Why should you track your workouts? There are many reasons you would want to do this, and the way you go about this will vary depending on your goals.
We’ve touched on the importance of tracking a whole range of health markers, even releasing our digital health journal to encourage you to work on your overall wellbeing. But now we’re going to expand on how and why you should track your workouts.
If you don’t measure, you can’t improve.
We talk a lot about setting goals, but how do you know you achieved them? This might seem like a silly question, because of course you would know when you’ve hit the finish line on your weight loss journey, lifted a certain amount of weight or literally crossed the finish line at the end of a marathon. But what about the bit in between? What if you start to struggle, what if you could have identified gaps in your training or what if you have much less tangible exercise goals like working out for mental wellbeing.
There are so many variables that go into exercise, and many of these things will also impact the rest of your day. For example, lack of sleep will slow down your recovery so you may notice an elevated heart rate throughout the day.
What you can discover
Not every workout will be for you
If you’ve got specific goals in mind, you can start to identify which training sessions and exercises are best pushing you in that direction, and conversely which are not so useful for you. You can focus on these goal-achieving workouts and reduce the number of sessions you spend on less beneficial exercises. For example, improving your cardiovascular capacity will only happen if your heart rate is elevated. You may find some activities can keep your heart rate elevated more consistently, for longer before you get worn out.
As you gather data you’ll be able to see what is and isn’t working for you. Being able to tailor your workouts using actual data will push your body closer to your goals.
Stronger motivation and dedication
You’ll find yourself aiming for certain heart rate percentages, trying to hit a better run time, and working to improve your recovery. Feeling a stronger sense of accountability to yourself comes from seeing your efforts as a tangible number.
Similarly, you’ll start to notice patterns. Perhaps the plan to train after work on a Friday was a bad idea, and you often skip this day. Perhaps you feel so much better when you exercise in the mornings. Tracking your workouts alongside your mood and recovery markers such as how well you’re sleeping will really help you optimise your lifestyle.
What to track
As well as things like mood, duration and frequency of workouts,
Some of our favourite parameters are heart rate variability (HRV), training zones and GPS. Here’s why:
- HRV – Helps you observe sleep patterns and establish your recovery level. Sleep is such an important factor when it comes to recovery and lowering stress. We are much more holistic in our approach to health now. Focusing on lifestyle is an essential part of any health goal or aspiration.
- Varied training zones – These allow you to use different training levels depending on your activity. This helps because your heart rate will react differently based on the type of activity. For example, running vs swimming vs cycling. Now you can compare sessions to establish personal patterns or trends in your effort. This is particularly motivating when you’ve had a hard day at work and your performance may have dropped by a few percent. The zones are usually colour coded for ease of understanding.
- GPS data – If you’re exercising outside, this is a huge benefit. You’ll be able to see on your summary, a map of where you ran, your speed, elevation and cadence. It may sound like a lot, but after a few runs, you’ll be hooked and your watch may even congratulate you on your improvements. GPS is also a great safety feature if you run or cycle alone.
Getting a fitness tracker
Setting targets can be good but be mindful not to let the results take over. That being said, watches or workout trackers like a Myzone are really useful and can fill you in on a range of data without you having to manually write them down.
Our advice would be to try and forget it is there, to begin with. Within only a few days you will have a “snapshot” of your daily movement and you will be able to guesstimate how active you are. If it leads to walking somewhere instead of driving or taking the stairs more then this can’t be a bad thing. It’s like you’re creating your own book of records every time you wear your watch, but nobody knows!
But don’t feel bad if you have a ‘bad run’. Even a disappointing workout is better than not trying at all. It’s all about getting out there, getting active and sticking to your goals. Some days you’ll feel like you can conquer the world and on others, you may struggle to get out of bed. Don’t stress. Just relax in the knowledge that you did it! Well done!
Which tracker to buy
There isn’t one answer here, you need to decide this for yourself as there are so many options and so many things you can track.
General advice would be to go for a brand that’s been around awhile. You can look at reviews and newer devices are often made with customer feedback in mind. Other than this, have a think about what matters to you. For example, if you swim, you’ll need a waterproof tracker and if you do a variety of sports you may want one that you can wear in multiple ways.
If you’re after a great community in club and across the UK, Myzone is a great option. These devices allow you to track your heart rate throughout your workout so you can see when to push yourself and how well you recover at the end of your session. Anytime Fitness members can currently get up to £80 off a Myzone, and join in with a range of competitions to further enhance your workout experience.
The world of technology is a big place. Most professional athletes and sports teams are using trackers. They’re a crucial part of modern-day sports science. You can also learn a lot about your habits and behaviours from wearing one, even when you forget it is there. Enjoy your data and see your improvements as they’re happening to really understand why you should be tracking your workouts.