Keeping Track

March 21, 2011


In my last post I mentioned how important it was to keep track of your training progress. I thought I’d take a little time to describe how we do this at Serious Strength.

Above is an example of our client progress chart. Allow me to explain the details.

At the top you see the basics – name, year, goal and special instructions. Since you’ll be making your own charts, you can skip this part.

Below this are spaces for the date, the TCF (this will be explained below) and notes (also explained below). You do want to include these when creating your personal progress chart.

The very most left hand column you see the names of the exercises. At the bottom is a blank spot to write in an exercise that is not part of the usual routine like manual resistance or push ups or some other exercise that is out of the norm.  So in this column you should write all the exercises you do at home or in the gym or just leave them blank and write them in as you go along.

To the right of this is a column to write in machine seat settings and/or exercise positions and other notes like “extra padding” or “don’t use any fans.”  For us, keeping track in this way, all of our instructors know exactly what to do for a each and every client. This is nice because any instructor can train any client at any time.

To the right of this column is a small section for writing down the range of motion (ROM). We use different ranges of motion for different clients depending upon their particular physical condition. Some people need to have their ROM reduced due to injuries or because of compromised anatomy due to arthritis, bursitis, etc. To set a person’s ROM, we do what’s called “pinning off” the weight stack.

How it’s done: You raise the movement arm up exposing the holes in the pick up rod (the rod that has the holes in it),  choose the resistance you wish and place the stack pin into that weight plate. You then write down the holes exposed in the pick up rod – the ones that are showing – and write the number of holes showing in the column’s box with a circle around it.

Take a look-see:

Piining off for blog

You can see that there are three holes pinned off (showing) and the pin is stuck into the 40 pound plate.Here’s a close up of it (it’s a tad blurry):

Piining off for blog

So we mark this in the ROM box with a circled number 3.  Take a look at the picture below of a clients compressed chart in the ROM section. Look at the 6th exercise called “FGPD” which stands for front grip pull down. You see that her chart is marked that she is doing this exercise with 3 holes pinned off.

carson chart

Take a look at the next column to the right of the ROM column. This column is for the weight loads. Here you write in the weight that you are using for that particular exercise in the upper triangular quadrant. The numbers underneath the weight loads delineate the order of the exercises. In this case she did FGPD using 328 pounds as the first exercise, 10 degree chest using 82 pounds as the second exercise, row torso using 75 pounds as the third, etc.

The order you perform the exercises in matters a lot. For example, if you usually do a chest exercise prior to a shoulder exercise but because of some glitch you had to reverse the order, the weight you usually use for the chest exercise will more than likely have to be reduced somewhat.  So you want to know that you did this and make the changes accordingly.

Next to this column you see a box with a colon in it. Looking up at the first picture, the blank chart, you’ll see it is labelled TCF which stands for time to concentric failure. This is the point when you can no longer lift the weight while exerting maximal effort. This is important because working to concentric failure is the point when all of the motor units are engaged. You want that.

In this space you write the time to concentric failure. Looking again at the FGPD in Carson’s chart, you see she reached concentric muscular failure in 1 minute and 2 seconds. So, 1:02 is written in that box. Using a stop watch is the best way to record progress. We feel it is a more precise than counting repetitions.

Next to this column is a box for miniature notes, whatever they may be. You can say “Felt strong” or “Don’t raise” or anything you like. We use a cheat sheet so we can keep the box small. But you can make it larger so that you can get more info in there. It is a very useful tool.

We hope to go digital one day soon using iPads or some other PDA device to chart progress. This will allow us to hand our clients printouts of their strength progression which is considerable at Serious Strength.

If I’ve left out anything or didn’t explain this well, fire away with the questions!

Contact Information

NYC Location
169 West 78th Street
New York, NY 10024

[email protected]

Montclair, NJ Location
25 Watchung Plaza
Montclair, NJ 07042

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