The Match 5: Observe progress

For all of our fans who send us questions on our Twitter and Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week we draw on our pool of editors and experts to help you with any questions or challenges you have with your fitness regimen. This week, Dan Trink, CSCS, Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance NYC and Founder of TrinkFitness, answers your questions about tracking your workout progress.

1) Effective Chest Training - Question from Ronald Parham: What is a good way to structure my chest training so that I can gradually increase my barbell bench press?

"If you want to improve your 1RM maximum on the bench press, it's best to follow a tried and true powerlifting-like program because lifters from this world are really experienced at improving that lift. There are many to choose from, but I'm a big fan of the simplicity of Jim Wendler's 5/3/1 program. In short, Wendler provides a template for using percentages of your 1RM for different rep ranges in each workout and ways to improve on that week-by-week.

Additionally, I urge you to include military presses, external shoulder rotation, pull-ups, and core training in your program, as training these synergistic muscles will have a bearing on improving your bench press. Since, at the end of the day, you only have a limited amount of time on the bench each week, incorporate these exercises into the rest of your program to aid in progress.”

2) When do I need to weigh myself - asked by Chris Mezey: How often (and when) should I weigh myself to know if I'm losing weight?

“Your most accurate weight is displayed first thing in the morning after you urinate. This is the best way to standardize it since the number is less affected by what you ate that day and how much you exercised, giving you more apples to compare apples every time you step on the scale. I like it when weight loss/fat loss clients weigh themselves twice a week. This gives me enough data to monitor progress without driving her crazy with minor daily fluctuations that inevitably occur with body weight. I usually go on Sunday and Thursday mornings."

3) Healthy Weekly Weight Loss - Asked by Thomas Michael Anderson: I'm trying to lose fat as fast as possible, but what is a safe amount to lose each week or month?

“You can lose fat pretty quickly. However, there is a difference between body weight and fat. Body weight includes muscle, water, organs, and every other non-fat tissue in the body. Losing Weight Rapidly Due to Muscle Wasting or Dehydration You brace yourself for a slower metabolism, impaired performance in the gym, and health risks. A good rule of thumb for safe weight loss that you can maintain long-term is one to two pounds a week. That number can easily double in the first week or two of a new eating plan."

4) When to Switch Routines - asked by Travis Hill: If I'm trying to get bigger and slowly increasing the amount of food I eat, how much time do I give one workout routine a chance before switching to another?

“That can depend on several factors, including where you started, your training age (how many months or years of training you have), your recovery techniques, and even the training program itself three weeks. Beginners and intermediates typically stay in a program for 4-6 weeks. This gives them enough time to achieve neurological and muscular adjustment to the program (a good thing!) without reaching a plateau (a bad thing). ."

5) Benchmark Goals - Asked by Bryan Livingston: What are some strength and endurance benchmarks I should be hitting by the age of 23, 5'10", 160lbs?

“It really all depends on your goals. But shooting for 1x bodyweight bench press (160 pounds in your case), 1.5x bodyweight squats (240 pounds), and 2x bodyweight deadlifts (320 pounds) are good numbers to develop strength. Running a mile in less than 6 minutes is a good achievement. Even better if you can maintain that pace for 3 miles. Just think of the old adage “jack of all trades, master of nothing”. The greater the variety of strength and endurance qualities in your training, the less likely you are to excel at any one of them."

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