How To Use Benchmark Measurements To Track Your Exercise Progress
Benchmark measurements are the best way to encourage results when working toward a fitness goal.
Courtney Cornwall, Outrun Gravity
Exercising is a personal journey. You compete against yourself as you work on your goals and strive to become the best version of yourself.
Whether you wish to become faster, stronger, leaner, or more muscular, it can be difficult to remain motivated if you don’t implement an appropriate benchmark to measure your progress.
What is a benchmark measurement?
A benchmark measurement in fitness is a type of exercise that is structured and measurable that allows you to track your improvement. Benchmarks can be applied to all forms of exercise and altered to the individual’s preferences. With the goal of optimizing your performance and improvement when working toward a goal, benchmark measurements effectively keep you on track as you train. Some ideas for benchmark measurements include:
- How fast you can run a mile
- Your weight
- The circumference of your muscles
- How far you can run in a certain time
- How much weight you can lift
- How many reps you can complete in a circuit
- How many burpees you can do in one minute
- A measure of your flexibility
Anything can work as a benchmark, as long as it is personal, unique to your goal, and can be measured. It doesn’t matter if you measure time, weight, distance, or reps, but the benchmark must be distinct enough that you know if you have improved, regressed, or stayed the same.
Frequency of Benchmarks
When tracking your progress through benchmarks, it is beneficial to repeat the measurement regularly, so when starting out, determining a monthly benchmark can set the foundation for your fitness journey. Your monthly benchmark should be simple enough that you can repeat the action every month, building you up toward less frequent benchmark measurements that are repeated each quarter and year.
As well as monthly benchmarks, it may be a good idea to introduce a quarterly benchmark that is slightly more extravagant than what you measure each month. For example, every 3 months you may try to hit a new PR while deadlifting or want to time yourself running a 5K. Just as your monthly benchmarks should prepare you for your quarterly benchmarks, your quarterly benchmarks should also align with your yearly goal.
Annual benchmarks are the final determinants of how effective a workout plan is. Typically, an annual benchmark will be the greatest physical challenge you will face this year, and it should be relevant to the benchmark measurements you have already been tracking. For example, if your monthly measurement was tracking your mile time and your quarterly measurement was tracking your time running a 5k, your annual measurement may be running a half marathon. This is where you truly put yourself to the test and evaluate your progress.
Benchmarks allow you to make adjustments
The best part about maintaining a consistent benchmark system in their fitness program is that you are constantly evaluating what works and what doesn’t. Without a benchmark program, you might waste years performing ineffective exercises and feel discouraged from pursuing your goals. Alternatively, after three months of repeating a benchmark, if you don’t see the progress you were expecting, you have the opportunity to adjust your training plan to help you achieve your goals.
Benchmark measurements are the best way to encourage results when working toward a fitness goal. No matter what type of fitness you prefer, by establishing monthly, quarterly, and annual benchmarks, you will be able to track your progress in real-time and adjust your training program as necessary. For more guidance in achieving your fitness goals through benchmark measurements, connect with our coaches at Outrun Gravity for a free consultation today!