I have always been the type of person to constantly change up my fitness routine. Whether I’m floating between gyms on Gilt City or Groupon deals, taking advantage of flexibility ClassPass (oh how I miss you, $99 Unlimited), or buying packs at various gyms, I love to change it up. My ideal week contains some combination of rowing, running, cycling, lifting and whatever else I can do to trick my body into never getting bored. I truly believe it’s been the key to getting stronger and more fit. But how do I know when I’m progressing?
Set some consistent measures
For a long time, my 5K time has been one of my favorite measures of my fitness. I’ve noticed that whether I’ve been training for a race or lifting a lot, as long as I’ve been working really hard at the gym, my 5K pace tends to drop. When I’ve been slacking, I see the number tick up.
For you, 5K might also be a great measure, but there are tons of other consistent measurements you can use. You could cut it down to a simple mile-trial (this one I happen to love to do at a track). You can set a clock for one minute and test how many pushups you can do. You can use the (fairly brutal) measure that The North Face Mountain Athletics uses, which is max burpees in 7 minutes. Whatever it is, try to make it something that isn’t too sport-specific (like half-marathon pace or your heaviest deadlift) so that it can be a measure of overall fitness.
Take a mental check-in at the gym
Next time you’re leaving the gym think about how you feel. Do you feel accomplished? Do you feel strong? Do you feel exhausted? Are you happy? Everyone has different goals at the gym, but every goal can have an emotional connection that can serve as a check-in. With my goal of balance, I want to feel like I worked hard during my hour at the gym and took advantage of the time I’d set aside.
If you’re not feeling the way you want to, why is that happening? Did you skip workouts the whole week before? Did you not push yourself in workouts for the last week? Are you still going to that intro to yoga class when you’re ready for level 2? Think about the adjustments you can make to hit the goals you set for yourself and have that feeling you’re seeking.
What’s happening outside of the gym?
Fitness should have an impact on your life beyond the gym as well. Check in at work or during date night. Do you have energy? Are your muscles and joints aching? Or do you feel really good? If you’re constantly sore, that could mean that you’re working hard, or it could mean that you’re pushing your body too hard. If you’re feeling groggy and have trouble walking up the stairs, maybe you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.
Do you change up your workouts often? How do you measure progress?