In the photo above depicting an athlete competing in a Power Lifting Contest doing a Deadlift, it is easy to see as to whether the person is making progress by the weight they are lifting….just as a person who competes in a running and/or a biking sport can measure their progress by the times for certain distances they are competing in, can measure it? But it gets trickier for someone who is not competing in a specific sport to measure their progress…and why measure anyway?
I have helped many people achieve certain physical attainments over the years and it always amused me that seemingly intelligent people did the same routine, or the same run, for years thinking that they were doing themselves a lot of good! When I tested them in a physiological test, they invariably measured in the ‘poor’ catagory because of the fact that the body adapts to a certain stimulus after a matter of weeks and does not improve…in fact, regresses…if you don’t change the stimulus? So this is the first reason you should measure progress regularly and it doesn’t matter as to whether you have been exercising for many years or not?
And it doesn’t matter what level you are at? Starting at the slowest level, e.g. in rehabilitation or at a novice level you should measure as to whether you are doing specific basic movements completely…through the full range of movement and as to whether you have regained natural movement patterns back or not. After major knee surgery and a long recovery not being able to move, I personally ensured that my first priority was to walk and then run correctly. I went through a degree of pain, pushing both mentally and physically not to limp and to move in a balanced way so that normal movement patterns were achieved.
The above example is only a basic measurement of achievement but I think that, even though I achieved some high level physical performances over the years, this attainment was the most important in my life because it ensured a normal existence in the physical sense as I have got older. There are far greater achievements by people who were paralized through major trauma to their spine being able to walk again and therefore go about a normal life. These are examples of working from the lowest common denominator, nevertheless examples of attainment. They are also examples where one could see a specific goal in mind and being able to take steps to achieve them. But what about the ‘average’ exerciser?
Even at this level it is imperative that you have specific goals in mind and once they are achieved, to reassess goals beyond this level. Your ultimate goal may at a moderate level, but in whatever level of attainment you wish to reach, you always come out the winner! If you do this and you are enjoying what you are doing, your continued compliance with an exercise program is stronger?
This is the first posting of a short series on measurement in exercise programs.