What tools can I use to track my progress in my new fitness plan?

The best ways to track a fitness plan is by using a calendar, a journal or designing your own specific, tailored fitness worksheet that includes spaces to chart food, sleep, as well as physical and emotional aspects of your exercise.
There are many ways to keep track of your progress and how you keep track is really dependent on what works for you. A journal is helpful so that you can see physical and psychological progress and changes particularly over time. A calendar is helpful. A calendar is based in time and it will give you a good time perspective of how you are progressing from day to day.  

Several tools you can use to track the progress of your new fitness plan are a journal, a tape measure and a scale. Journals, whether online (like DotFit, Livestrong and SparkPeople to name a few) or handwritten are one of the most useful tools to track progress and ensure success. They can help you see what you are doing right and what you may still need to tweak. A tape measure is key to see inches lost or gained depending on your goal. Most everyone wants to look different and have clothes fit better, but for people who do not tend to wear form fitting clothes, they may have lost inches and not even know it! The tape measure will give you a very tangible reading of your physical changes over time. Lastly, for a reason, is the scale. While ideal weight is a key component of health and wellness, scale weight can become an unhealthy focus and an area of frustration. Since scale weight can fluctuate dramatically even within a day, so try weighing yourself only once a week for accountability and progress.
Picture of weight scale

The simplest methods of success measurement are a tape measure, your bathroom scale, your reflection in the mirror and how your clothes are fitting.  Unless you are a professional athlete or have money to burn you don’t need to waste money body composition tests. In many cases, they are overpriced and at best rather inaccurate and at worst, so wrong that they can be emotionally depressing. When it comes to measuring your hard work in the gym and nutritional prudence just keep it simple.

I recommend keeping a journal (3x5 notebook) of all your periodic measurements. Twice a week, maybe Tuesday and Friday morning before breakfast weigh yourself. Don’t sweat occasional small fluctuations in your weight, just keep focused on gaining some overall insight that your weight is trending in the right direction. Then twice a month use your tape measure to check on your circumference progress. Go online to acquire a circumference measurement chart for where to measure yourself. Finally, take a look in the mirror and see how your clothes are fitting. What do you see? Success? Stagnant? Be honest but don’t be brutal. Find ways to keep it positive but effective.  If you are disciplined with your workouts, cardio, and nutrition I am sure the mirror will be a fun place for you to be very soon. Enjoy!


Great question! Two great tools that I utilize for tracking clients progress are fitness logs and performance assessments. Fitness logs provides a visual aide for monitoring health and fitness by tracking diet and exercise. Performance assessments provide objective data or measurable information about ones physical state. 

There are many different ways to track your progress. Some of it will depend on what your goals are, however, all of your goals should be measureable.

  • For some people I suggest that they use their clothes as a measure tool. It is an accurate way to tell if you are gaining or losing weight. Such as how tight you are buckling your belt or how your jeans feel.
  • If you are looking for strength gains, make sure you bring your exercise log with you each time you work out so that you can track your sets, reps, weight used, rest periods and timing. This way you won't forget and will be more accurate on each workout.
  • By using the Sharecare site you are able to log your exercise, food/nutrition, and weight/BMI. I find this to be a great tool because you can put all your information in one spot and have great visual feedback at the same time.

For tracking your progress it may depend on your goals and what you are tracking, but as long as you are able to increase your activity and note positive changes then you are on the right track.

Sheri D. Pruitt
Use a chart to keep track of your progress as you begin your new exercise routine. A calendar can serve the same purpose. Remember that monitoring is a very powerful skill. Set a goal, monitor your progress, arrange your world for success, recruit a support team, and treat yourself.

Determine your activity goal for the first few weeks. It's a good idea to identify this in some way on your monitoring form. Next, place a check mark in the boxes representing the number of minutes that you exercise each day. If you started a walking program on Monday, and you walked 10 minutes, you could put a check mark in the 5-minute box and one in the 10-minute box. If you fulfill your goal, all of the colored boxes will have a check at the end of the week.
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There are many tools to measure your fitness progress, your mirror, scale, tape measure, fat calibrator, your clothes, energy level, ease of movement, improvements in strength, stamina and comments others make.

As you can see from the list, there are many ways to track whether or not you are making progress. Most of the time the only thing we pay any attention to is the number on our bathroom scale. The scale is a useful tool but not always a good indicator of the changes that are occurring in our bodies.

Stick to what you are doing and make small adjustments to your routine by increasing the weights you are using, the tempo at which you move the weight, and the number of repetitions. Speed up your pace when walking or climbing stairs. Add more activity to your daily life in order to continue seeing changes.

These items will help you track your progress. You may have some of them already, so check your cupboards and closets before you hit the shops. If you simply must go out and buy everything brand spanking new, it shouldn't run you more than about $125.
  • Tape measure. The soft kind is best, as you'll be wrapping it around your waist. Check the sewing box.
  • Heart rate monitor. We like Polar and Omron products; they have chest straps and monitor watches.
  • Pedometer. Men typically prefer the type that fits onto a belt or waistband; women usually opt for a thinner model, which fits on a bra strap. Our patients get much longer life from the belt variety and in our experience, it seems more accurate.
  • Blood pressure monitor. Go for one that has an arm cuff. They're easy to use, and most have memory and computer download capabilities. Snazzy. You could use the blood pressure machine at your local drugstore instead, but public machines tend not to be accurate, so your reading might be off.
  • Notebook. To track your progress.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.