Want to Know How Well You’re Really Doing? Start Tracking Your Training
So, this is the year - the year that you Become Unstoppable. You made that decision and are determined to see it through. Maybe as a first step, you joined a like-minded tribe to support your efforts. Or, to ensure efficiency, you hired an experienced coach and are already benefiting from their years of hard work and knowledge. Any positive step you’ve taken has laid the groundwork for an excellent beginning, but is this all you need for the journey? What else can you do besides show up each day and give it your all?
One simple but highly effective way to increase performance is to track your training sessions. Not in an unhealthy, obsessed with numbers kind of way-- we should all be careful not to cross that line. Track with the intention of gaining perspective, insights on how to be more efficient, a bit of pride in the progress you are making and the consistent encouragement to keep at it.
Why Track Your Training?
Tracking keeps you honest. We’re only human, and sometimes it’s difficult to be objective about our efforts. However, it’s that lack of objectivity that can be the difference between moving your body and pushing it to the limit. The workout that you seriously considered skipping may have felt harder than it actually was. Maybe it got counted as two days of training for that reason, but had you been recording your sessions, you’d have something to compare it to – and that brings clarity.
Think of tracking your training sessions as employing a distant set of fresh and honest eyes to highlight what’s working in your routine and what needs tweaking.
Let’s start with the basics and put pen to paper. Sure, your first reaction may be to dismiss this idea and move right to the next, but sometimes the most straight forward plans are also the most productive. What do you think the world’s greatest boxers used before they had apps and gadgets?
You’ll want a reasonably sized notebook; something you can carry with you and reference, as well as make notes in at the studio. There are also plenty of free workout log templates available online to download or print. Decide what works best for you and then commit to keeping it up to date.
Once you have a good amount of data, it becomes apparent what your next workout should be. Things will start standing out, like, “Hey, I do a lot of squats, but no lunges” or “Wow, I don’t spend much time stretching – maybe that explains how tight I’ve been.”
It’s quite common to find that you are stuck in a rut with the same weight and reps. Journaling will call you out on it. Regular recording and reviewing make it impossible to keep your head in the sand. You’ll no longer wonder why you spend so much time at the studio but still aren’t seeing results, because the answer will be written in black and white. Use this tool to revamp your health plan and change your life.
Don’t rule out the latest fitness app. There are unlimited options to choose from, and many of these are even free! Download the right application, and you have instant training options and fewer excuses. Now it’s you that chooses how, when and where to get moving.
Not all health-related apps are created equal, so make sure to do the homework and find the best fit. There are some related explicitly to boxing, but each comes with a unique twist. One helps a beginner master the basics, while others focus on teaching veterans some new combinations. For those wanting to put it all together, there’s even an app with a virtual sparring partner – now that’s impressive.
Overall health and wellbeing include more than just what happens in the ring, it insists on a growth mindset, and lucky for us, there are apps to help with all of it. Need more flexibility in your life, test drive a few yoga and stretch apps. Desperate for more stress relief? Consider a mindfulness or meditation app like the very popular Insight Timer. For better recovery and sleep, check out Healthline’s list of best insomnia apps.
Using an application doesn’t mean you’ll forever be going at it alone either. Apps like Peloton offer the standard on-demand options but also live group classes. If you wouldn’t walk out of a live spin class, you likely won’t do so in a live app class either – it’s instant motivation. And for the competitors at heart, ask your friends to join. Under Armour's MapMyRun is perfect for including others and showing off your hard work by posting your results to social media. Plus, it tracks duration, speed and even elevation, making it near impossible to quit reaching for the next goal.
The objective is to stop guessing and instead determine how hard you are actually working. Solid information on this front allows you to make informed decisions that lead to a more direct path to your health goals. The simplest way to assess exertion rate is by regularly tracking your heart rate.
Typically, we gain maximum benefit from exercising within our target heart rate. That’s 60-80% of your maximum heart rate or 220 minus your age. Gauge your heart rate manually throughout each training session by taking your pulse, then adjust your exertion level accordingly. Heart rate too high? Then, slow it down. Heart rate too low? It’s time to kick it up a notch.
There is a more modern approach to monitoring heart rates that involves a classic chest strap or an optical monitor, with infinite numbers of choices. Probably the most well-known are the Apple Watch and Fitbit activity trackers. Each has various designs, but both come equipped with multiple uses that sync with other apps and users. The choice is personal and can come down to whether or not you want access to your email on this device or if it matches your individual style. The bottom line is that they all make it easy to track your heart rate and collect personal data with the power to enhance your health.
Knowing your heart rate can help you track intensity, but it is also considered a safety measure in the studio. Get familiar with your resting rate and learn what your target heart rate should be. It’s not necessary to purchase gadgets at all unless you want to but consider it your responsibility to be informed and educated for your own wellbeing.
Make it Fun
The road to better health is a personal one. There is no one-size-fits-all option and that’s what makes the journey so much fun! Explore, discover and create along the way by trying new things and being open to new ideas.
One word of caution: incorporating spreadsheets, apps and devices into your healthy lifestyle can be fun and inspiring, but they can also turn obsessive in a hurry. Be mindful of this pitfall by remembering that it’s the hard work that is important, not the numbers. Add everything that feels enjoyable and leave the rest behind. Gloveworx training sessions are meant to be tough but fun, and that should carry over into all aspects of your training efforts.