T Nation

Monitoring Progress



I was wondering what the best way to monitor progress is.

I haven't focused primarily on building size for almost 10 years now. Since then I have been focused more on the performance side of training (conditioning and most recently powerlifting). About 2 months ago, I decided to go back to why I picked up a weight in the first place - to build muscle.

The thing is, back when I started, as long as the scale was going up, I was happy. It worked well, as I went from 170 lbs - 235 lbs at 6'1". Now, being 34 years old and 220 lbs I don't want to judge based solely on scale weight as I figure a couple of pounds of muscle/year is a good goal.

I want to be able to intelligently critique my program and adjust as I go, but as I'm looking at a slower rate of gain, I'm not sure if I can expect to visibly notice enough difference in 8-12 weeks to know if I'm on the right track or not.

Any advice will be much appreciated!



Take pictures every so often and record the dates. Get a notepad and record your whole workout. Find out what works and what doesnt as far as exercises go. When you stall you can change exercises, order of exercises, rest time, tempo, remove dropsets, etc And vice versa.


Thanks! Photos are something I’ve never done before, but it makes sense. I’ve always recorded my workouts and it has been hugely helpful to go back to see what I was doing a decade ago. One thing I do need to do, though, is add some more detail. I have an idea what I weighed/looked like at different stages, but memory is way different that recorded numbers and pictures. That should help a lot going forward…

I know the answer to this is going to be very individual, but would you say there is a sweet spot as far as time period in which you should expect to see a visible change. Let’s say I need to bring my triceps or upper chest, etc up and adjust things for that purpose. I don’t expect to see much in 3 weeks, but figure 6 months is too long to go before realizing something needs to change. Would you say 2-3 months is a good window?

Thank again.


I go by the mirror for the most part. The only thing i would recommend is to keep a few basic metrics that will give you an overall idea of what is happening to your body so you know what shape its taking.

Every saturday i weigh myself, measure my waist at the naval and my arms and write it down.

Right now im doing a gradual cut, so as long as weight isnt moving up, i dont care what it does. I just want to make sure my naval measurement is moving down and my arm measurement isnt moving anywhere. To me, this is a good indicator that fat is being lost and muscle preserved.

If you’re trying to gain mass you can adapt the same metrics for monitoring progress. The only time i would say its really necessary to measure other individual muscles is if you have a specific lagging muscle group that you are giving special attention to bring up.


Thanks guys, those are some good ideas.


I keep a workout log and track every workout.
I take progress pics and bodypart measurements the first week of every January for year over year comparison.