Whatever your fitness regimen consists of, whether you are resistance training or cardio training, tracking your fitness progress is essential to monitor your improvements and ensure you are focused on achieving your goals. You don’t have to write down every weight, rep, or resistance you increase, but it is recommended. It is possible to remember all your progressions, but it can be tough. Whatever method you choose, just be sure it works well for you.

There is much more to tracking your fitness progress than to simply writing down each time you lift more weight or run a minute or two longer on the treadmill. A well-thought and planned progression can help you achieve all your fitness goals. A personal trainer can plan and individualize a great program for you, and there are many training programs written by fitness professionals on the web or in articles at your disposal.

If you are ever having trouble finding a good plan, there are a few simple rules you can follow to make sure you are on the proper track. The first thing you need to do is decide how frequently you will be training. Training frequency is related to the amount and intensity of training you engage in. Less vigorous exercise can be performed more often and there is not as much time needed for recovery. If you plan on training hard when you workout, the frequency of workouts will be greater, and the time between workouts will be longer to allow for proper tissue remodeling.

Your training frequency and intensity will also be contingent upon your current training status and workout history. As a general rule, if you are a beginner, you should workout 2-3 times per week. If you have intermediate training status with some basic skill, you can workout 3-4 times per week. An advanced skill level will allow you to workout 4-7 times per week.

With resistance training, there are two main periodization models to choose from and follow: Linear Periodization and Undulating Periodization. Both are broken down into macrocycles, mesocycles, and microcycles.

A an example of a Linear Periodization model would have a macrocycle of six months, two mesocycles of three months each, and microcycles of two weeks each within each mesocycles. To track your fitness progression with this model, begin by setting a goal. Say, for instance, you wanted to increase your maximum strength on the bench press. Find your 1-rep max and then begin with roughly 60-70% of that max. If that number is 150 lbs (for this example), you would train and finish 3 sets of 12 reps (with good form) three times per week for the first two weeks, or first microcycle. During the next microcycle (next two weeks), increase your weight by roughly 20 lbs to 170 lbs and only do 8 reps. The next microcycle would see another 20 lb increase to 190 lbs and only 4 reps. At this point you begin another microcycle with 165 lbs doing 12 reps, the next with 185 doing 8 reps, and the final microcycle of 205 lbs with 4 reps (still three times per week). An interim week would be next in which you test your 1-rep max on the first day and track the progress of your new strength gains. You would rest the final two training days of that week.

With a model like this as an example, you can begin to see a pattern of the importance of following a proper periodization routine as well as the importance of writing down and tracking your progress. If you’ve made the decision to begin a workout routine, you need to track your progress so that you are getting everything out of every workout you pour so much sweat into. You don’t want to waste anything or grow complacent with a workout routine.

Similar to the Linear Periodization Model is the Undulating Periodization Model. This is also a macrocycle of two months with the same mesocycles and microcycles. The only difference is in the number of reps performed and the amount of weight. Instead of the 3 sets of 12 with 150 lbs three times per week, you would begin with 150 lbs on Monday doing 12 reps, move to 170 lbs Wednesday with 8 reps, and 190 lbs Friday with 4 reps.

Both models represent training regimens in which a goal is set and progress is specifically tracked to ensure you meet those goals. These were example models to show the importance of training with purpose. If you can consistently work toward a goal and track your fitness progress correctly, you will achieve any fitness objective you set for yourself.