Recently I have been getting a lot of questions about how to start calisthenics, people often find it difficult to get started when they can only do the basic exercises.
There are a few things to focus on when you’re training:
- Nutrition – You gotta eat well to really see a difference in your health and fitness, you can work as hard as you like, but if you are binging all weekend then your strength and fitness will suffer for it, so it is important to eat well.
- Exercise – You gotta train bro, otherwise you aren’t getting anywhere.
- Sleep – Your down time is necessary to help your body recover.
But what else?
Just training, and eating and sleeping?
No, and this was the big mistake I made when I started training. I was having a workout having dinner and going to bed, but there was something missing that stopped me from training smarter.
If you want to know exactly where you stand in progressions, your development, and what is or isn’t working for you, there is ONE BIG THING you need to be doing.
Why You Need To Track Your Sessions
This was my big mistake. I wasn’t tracking my development. Sure I was noticing myself getting better, but because I wasn’t tracking, I didn’t see session to session improvements, I didn’t know what my weak points were and I didn’t know what I was under training (or over training).
You may be saying, ‘that ain’t so bad, is it?’
And I had the same opinion, but then I didn’t know that it was so important.
Since I’ve been training again, I have got myself a new training partner, and I have seen him improving massively since we started training together.
He is a tracking fiend, purely because he sends his mates little Snapchat videos, and that was what really made it click for me. He was showing improvement, he was documenting it, session by session, and he quickly learned what he needed to work on, he knew what areas were strongest.
Tracking Keeps You Going
Tracking your workouts is great to see what exercises are really developing you, otherwise you can get stagnant in your training, doing the same stuff over and over again, or even going backwards.
Tracking will help you plan your workouts, because you will know if you have managed to improve your dips and not pulls, you know you need to work on your pull exercises.
If you haven’t got better at isometrics, you need to do an isometric session, I mean a really hard one.
How To Start Tracking
To start tracking, simply write down what you do in your workout today. Next time you train write that down.
When you have a weeks worth – or a cycle if you have a different kind of training schedule – you can review what you are training, see if your training is push heavy, or you have been neglecting cardio sessions.
All it takes to start tracking your sessions is your phone, or a notepad, where you can write down what exercises you are doing and how many reps and sets you manage. It is really that easy.
In a few short months you will be able to see the progress you have made, through reps, or increased difficulty of exercises. This will help motivate you and help provide feedback on what movements you need to work on.
Another easy way to track your progress is through photos and videos. Film yourself doing an exercise, one you are struggling with or one you have just mastered. You can see where your form is lacking and how smooth or controlled your workouts are. It also doubles up as a great source of inspiration, there is nothing like having a photo of you doing something truly insane, especially when you previously thought it was impossible.
What To Take From Tracking
When you are logging your workouts, take note of what movements each session is working. Make sure you are spreading workouts across your body and working all of the movements.
I am starting to challenge myself on my Max Reps – how many reps you can do in one set. This is another way to see improvement, if you focus on max reps for the foundation exercises, you know that you are steadily improving all of the basic movements and you can have a monthly max rep test where you try and beat the previous months by a few reps.
Tracking will improve your workouts because you know where you are and can work from there, if you don’t know what level you are at, it is easy to get overwhelmed by videos of people doing crazy exercises that seem so far away to you. They could be a lot closer than they seem, and tracking is your secret key to success.
So take a pen or your phone with you to your session tonight and start tracking. Get your baseline, find out where you stand and you can work towards the bigger exercises with a progressive strategy rather than going in blind every workout and getting frustrated about not moving forward.
Follow us on Twitter to get my Daily Workouts where I track my training and give you some ideas for your own workouts!