T Nation

Gauging Progress

Hello fellow old T-brothers…

Need some feedback from you all. I work out at home and am having a tough time gauging my progress.

I pulled out a program I finished two years ago (been training four) and decided to try it again. On almost all lifts the weight used is about 25% higher. I had thought I would be lifting much more than that and am not really satisfied with myself (if I was, I could stop training, I guess). The bright spot - my improvement is uniform across all lifts (thanks to Chad Waterbury!).

I’d appreciate some feedback on how much strength you all have gained year over year, since I have no way to judge my progress.

Thanks and you 35+ guys rock.

Progress is a very individual matter.

Get with guys bigger and stronger than you and do what they do. You’ll progress faster for sure.

Keep a training journal. Enter reps, set, and weights. Maybe enter your bodyweight and measurements every so often, if that’s your goal.

Hey, we’re over 35 here, and can’t rely on memory to gauge our progress. Actually, no one can, if they are being honest with themselves.

There is NO other way to gauge progress except to measure it as you go along. How else can you know if your training is helping to achieve your goals? Everybody hits sticking points. But you can’t troubleshoot without a log to see your progression over time.

What they said.

Beginners can make dramatic progress from year 1 to year 2 but the increases will drop off over time. I’m perfectly happy to make any progress. Actually, I find it easy to make progress over the short term but to sustain it year after year is harder.

Thanks for the replies. Let me clarify a bit-

I work out alone, so finding bigger lifting partners isn’t an option. That’s why I’m asking here.

I have logged every single workout the past four years. This is the first time I have gone back through the stack to compare and try to figure out how I am doing. I calculated my increases based upon my logs.

Thanks again for the help.

[quote]t-sama wrote:
Thanks for the replies. Let me clarify a bit-

I work out alone, so finding bigger lifting partners isn’t an option. That’s why I’m asking here.

I have logged every single workout the past four years. This is the first time I have gone back through the stack to compare and try to figure out how I am doing. I calculated my increases based upon my logs.

Thanks again for the help.[/quote]

then I shall clarify as well: The is is no standard rate of progress. There is no point at which you “ought” to be in comparison to other lifters. There is only what you expect from yourself and the measuring how well you’re accomplishing that.

Mining your logs is one of the best things you can do and I commend you for that. From them you can glean what worked for you, what didn’t work, what your indicator lifts are and distill that into a program tailored specifically for you.

Even then, your progress will depend on who you lift with, where you train, how motivated you are and how disciplined you are. It be YOUR progress and no one else’s that will improve you the most. Knowing how well other people are progressing will do you no good unless you are doing exactly what they are doing. And nobody does that because everyone’s body responds differently to weight training. It’s a non-sense comparison

Set goals, record your lifts, eat and rest well and lift with strong mofo’s. You will progress.

Were you a complete beginner four years ago or were you coming back to lifting? I think some of us on here came back to lifting so our progress may look more dramatic than some one starting for the first time. I’m sure there’s a term for this.

I can honestly say I was a fat, out of shape 40 year old 4 years ago! Not much muscle memory was happening for me, when I started. I’ve been completely committed since I started.

I think I am beginning to understand that there may not really be an answer for my question, except that I have to look within and in the mirror to determine how I am doing. It was pretty naive to think that someone was going to tell me “if you increase each lift 19.2345% each year, you are doing well”.

I do appreciate the responses.

[quote]hel320 wrote:
Were you a complete beginner four years ago or were you coming back to lifting? I think some of us on here came back to lifting so our progress may look more dramatic than some one starting for the first time. I’m sure there’s a term for this. [/quote]

I wanted to add something and also try to mitigate my looking like a total cone-headed prick from my post above.

Corresponding with the guys on this thread counts as working out with stronger lifters in my book.

Reading their logs and experiences has taught me a lot and improved my lifting, recovery and some of my personal habits (I comb my hair before I go out and wear underwear more regularly now) - in a large part simply because I could see it was possible. There were examples right in front of me.

[quote]skidmark wrote:
I wanted to add something and also try to mitigate my looking like a total cone-headed prick from my post above.

I comb my hair before I go out… [/quote]

Cone heads don’t have hair!

Well, the best way to gauge your progress is to set goals and to have regular tests to see if you’ve gotten there or not. But you have to pick and choose what it is you’re wanting to improve.

Personally, I choose to keep track of my 1 rep maxes on my squat, bench, and sometimes my deadlift. I don’t track the other lifts as closely. I try to go to a meet every so often because it gives me a goal and it gives me an objective opinion on whether my lifts are “clean”. My improvement hasn’t been linear, it’s been in spurts but it’s still on its way up.

You can keep track of your rep maxes at some other rep range or you can keep track of your measurements or your performance in some sport or other. Just decide the direction you want to go.

But also remember, if you’re coming back to some exercises that you haven’t done in a while, don’t look at your strength the first time you do them. Do them for a few workouts because you’ll probably get stronger at them pretty quickly as you increase neural efficiency. You get strong at what you do and if you’re not doing something, you’re probably getting weaker at it unless you’re doing something very similar.

[quote]skidmark wrote:
(I comb my hair before I go out and wear underwear more regularly now)[/quote]

What is this underwear of which you speak?

[quote]hel320 wrote:
skidmark wrote:
I wanted to add something and also try to mitigate my looking like a total cone-headed prick from my post above.

I comb my hair before I go out…

Cone heads don’t have hair![/quote]

Trust you to catch that!

[quote]The Pencil Neck wrote:
skidmark wrote:
(I comb my hair before I go out and wear underwear more regularly now)

What is this underwear of which you speak?

[/quote]

Didn’t learn it from you, obviously…

[quote]t-sama wrote:

I think I am beginning to understand that there may not really be an answer for my question, except that I have to look within and in the mirror to determine how I am doing. It was pretty naive to think that someone was going to tell me “if you increase each lift 19.2345% each year, you are doing well”.

[/quote]

Exactly. There are no standards for progression, with the exception of “newbie gains”. You have 4 years of historical data in your logs. You did not mention this in your original post, you said you had nothing by which to gauge your progress. This is your reference gauge to measure your progression. We are all different, the only person you can compare yourself to is you. There is a wealth of information, all for free, right here. When you reach a sticking point, ask questions. Chances are, somebody has already been there, and can help you. Good luck.