Western Campus Recreation

How to Monitor Your Gym Sessions

This article is for everyone out there who is going to the gym because they want to “lose weight”. While scales are the most mainstream and easiest way to monitor your gym sessions, using a scale is not the most effective way to measure your improvement and can even lead to negative self esteem. As you work out your body composition will start to change, through cardio and strength training, which are both detrimental to your success.

The main reason a scale is not the best way to monitor your body changes is that you are gaining muscle and losing fat, which may make little changes in your overall body weight. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning it burns more calories at rest. It's also more dense, so takes up less space. So, while the scale may not have changed much by this, your body shape and size has, for the better.

Here are some tools that are better to use for monitoring physical changes:

  1. Go by how your clothes fit. Maybe you have a pair of jeans that are feeling a bit snug or a shirt you can't button up. Over the weeks of staying committed to your workouts, they will start to fit much better, regardless of what the scale says.
  2. Take measurements. Waist and hip measurements can be great for showing inches lost. Again, don't get caught up in the numbers but every month this is something you can use to monitor changes in your body.
  3. Progress pictures can be a great tool as well. We see ourselves in the mirror everyday, and may not notice the changes we are making.
  4. Keep track of your workouts and how you have improved. By monitoring how much you can lift and how long it takes to run a certain distance, you will gain a better understanding of your improvements

What happens when I reach my goals?

It is extremely important that once you set and reach your goal that you continue to challenge yourself. For example, if running on the treadmill is your thing, you need to keep increasing the intensity of your run by increasing the incline or increasing the speed so that each week you are working a bit harder. Same idea in the weight room. Once that weight starts to feel easier to lift, its time to push yourself to lift more.

Shift your focus. Get out of the weight loss mind set and set goals related to your performance in the gym. Whether it be squatting a heavier weight,  running a 5km several minutes faster, completing 10 push ups, your goal is the most important thing and it shouldn’t necessarily be a goal weight. Set a plan for how you will achieve this. Focus on eating a well-balanced diet. Creating these healthy habits and staying consistent, regardless of what the scale says that day, will help you achieve your fitness goals and become healthier.

Weight is just and number, and it won’t quantify all of the amazing things you can do or your qualities. Keep up the hard work and the results will come.