5 Ways To Track Progress WITHOUT Using A Scale

Many people focus solely on the scale to measure their progress, while the scale is a great tool and will show if you are headed in the right direction over-time, there are many other ways to measure progress that are less harsh on you mentally.

If you are someone who gets obsessed or overly disappointed when weighing yourself, these five ways to measure progress may be a better option for you.

  1. Progress Pictures

This is a very underrated way to track results and can be a great tool to measuring your progress. If you are strength training while pursuing weight loss, your weight on the scale will fluctuate greatly because you will be gaining muscle, while losing body fat.

A progress picture can show how your body composition is changing, and gives you a visual of you heading in the right direction without relying on a scale.

2. Tracking Your Strength Increases in The Gym

Another underrated but useful tool of progress, is keeping track of your weights in the gym and whether or not you are increasing reps or weight as time goes on. If you are increasing your performance in the gym, there is almost always a chance that you’re headed in the right direction with lose in body fat and increases in muscle gain.

3. Tape Measurements

This method of tracking progress is great because you don’t have to update it weekly or daily, but more on a monthly basis. The scale is tempting to update weekly and even sometimes daily for most of us which can cause a negative impact on the way you look at yourself.

We suggest measuring the places you’d like to see decrease or increase the most in inches, and then updating them once per month to see if you are on the right track.

4. Body Fat Percentage

Although there aren’t many accurate and easy ways to measure body fat percentage, it is a great tool to give you a baseline of where you are and something you don’t have to track on a frequent basis.

If you don’t have access a DEXA scan near you, you can use an electronic body fat reader or pinchers. Remember if you choose not to use a DEXA scan, you will not get 100% accuracy, but a range that you could be in.

5. Clothing

This may seem simple and silly, but being able to fit into old clothes is a GREAT way to measure progress. If the scale hasn’t budged, but you can fit into your favorite pair of old jeans, thats a sign that you have changed your body composition in a positive way.

Remember, the scale should never be your main focus while on your fitness journey. It is just a number and does not determine your self-worth or progress being made. Stay consistent with working out and eating healthy, and your goals will happen! This has to be a long-term lifestyle, not just a short term fix.

Understanding Muscle Gain: How Much Can You Gain in A Year?

Setting realistic fitness goals for the year can be more challenging than you think, at the studio we often hear clients say they’d like to get to their goal weight and physique within a matter of a few months. Obviously there are tons of variables when it comes to how realistic a persons goals are for building muscle or hitting their goal weight – but there are a lot of things to think about when it comes to setting a REALISTIC goal for yourself.

How Much Muscle Can You Gain Each Year of Strength Training

We are commonly mis-informed when it comes to how much muscle you can actually build from eating and working out correctly. Unfortunately the fitness industry has been filled with fad diets and bogus workout programs that promise you massive amounts of results when the reality is that, they are just trying to make money and will say whatever sounds good so you buy their product. Lets take a look at some proven facts when it comes to how much muscle you can build per year.

Beginners: This is someone who has just began their strength training journey, has little lean muscle mass relative to their weight, and does not have good muscular control. You are considered a beginner for the first 1-2 years of strength training – within the first year MOST people can expect to see 5-15lbs of lean muscle gain.

 The second year will be slightly less than the first, but usually you will see significant increases in lean mass when you are in this phase due to the body making quick adaptations to your change in lifestyle/stress put on the body (AKA increasing muscle).

Intermediate: A client who is entering the intermediate stages of weight training will most likely be in this phase from 3-5 years weight lifting. This is the stage where you get more efficient when it comes to movements in the gym and are pushing significantly more weight in the gym than the average person. You also will have noticeably more muscle mass than the average person due to muscle maturity and density of the muscle tissues.

Someone in this stage can expect to see 2-5lbs increase in lean muscle mass per year, as you see it is significantly less than a beginner. This is due the body already being accustomed to the individuals routine of going to the gym, leading to less adaptions made.

Advanced: As you can already see, the more years spent consistently working out, the less and less muscle mass you will gain each year. Even though it sounds disappointing, you would be surprised how much just 1lb of muscle can actually change your whole body! Not only will you have more definition, if you are eating correctly you will most likely lose body fat as a reaction to the increased lean mass on your body.

People in this category usually have been weight training consistently without time off for 5+ years and have near perfect form, years of experience, and years of piling on layers of muscle mass. You can expect to see .5-2lbs lean muscle mass added per year once you have reached this level.

As always, remember these are estimates and can change depending on the individual. Experience, genetics, past eating habits, and current eating habits play a large role in how much muscle you can truly gain.

Hopefully this makes you think twice before hitting that buy button from your favorite fitness influencers new fad diet. Hire a trainer, understand the science of exercise and nutrition, and keep doing scientifically proven workouts/dieting methods for years – thats how you get results! Thanks for reading.

Put The Pull Back in Your Pull-Up

Pull-ups might be considered the hardest body weight movement exercise that exists. Not only does it challenge your back, arms, and shoulders to raise yourself up to the bar, but the most difficult element is probably how it challenges your core. Once you’re holding onto that bar and your feet leave the floor, gravity begins pulling your entire torso down from your hands. Your torso is now being stretched and lengthening by your own body weight, constricting your abdomen’s free space, leaving your lungs struggling to fill themselves up with air against the weight of your body and gravity pulling everything down and tight.

I’ve thought for a while now that the primary struggle people have with doing pull-ups is not just the lack of strength in being able to pull themselves up to the bar, but from the panic signals being sent from their brain when the lungs suddenly begin to struggle to get oxygen. There are not many exercises that place this demand on your body and mind. Therefore the trainers at Innovative Health and Fitness have come up with a routine to address building up both the physical strength needed to do a pull-up as well as the mental fortitude needed to control yourself in that position.

The best way to get started is by practicing the negative part of the pull-up, a.k.a. the lowering down part, with your feet on the ground. This will get you more familiar and comfortable with your pull-up position while building up strength. Use a smith machine or adjustable squat rack and set the bar at shoulder height. From here get your hands just wider than shoulder width on the bar and set your feet in a squat position under the bar. The pull part of the exercise has you coming out of a squat position bringing the top of your chest to the bar but your legs are doing most of the work. But as you lower yourself down don’t let your legs assist you, instead use your upper body as much as possible to lower you back down into your squat using a slow 5 second count. Practice doing as many reps as you can so you get stronger and feel more comfortable in both the top and bottom positions of your pull-up.

A very straight forward but effective way to build up basic pull-up strength is to do lat pull downs, which basically mimics the movement of a pull-up. Try doing both the traditional wide grip but also the closer, underhand grip, like doing a chin-up, to build up biceps as well.

Once you feel comfortable with the overall form of a pull-up you need to start adding in the element of core strength and stabilization. Inverted rows will address both strength in your back, shoulders, and arms while also challenging the core to keep you engaged and finding a breathing pattern that doesn’t leave your lungs struggling for oxygen. For these you will need to figure out what height to place the bar at depending on your personal strength level. But as you see in the video, your body should be as horizontal as your strength will allow as you row yourself up to the bar. You should be aiming for 10 to 20 reps for these.

Part of getting comfortable with your pull-up position is going to simply be getting used to the feeling of gravity pulling on you from that bar. So practice hanging from the bar. See if you can retract your shoulder blades and engage your grip and shoulders, so rather than “hanging” from you bar you are actually holding yourself in position with control. This is where you can practice breathing in the tight space of your abdomen as well has learning to control the small but deliberate movements of your shoulder blades.

If you notice that grip strength is more than a small issue for you try doing a couple sets of Farmer Carries in between your other exercises. These are pretty straight forward. Grab a pair of heavy dumbbells, and with a straight back and engaged arms and shoulders simply carry them around the gym until your grip begins to give. When it does just put the dumbbells down, give your hands and forearms a quick rest and then do it again. These can be worked into any exercises and be used as an active recovery until your grip strength improves.

Lastly you will need to begin practicing your actual pull-up by using a resistance band for assistance. By this point you should be comfortable with the form of your pull-up, and have attained the grip strength necessary to hold yourself on the bar. Find a band that provides enough support where you can do between 5 and 15 reps. As you can see in the video, use a box or step up in order to safely get your foot into the band before you step off and practice your pull-up. Once you get comfortable with these it’s time to get rid of the band and try a full body weight pull-up, which at this point you will probably be happily surprised that you are much stronger than you expected and are able to perform several pull-ups.

Progressive Overload: How To ACTUALLY Build Muscle

Progressive Overload

 

Building muscle is one of the most common fitness goals, and arguably one of the most challenging to achieve. Everyday there are new studies coming out claiming new theories on the fastest way to build muscle, and there are tons of different ways you can achieve this goal.

You can build muscle by doing Bodybuilding, Crossfit, HIIT, Boxing, and other types of workouts. Although there are tons of ways to go about achieving your goal of building up some muscle, there is one thing that will always remain the same within all these styles of training; progressive overload.

Progressive Overload pretty much explains itself, you need to be progressing in intensity, weight, or movement over time, in order to keep building muscle. If you aren’t keeping track of how many calories you’re burning, how many repetitions you’ve done, and how much weight you lifted in previous weeks, you will not be able to assess whether or not you are actually getting stronger.

A simple concept, that is often brushed off as not a big deal. You may think as long as you’re pushing yourself in the gym, that you will build muscle eventually. This may be true for some, but for many, you will end up falling into the same routine, lifting the same amount of weight, and doing the same amount of intensity during your workouts. This will effect long term progress, and make it challenging for you to build the muscle you are working so hard to get!

Progressive overload example:

Month One

Bench Press:

Week 1: 95lbs 10 reps

Week 2: 100lbs 8 reps

Week 3: 105lbs 6 reps

Week 4: 110lbs 4 reps

Month Two

Bench Press:

Week 1: 100lbs 10 reps

Week 2: 105lbs 8 reps

Week 3: 110lbs 6 reps

Week 4: 115lbs 4 reps


As you can see, the client made sure he was progressing with weight during month 2, this may seem simple but you need to be keeping track in order to make progress. Innovative Health and Fitness recommends that you buy a notebook or download the app called Rep Count to keep track of every workout you do, and how much weight you lifted for reps. This will help you remember that you need to add weight for the following workouts, and assure you are making progress towards the never ending journey of building muscle!

Diets don’t work, DO THIS instead.

 

In today’s fitness industry, there are thousands of different types of workouts, diet plans, meal plans, and methods of nutrition thrown at you in every direction. It’s nearly impossible to dig through the pile of misleading diet ads, claiming they are the next big thing, when all we really want is the correct way to eat, so we can get the body we desire.

Innovative Health and Fitness is here to clear the air, and shine a new light on nutrition. We don’t preach or push certain diets or fads on our clients, we speak the truth, backed up by science. We believe in a flexible way of eating, not diets. Diets are short term solutions that lead to metabolic damage, and do not sustain long term results.

Let’s introduce you to tracking your calories and macronutrients. There is only one scientifically proven way to lose weight, and that is consuming less calories than you are burning throughout each day. Whatever diet has you on a non-individualized meal plan, is lying to you and ruining your metabolism. “Dieting” needs to be very individualized and specific to each individual, as many people have different metabolisms, lifestyles, and health issues that require different amounts of calories and macro’s.

What is a calorie? A calorie is the amount of energy found within the food you are consuming.

What is a macronutrient? A “macro” is the nutrients that make up calories, proteins, fats, and carbs.

1gram of protein = 4 calories

1gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories

1g of fat = 9 calories

With that information I just provided you, you will be able to achieve any goal you desire, and change your body composition into something you have always dreamed of. Whether the goal is to lose body fat, gain muscle, or maintain your current physique, you can achieve this without going on a “diet”, by just restricting calories, maintain calories, or adding more calories to your daily intake.

Here’s what I want you to do, I want you to download a free app called MyFitnessPal. MyFitnessPal will set up your calories based on your age, activity level, and goals. Ditch your old habits of going on a diet for the summer, losing a lot of weight fast, and gaining it all back by the time the New Year hits. This summer, do it right. Maintain your health and physique year round, and improve on it each year.

Track your weight weekly (if this doesn’t bother you, of course), and decrease, increase, or keep calories the same depending on what your weight is doing.

I can’t promise you that the app will give you the most accurate form of calories, as it is a computer, and does not know your actual metabolic rate. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to Jake via the contact form below, and he will set up your calories for you. 

Get off the diet, change your life, and be flexible with what you eat!