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How should I track fitness?

  1. Apr 15, 2005 #1


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    I'm getting back into the whole fitness thing, so I need to know how I should track my progress.

    Weight, reps, and sets are a good start, and each of them can be directly graphed against the date. One problem is that graphing all of them together might give a false impression of how well things are going because as the weight increases, the number of sets and reps will naturally decrease. Anybody can bench 50lbs at 10 reps, but doing 100lb at 5 reps is more than twice as hard, and 150lbs at however many reps is even harder than that; they can't be directly compared. Another problem is that the number of reps in a set continually decreases when working out the same day. One can start off a day doing 10 reps at a certain weight, but end the day with just 1 rep at that weight; weight training for the day ends when you can't even do 1 rep.

    I'm thinking I can multiply the terms together to get some kind of number, X, for example. Weight being lifted/pushed would obviously be the most important because it shows overall strength. Reps are second most important because it shows endurance. Sets would be last because that only shows ability to recover. How should the terms be weighted? Logs? Multiply terms with coefficients? Multiply terms with different exponents? Adding reciprical terms the same way as adding electrical resistances in parallel?

    So far the formula I like the most goes a bit like this

    [tex]X = [1 \ + \ ln(R)](W^e) \ + \ .......[/tex]

    X is the number for comparing, R is reps for a given set, e is e, and W is weight. The expression can keep going forever where each set (term) is added the same way. The [1 + ln(R)] term is to account for doing more reps at once being better, but not that much better (overall strength is the goal here).

    Thoughts, opinions? Suggestions on a different formula? Don't ask why e is used so much; I just really like e.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2005 #2


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    How about a 3 D graph with axes of time (day or week, however frequent your workout is), reps and weight? That way you can see both reps and weight plotted together, so if reps drop, you'll see it occurs when weight increases. If your reps change with sets, you could total the number of reps across all sets to have a measure of how many times you actually lifted the weight during your workout period. For your motivational purposes, that's probably as useful as any other measure.

    Good luck on the renewed exercise program. Just don't pull an enigma and overdo your first day so you're not able to move for a week. :biggrin:
  4. Apr 15, 2005 #3


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    I overdo it pretty much every day. The swelling in the biceps is easily mistaken for muscle, so I look totally ripped after just 1 day of exercise :rofl:
  5. Apr 16, 2005 #4
    Ummm why do you want to gauge it like that?
    I'd just eat right and exercise correctly.
    Haha too much effort to try and make graphs and that :)
    I'm no expert, but wouldn't it be more beneficial for you to have maybe 1-2 hour sessions rather than doing it over the day.
    That way for one day you can do your chest and arms and on other days you can do your leg and back muscles.
    And then once you finish your session then you eat about 35 grams of protein (I think that's all the body can process at one time not sure though).
    And obviously you want to get the full proteins so maybe eat eggs and tuna.
    I just would have thought that if you worked out for too long you would lose weight in the form of fat and muscle since the body would have exhausted the protein supplies.
    Anyway I'm no expert like I said and I know everyone has their own gym plans, but you did ask for people's views :)
    I'd say as soon as you can do 10 reps on your first set then you should move up the next smallest increment.
    And I don't have anything to say about your mathematical formula :)
  6. Apr 16, 2005 #5


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    Charts are just Shawn's way of motivating himself. Personally, I wouldn't use charts because it just wouldn't thrill me to track progress that way, but with any fitness program, whatever gets you excited about continuing is important. If Shawn likes charts, he should go for it.

    I can't advise much about the best approach to bulking up because that was never my objective when I lifted weights. I rather preferred to continue looking like a female, so I took more of a lower weight, higher rep approach. I moved up to a new weight when I could do three full reps of 10 for a few workout sessions in a row. And when I reached the appearance I liked, I just stuck with the same routine because I didn't want to bulk up beyond that. Men usually have different objectives with weight lifting unless they also prefer a lean look over a bulky look.

    But, I also did what soilwork suggests, and the men seemed to follow the same practice, to work upper body one day and lower body on alternating days so you work out daily, but give your muscles a day of rest between workouts. I also dragged along a friend from the exercise science department for my first week of working out so she could teach me how to properly use all the equipment. That was the best thing I ever did, because it minimizes chance of injury and I also got the full benefit of the entire range of motion each machine afforded. Aside from that, when you read or are just told how to use something, it doesn't mean your form is right and it's hard to check that for yourself until you've really seen it and felt it, so she could correct my form until I got it right, and then made sure I had a workout designed to balance muscle groups (for example, if you work out quadriceps too much and don't also do something to work the back of the leg, you're more likely to pull a hamstring). It also keeps you from looking deformed having some muscles really big and others still small (the Popeye look isn't really all that attractive, even with the sailor suit).
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