Quantifying Success: Before Pics and Testing

Before starting a workout routine, it’s a great idea to take note of where you’re coming from. While running Phase 1, you will want to eat as much as you need to in order for your body to repair itself and build muscle. This means you will be eating above your maintenance number of calories. You’ll be gaining weight. This weight will be both muscle and fat. For some, this can be worrisome. It is possible to minimize the fat gain but it requires a great amount of focus on your diet.

This is why it’s important to remember that the scale doesn’t matter as long as you see improvements in the mirror. You might notice some extra fat, but as long as you’re seeing some muscle growth underneath it then you’re headed in the right direction! However, you’re going to see your body every day and you probably won’t be able to notice any changes in your physique. This is why taking a good set of ‘before’ pictures can be helpful. You’ll have something to look back at and be able to evaluate how you’re doing. Nobody needs to see these except for you. When you stick to your routine and work hard on maintaining your diet, these pictures will be proof of your efforts. I like to take new pictures every 3-4 weeks. Go ahead and have fun with them. Make sure you do the standard front/side/back relaxed pictures from (at least) neck to ankle but feel free to include some fun flexing pictures. Just do the same poses in the same way at the end of your training.

If you’re following a progressive strength program, then you will need to know what your current strength is in the major lifts (squat, deadlift, bench press, OHP, and power cleans) as a starting point. It’s ok to underestimate your strength now. If you find that you’re completing workouts too easily, just double the weight increment for the next week. In addition to the major lifts, you may also want to figure out how many chin-ups you can do. In Phases 2 and 3, we will be including various jumping and sprinting exercises. Testing your vertical and broad jump as well as your 10, 20, and 40 yard sprint times will be good for evaluating your improvements.

Off-season training starts next Monday for me. Until then, I’ll be getting an accurate measurement of my weight and body fat/lean body mass as well as collecting my own before pictures. I’ll be testing my major lift strength, jumping, and speed. Then it’s time to buckle down and lift some heavy weights!

Thanks for reading!

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