How to make progress (gains) in the gym

Today, I began a new cycle of weight training…..I’ve noticed I’ve made gains in strength and now it’s on to phase 2!

Every time I go to the gym, I make a conscious effort to increase the weight on the third and fourth (heavy weight x’s 5 repetitions). Sure, with each set I do, I add a little on to the following sets; but, I increase the last 2 a little more. The reason for that is simple: I want to get stronger! Working harder makes stronger muscles, and the stronger the muscles, the more calories I’ll burn. If, on that last (4th) set, my muscles can’t get all five, I’ll stop. When the muscle being worked begins to twitch, you’re reaching muscle failure. Don’t worry! That’s supposed to happen! Don’t try to force the remaining repetitions on your own. If you have a workout partner, have them assist you. Their job is to assist you as minimally as possible. It’s intended for you to do the majority of the exercise. They are there mainly to keep you stable. Since this is a solo gig for me, I’ll stop when the muscle says, “Nope! Not going to get them last reps!” I don’t want to cause injury to myself. I know myself pretty well, but I also tend to push myself. I have to know where that line is, otherwise, I’ll injure myself, and then it’s back to square one.

Making progress (or gains, as most weight lifters like to call it) is rather simple: Each time you get to that specific muscle group you’re working on, add a little weight to each set. I like to keep a log in my notes. For example, when I work my chest, and I’m bench pressing, I’ll make a note of the amount of weight for one side (example: 30 pounds, which doubled-30 pounds on the other side-is 60 pounds). I tend to not add bar weight, even though I’m pushing the bar. The reason I don’t is because the weight bar is on a gliding rail, so you’re not fully lifting and balancing the entire weight. You’re strictly gliding the weight up and down, and the machine is stabilizing it for you. Sure, you are pushing 60 pounds, plus the weight of the bar, but I have to ask a trainer at the gym how much the bar is, but how much difference is taken off because of it being on a straight rail. Then, when chest day comes around again, I’ll add some weight to that 30, increasing my strength. I do this for each and every exercise. My notes serve two main purposes: To show me the gains I’ve made, and to remind me of what exercises I’m doing.

For me, it’s important to keep track of the exercises. Then, one day, I can reflect back on where I was (at the bottom). Everything we start in life begins at the number 1….the Alpha….Numero Uno. Weight lifting and weight loss is no different. Today, I Changed my routine up a little. Instead of planking and jumping jacks, I decided to jog around a section of the gym. Giving my heart rate a bump. Next week’s cardio exercise I’m going to mix in some jogging with walking. The goal from that point on out is to jog a little more each time, until I’m jogging a mile non-stop, then a mile and a half, and so on and so on. This week’s cardio workout will be me, attending a spin class with my daughter-in-law and sister-in-law. I’ll write about my experience soon after! Increasing the weight amount, or, if you’re walking for exercise, or whatever other form of exercise you’re doing, increasing distance and speed does wonders for our self-esteem. Think about when you first started. The thought of bench pressing 155 pounds, 5 times, in less than a month since you began lifting seems far-fetched. BUT! Guess who did that this morning????

 Keep pushing yourself, with whatever form of exercise you’re doing! You’ll be amazed at the gains and how far you’ve come!


Until then….



    1. These are tips that have worked for others, and I’m positive they will work for you too! Any advice I get I’ll share in a post 🙂

    1. That’s great you’re hitting the elliptical! I have to work at doing that! I’m used to the treadmill. I use it every time I work out, 15 minutes of walking, building up until I’m almost to a jog! Then I hit the weights. I love the release of adrenaline from lifting weights! Good for you on eating real food! One thing I’m aggressively working on doing

  1. I agree on keeping track on your exercise. It will be rewarding to see the progress when you hit the goal. You can also use it to motivate yourself that you are making progress 🙂

    1. I’m already seeing some slight changes in my appearance. I feel that it’s only going to get better! Thank you for your response! Stay tuned for more progressions!

  2. It is so true, you need to look at each of your gains and keep moving forward. Sometimes it is hard to see progress in the beginning.

  3. Fitness and weight loss is such a journey. It’s good to find motivators along the way. Definitely keep up with the hydration and good luck!

  4. Hydration is KEY in so many areas of our lives! I try my best to drink the amount of water I’m supposed to but some days it doesn’t happen and I can tell!! OOPS!!

  5. I’m hoping that I can get my butt into the gym this week. It has been over 6 months and I have to start over. It is worth it but it has been discouraging dealing with health problems.

    1. ah yes….the bad health problems! I’m sorry you’re dealing with them! Maybe ask your doctor what you can do to work around them? Just a suggestion! I have to use my foam roller on my back every night before bed, as well as ice when needed. Works wonders!

  6. “Keep pushing yourself.” – I’ll keep this in mind because I stopped exercising after only a day because of muscles pains. LOL. Thanks for all the tips!

    1. I found that by drinking a protein shake within an hour of working out and one before bed, my muscles are recovering quicker! I think there are pictures on google on how to use a foam roller to massage the achy muscles! Upping my water intake I feel is helping with recovery as well

  7. My stack is just shy of halfway. I’m getting close to where I want on my running and am ready to start strength training again.

    1. Thank you! The key is to work certain muscle groups on different days (ex: chest and triceps day 1, back and biceps day 2, etc). Start off LIGHT, to work on proper form, then work your way up, weight wise. You’re going to be sore, and that’s ok! That means you worked them muscles! If you have a Planet Fitness nearby, I suggest joining there. They have knowledgeable trainers who will be more than happy to assist! You can do it!

    1. Yes stay hydrated! Little known fact: staying hydrated during the cold months is just as important! Thank you for the well wishes! With the support from people like you and my family I’ll do great!

  8. I wish I could do some of these exercises you’ve been doing. However, upon advice of my doctor, I am not allowed any strenuous exercises. I am currently at my ideal weight so all I have to do is maintain. I walk a lot, that is my daily exercise. I wish you well in your journey!

    1. I’m glad you’ve consulted with your doctor on doing more strenuous exercises and they’ve advised you. Most people wouldn’t go to their doctor, then injure themselves. You’re walking for exercise and that’s amazing too!

  9. Exercise or going to a gym is an important thing to do. We will be physically fit and healthy as well.

  10. It’s been so long since I last went to the gym. I think it’s awesome that you’re focusing on your health. That’s my goal too, which is why I’ve been following a whole 30 diet since the year started and it’s been amazing!

    1. Good for you! I’m just beginning to feel at home at the gym, mostly because of how it’s laid out. The old gym I used to go to was small and it was laid out well

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