Many strength training exercises (and lots of workout equipment) promise to make you stronger. Here, how to measure your results and speed up your gains.
If you can bench press or squat more weight today than you could last month, it's obvious that you're getting stronger. But picking up a heavier kettlebell isn't the only way to tell whether your strength training is paying off. Check out these three alternate ways to track your progress and know for sure that you're gaining strength.
Follow Your Heart
It's no secret that doing intense training revs your heart rate. But tracking this stat can clue you into strength gains as well as cardiovascular improvement. "If you're getting stronger, your heart rate won't jump as high when you're lifting the same amount of weight in future sessions," says Josh Axe, a certified nutritionist and co-founder of the BurstFIT interval-training program. To track your strength this way, wear a heart-rate monitor whenever you work out and always take a look at the data afterward.
Stay in Tune with Household Tasks
You might be most aware of how much weight you can lift when you're standing in front of a row of dumbbells. But one of the main reasons to work on your strength is so the things you do outside of the gym feel easier. "As your strength improves, you'll notice that you have an easier time doing simple tasks of everyday living," says Todd Miller, Ph.D., and vice president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Pay attention to how you feel doing everything from carrying groceries or a child up a flight of stairs to opening jars in the kitchen. "These activities will all become less fatiguing as your strength increases," he says.
Try a New Tracker
The number of steps you take daily is a snap to follow, thanks to the plethora of activity trackers on the market. But PUSH, a new band available November 3, is the first one that promises to measure your strength. It monitors the reps and sets of each exercise you do and calculates your force, power, balance, and speed. With the included app, you can look back on your progress and share the stats with friends or a trainer to stay accountable.