T.M.I. – How do you track your progress ?

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Following my last post about what to measure (and hopefully show progress) – I then got to thinking about how I keep track of it all? Do I really need to track it all – or is it a case of Too Much Information?

I recently bought myself some new fitness “toys” – new scales and body fat calipers 😮

At the start of all this I was just using a notepad and pen, but a few weeks later I started tracking everything on an Excel spreadsheet so that it looked neater and easier to read and it also meant I could create graphs and charts etc (such a geek – lol).

The list of what I want to track seem to expand daily:

-Weight, Body Fat, Body Water, Bone Mass, Muscle Mass, Blood Pressure, HR, Size Measurements, Calories, Steps, Sleep, Weights lifted…….

So here we are little later and my Excel skills don’t seem to be able to cope with the level of information I want to record – so I thought there may be a smartphone app that could do the job for me.

The amount of fitness apps on both Google Play and iTunes is scary and it was hard to know where to start but the logical place was to start with the ones that I was already using to see if they were up to the job.

I have a Withings Pulse activity tracker – so looked at their app & website first:

Withings Health Mate

Automatically records my daily steps, height climbed, amount and quality of sleep and heart rate (if I use the scanner) however all other stats I would need to manually input eg. weight, blood pressure etc. Unfortunately the app doesn’t let you set your own goals and it’s also pretty limited in what else it will let you track – no workouts, calories, size measurements……. so this isn’t going to be the one.

My tracker does also sync with my calorie counter app so I had a look at that one too:

My Fitness Pal

Does a great job at keeping track of your calories (fantastic database) though it’s a bit of a ball-ache having to find each separate ingredient and approximate weight of what you actually consume as part of your home cooked meals eg. spag bol, chilli, casseroles etc. but does help to make sure that you reach your calorie goals (taking your exercise into account) and can provide a good breakdown of the nutritional value of what your eating in terms of carbs, protein and so on.

It does allow you to add strength training exercises and weights/reps used – but does not assign any calorie value to these and you can’t actually track your progress with them….. .. looks like I will just be keeping this one for my food diary.

No luck as yet – so I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying out some of the more popular apps:

Addidas MiCoach

I’m a big fan of the Addidas brand and seeing the recent ads on TV – had big hopes for this. Using their status the app has the additional element of having Andy Murray (or a choice of a couple of other voices) as your motivational coach (a bit like a sat nav for your sessions) telling you to “speed-up”, “keep going”, “one more rep” etc.

The ad gives the impression that you can use it for all sorts of sport or fitness activities – in reality if you haven’t bought the relevent specialist gizmo to go with it (eg. activity tracker) then it’s a little limited. Looks great for running, jogging, cycling etc but everything else comes under “Other”.

It does give you some weight routines but assumes you have access to cable weights, bosu ball etc. and tracking wise it lets you track what exercise you’ve done, weight and waist size and can give you great stats about any running that you’ve done but that’s about it – no progress on weights lifted, size, BMI…….  next!

Endomondo

Similar to MiCoach – seems to be most popular but again focuses more on outdoor activities like running, tracking distance, duration and speed. It does have options for other fitness like swimming and bodycombat but when it comes to weight training you cannot break it down to a particular routine……  out the window it goes.

Fitness Buddy

This one focuses a little more on the weight training. It has an impressive list of exercises and equipment and it offers a great of set routines based on focus area/level/equipment or you can create your own. Unfortunately, tracking progress is only on weight lifted for each exercise……   sigh.

Jefit

At last an overall fitness tracker and looks stunning. It has a great list of cardio exercises and offers apparently thousands of weight routines, or you can create your own and allows you to track weight, body fat, size measurements, total weight lifted each session and breaks down the percentage of body parts worked.

It has a web version and there is an “Elite” option (appx £25/yr or £5/mth) that offers “deeper” and additional progress tracking and workouts. Sadly the additional tracking does not include the additional measures I was hoping for like blood pressure, body water and calories.

The weight routines are also a bit funny in that when you start a particular exercise it also has a timer for resting in between sets (which you can skip or cut short) and there isn’t an easy way to switch round the order of the routine (eg if a particular machine was busy).

Looked really promising – but not quite fitting what I wanted.

VirtuaGym

Similar to Jefit (though not quite as swish looking) and offers similar functionality in that if offers a number of set routines depending on focus area, equipment, level or create your own and also includes a list of other exercises and classes. The free version only allows you to create one routine (though you can copy/amend it numerous times) however limits the list of weight exercises/routines available and you can track weight, waist size, body fat and heart rate.

The “Pro” version (similar cost as Jefit) offers all routines/exercises and more importantly a huge list of tracking measurements! The other feature I liked was that it allows you to complete a routine in whatever order you want and simply tick it off a list.

Again it’s till not got everything that I was looking for but it’s the closest I’ve seen so far – I’m going to give it a month to trial it – otherwise it’s back to my humongous spreadsheet 🙂

 

Does anyone else use any others or any of the above? Or do you just write it down on good ol’ fashioned paper? Let me know.

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