Waiting for Progress at the gym is a horrible waiting game. You go a few times a week, eat properly, get plenty of rest, and now you are just waiting for results to show up. It feels like it takes forever. You are ready to give up and there it is! The first signs of progress appear and you are re-energized, motivated, ready for your next workout.
Eventually, you start to see physical differences and your clothes start fitting better, but not every sign of progress is visual. It can manifest in a ton of different ways, such as better sleep at night or that you start feeling all around better; healthier.
You may notice that you have more energy and those 25lb weights that used to be heavy are now moving a LOT easier. These are all good things and all point towards overall progress towards your fitness goals.
You Feel Stronger, Healthier, Fitter
Regardless of what you do, if you do it consistently, you will improve at it. That is a universal truth throughout life. It applies across space and time and applies to your studies, career, relationships, and yes, even the gym. How you feel is a sure sign you are making progress in the gym.
When you first start working out, you will probably always feel tired and sluggish. There comes a time, however, that your energy levels begin to rise. Exercise causes your body to increase blood and nutrient flow throughout your body. This helps you to feel more energized and ready to take on the day!
Not only that, your immune system gets stronger. Getting in shape actually helps boost your immune system, keeping you healthier for longer periods of time!
You Reach for Heavier Weights
This sign will always appear out of nowhere. One day you are struggling to curl a 25lb weight, but the next time you do curls you lift those weights like Thor lifts his hammer.
Reaching for heavier and heavier weights is incredibly motivational. What was once hard is suddenly easier, so you lift a heavier one. It’s a cycle that continues throughout your entire gym life and always reminds you of where you started.
Of course, this doesn’t extend only to weights. When we exercise regularly, our cardio endurance and stamina rise as well. Maybe when you started you could only be able to run a mile (very slowly), if that. Now you can run two. Perhaps your overall run time per mile dropped significantly. Either way, progress is progress and a sure sign you are making progress in the gym.
Your Clothes Fit Differently
People love when their clothes start to fit better. Ask anyone who has ever moved down a size (or up, if that is what you are going for). A huge sign of fitness progress comes when shirts that used to be snug suddenly seem to hang off of you virtually overnight.
Shortly after that, your pants will probably change how they fit. They might become looser around the waist or tighter around your thighs, depending on your goal and what you have been working on.
Once you begin to notice that clothes fit you differently, others will too.
Sleep is Much Easier
This is my favorite part of a good fitness regimen. After a long day, you hit your bed and crash, hard. BUT when you have a good regimen going it is a different level of sleep.
You fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer. Studies have found that people who workout regularly get an hour and fifteen minutes more sleep a night than those who don’t. If that isn’t progress, I don’t what is.
On top of the amount of sleep you get, your body goes into overdrive repairing itself. This means that you sleep a bit deeper for longer while your body does what it needs to do.
Your Tests Show Good Results
Doctor’s regularly test us for any number of things. An all around good fitness regimen can do wonders for these tests. Lower cholesterol, lower body fat, less risk factors for mental and physical issues, and reduced risk of disease.
It feels good when you show up at the doctors office and when all is said and done, they congratulate you on your amazing blood pressure and overall fantastic health.
The Gym is Fun
One of the best signs that you are making progress in the gym comes when you realize that you enjoy working out. You look forward to your next workout because you genuinely enjoy it. Where you thought the boundaries of where you thought you could go are pushed in order to see exactly what you are capable of.
Your body starts to crave exercise. The few days you miss make you pretty sad but planning what you are going to do next becomes a game.
As an incredibly positive side note, actually making it to the gym is far easier than it was when you started. Do you remember how hard it was to drag yourself there some days? That feeling mostly goes away (unless your body really needs a rest). Working out becomes a habit that you crave and that you genuinely love.
Don’t Throw Your Scale Away
Just because it hasn’t moved where you want it to, doesn’t mean your scale is broken. Go by what you see in the mirror, not by what the scale is telling you. Muscle mass weighs more than fat. Although you may be getting slimmer you might be the same weight, possibly more. Less fat and more muscle is the ideal change in body composition we all strive for.
This change in overall composition, while dramatically different visually, may have almost no effect on the scale. Don’t worry, though. Looks can be deceiving. As long as you are dropping your overall bodyfat percentage in lieu of a fitter physique, you are on the right path.
Quitting isn’t the Answer
When you first started your career, you had no idea what you were doing but a few years later I bet you are much better off. That same concept applies to fitness. You might not see anything for a month, two months, maybe even three months but it will come. Consistency is key.
While it might seem like it is taking forever for the signs that you are making progress in the gym to appear, quitting won’t help. You will never get to where you are going if you stop trying. Look for these signs, and any other measurement you may have set up for yourself, to see your progress unfolding in front of your eyes.
Keep at it. Progress will come.