of the gym and therefore see results. Sometimes they might not hit the specific goal that they set, but they make progress and that is goal. The goal is progress not perfection.
So whether you track your progress or not, the fact that you are taking action is a positive, however, in my professional opinion, I would highly recommend setting goals with a deadline and track your progress to see how far you can push yourself.