Getting your clients to eat well and train hard is obvious. After all, these are two of the things that make the most significant difference in health and fitness.
But a third thing people often forget is progress tracking. Your client might have a plan, but tracking progress is necessary to determine if they are moving on the right track.
The question is, how do you, as a coach, track your client’s fitness progress effectively?
1. Body Weight Measurements
Weight measurements can provide valuable data and tell you if your client is moving in the right direction. That is particularly true when looking to lose weight because changes should occur at regular intervals.
Have your client weigh themselves on an empty stomach in the morning after going to the bathroom. They should weigh themselves at least four times per week and calculate the averages for you to track.
Data shows that regular weighing promotes weight loss and positive habits (1).
If your client has a fancy scale that shows body fat percentage, you can track that, too.
Keep in mind that these scales can be inaccurate by as much as five percent, so you shouldn’t put too much stock into the reading (2). Similar to weight measurements, only look for a trend.
2. Circumference Measurements
The second way to track your clients’ progress is to have them take circumference measurements every two to four weeks.
Your clients should have a simple tape measure and track the following:
- Upper arms
- Waist (three finger-widths above the navel)
- Waist (at navel) (3)
- Waist (three finger-widths below the navel)
The tape should fit snugly around each body part but warn your clients against wrapping it too tightly because it can compress tissue, leading to inaccurately low readings.
Have them write each value to 0.1 of an inch or centimeter and look for gradual increases or decreases, depending on their goals.
3. Progress Photos
Getting progress photos from clients is the third good way to track improvements. Looking at how a person’s body changes at regular intervals (e.g., monthly) is an excellent way to tell if they are building muscle or losing fat.
Advise your clients to take photos by following these rules:
- Once per month
- At the same time each month––ideally, in the morning and on an empty stomach
- Have them stand against a natural light source (e.g., a window)
- It’s better to place the phone or camera on something instead of having someone photograph them
- Full-body photos; no selfies
- Photos of the front, side, and back relaxed
Store photos in folders and compare them to gain a deeper insight.
4. Gym Performance
The final good way to track client progress is by looking at their gym performance and if it improves over time.
For example, suppose you’re working with a client to help them build muscle. In that case, they should ideally see improvements in their performance (lifting more weight, doing more reps, etc.) because progressive tension overload is necessary for hypertrophy (4).
Similarly, if a client wants to shed fat, the goal should be for them to maintain their performance or even improve it as they get leaner.
Clients should log the exercises, the number of sets, the loads they lift, and how many reps they get per set. They can send over the information in a spreadsheet for you to review.
Tracking your client’s progress can be challenging, but there are several practical things to measure for optimal results.
Aside from giving you insight, progress tracking can be a great way for your clients to be more accountable and motivated.