How Do You Measure Progress & Success?
In the world of health, fitness, nutrition and body transformation, it is very common for individuals to focus on only one number. And that number is their body weight. In their mind, this is the only number that matters and this will determine their success (or lack thereof). And yes, no doubt, body weight is very important for overall health and fitness. Reducing our body fat percentage is a key component when it comes to improving overall health, heart health, athletic performance, recovery, etc. But with that being said, let's not let only one number rule our world of health and fitness. Let's bring in some additional parameters that will help monitor our progress.
The key to improving cardiovascular efficiency and overall fitness is to work out smarter, not harder. Working out hard is easy, but working out smart takes time, effort, energy, focus, patience and discipline. Working out smart is all about tapping into and maximizing our own physiology. And this is done by working out in the right heart rate zones. When we work out smart and start to build efficiency, will be able to teach the body to go longer, harder, faster at the same or lower heart rate. That's the key to success; longer, harder, faster at the same or lower heart rate. If we just go out super-hard in a workout, we are going to jack up that heart rate and the metabolic cost will be very high. This puts us at risk for injury, overtraining, impaired recovery, fatigue, lack of results in terms of body transformation despite the high intensity, etc. When we start to see an improvement in cardiovascular efficiency, this is a direct sign that we have drastically improved our overall fitness.
Here is a great way to measure cardiovascular efficiency. The goal is to run 2 miles, as fast as possible, in the proper heart rate zones (when using the 9Round heart rate training system, you want to stay in the green and yellow aerobic heart rate zones). The key to measuring your efficiency is to have laser-like precision. And this laser-like precision means that we want to bring an "I'll do whatever it takes” mentality to the workout in terms of staying in the proper heart rate zones and not exceeding them.
I would highly suggest performing this on a treadmill at 0% incline. This way, every time you test your cardiovascular efficiency, the method will be the exact same and you will be using the same "testing procedure" each time. Perform this test and get a baseline in terms of total time, heart rate range and average heart. Record these numbers and then retest yourself every 6-8 weeks. It's not that we are necessarily looking for improvement every 6-8 weeks, because in the whole scheme of things, 6-8 weeks is a very short period of time. Rather, we are simply looking for a net improvement over time. When we are working out smart and eating right, we are going to see improvements in our cardiovascular efficiency. As you start to compare your testing numbers 6 months, 8 months, 12 months down the line with your initial baseline testing, this is where you will really start to see improvements.
Keep in mind; this is not about how fast you can run 2 miles. Rather, it's about how fast you can run 2 miles…in the prescribed, aerobic heart rate zones (green and yellow heart rate zones). For example, let's say an individual is spot-on with their baseline testing and they stay right within the prescribed heart rate zones. And let's say their average pace per mile is 12 minutes. Therefore, it took them 24 minutes to run the 2 miles. In time, they will start to notice that their average pace per mile improves to 11:45, 11:30, 11:00, 10:30, 10:00, etc. Take a look at these numbers. Just imagine being able to run two minutes faster per mile, at the same or lower heart rate. That's the key part of the statement, at the same or lower heart rate. When you see this happen, look out, because you will be at a completely different and higher fitness level. There is no better sign of fitness than being able to go longer, harder, faster…at the same or lower heart rate.
Strength testing is another great way to monitor our progress. The reality is this: if we are getting stronger, this means we're building muscle. And, if we are building muscle, we are well on our way to a stronger, leaner, lighter and healthier physique; now that's exciting. Here are five great bodyweight strength exercises that you can do:
- Sit up
- Mountain climber
- Jump rope
Just like with the cardiovascular efficiency, we want to get a baseline. In order to test your strength using these exercises, perform each exercise for 60 seconds. Complete as many repetitions as you can for each. Rest 30 seconds in between each exercise. Record your total repetitions for each exercise and every 6-8 weeks re-test yourself. Be sure to perform the exercises in the same order each time. You will be amazed how, in time, you start to see some great improvements and increases in your total repetitions for each. And again, just like with the cardiovascular efficiency testing, it's not a matter of seeing improvement each and every test. Rather, it's about seeing a net improvement in time over the next 6, 8, 12 months and beyond.
In summary, weight loss goals (and even more importantly, body transformation goals: body fat loss and body water increase) are absolutely fantastic. But, we want to be sure that we have additional ways to measure our progress. And there is no better way to measure health and fitness than by testing cardiovascular efficiency and strength. As you continue to workout smart and eat right, you will be blown away by the improvements that you start to make. This will be a direct indicator of your hard work, time, effort, energy, focus, patience and discipline paying off. Get ready to wow yourself!
WORKOUT SMART, EAT RIGHT, GET RESULTS™!
Dr. Rick Kattouf II
2x Best-Selling Author
9Round Nutrition Coach
Named One of America’s PremierExperts® in Nutrition & Fitness
Named One Of The World Fitness Elite® Trainers Of The Year
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