Barbell Shrugged

Get strong by monitoring your training

Doug Larson


  • Great article! I’ve been tracking my lifts but not times. Great little idea there. How do I track the fat loss to muscle gain ratio? I’m 31, 230lbs, fairly new to fitness (1.5 years) and loving lifting, trying to get strong, and down into the 190lbs range by June.

    • The best thing to do would be to get your body composition tested. Best options, search around locally for a place where you can do underwater weighting, DEXA scan, or a bod-pod device. They’re around and accurate. Other than that, try “body fat testing” in your search, if your gym doesn’t offer it.
      A few points that will help you. Eat well, and often. Just regulate your carbs as you need the fuel. Train of strength, just be control the volume. Doing loads of reps won’t make your stronger, but it could wear you down. For conditioning, again, go high-intensity, some long and slow stuff, but be mindful of taking things to far. They tightened diet and lifting will do most of the work for you.
      One more HUGE point – Get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep per night. That alone will help you drop the fat. Better hormones, training, recovery, etc, etc.

  • What about resting heart rate or blood pressure? Are either if those useful measures for determining work / recovery needs?

    • I mentioned HR briefly. Yes, that can certainly be used as an indicator. Track it and see what you notice. Blood pressure? …Not sure that one has been used. But, if it’s high, probably a good thing to keep aware of.

    • I am sure it’s been mentioned on here before, but hrv has been shown to be fairly accurate in measuring stress and fatigue. Very similar to tracking hr, hrv is the variability in each heart beat (variability is a good thing). With a four stroke engine, each stroke has a different function. The heart is the same way, valves are opening and closing with each beat. It’s also tied to the respiratory system so there are a lot of important things that happen at each individual beat. So when your heart rate has some variability one beat to the next, it means it is firing on all cylinders and is able to speed up and slow as the body needs. Could be a cool tool for the data junkies.

      • Heart rate is mentioned. It’s just, until everything else is being measured, I don’t think an HRV device/method is needed. For example, who cares what the HRV value is, if you are also not sleeping enough or not tracking training volume. Bigger principles will always displace smaller one’s. So, starting with the easiest stuff.

        • Your looking at HRV all wrong. HRV is not an input like sleep and training volume. HRV is actually an output or a flag like how you feel during training. HRV is the output of all the recovery or stress you put on your body the days before. HRV is the indicator that something is not right and if you are tracking your recovery (sleep length, sleep quality), stress (training, daily physical and mental stress), and diet (intake quality and quantity) you should be able to pinpoint the problem or set of problems. If you just track sleep with no output values you will just have a graph of hours slept. You have to tie that back to something like how you performed during a workout or how prepared you are to tackle your day based on your inputs. Its best to track how you felt during the day and during your workout (but this can be skewed by different things; if the workout is in your wheelhouse, if you had caffeine prior to working out, the hot chick in yoga pants is watching you, etc.). HRV is a form of output that, if done correctly, is not skewed, or has far less likelihood to be. I think tracking an output is the most important thing, because it will flag that something is wrong. Most importantly, you cannot know the results of an input if you do not track the output.

          • I don’t disagree with you. Just pointing out, my only point here was to communicate how important it is to be aware of what you’re doing. Most people track and monitor nothing. They might be interested in learning about HRV (a cool thing), and tracking these variables. BUT, that analysis might have limited value for someone who, for example, doesn’t even really track volume, or something very simple, like their sleep. Keep in mind, we run across people every day who obsess over analysis and detail (supplements, programming, etc), but then sleep 5-6 hours a night, and aren’t aware of a problem. Sometime we can deep dive this and do more on the HRV front.

    • Yeah I have not read anything on blood pressure being a function of overtraining or recovery. There is some stuff on optimum training habits for people with hypertension(high blood pressure). Moderately high intensity, short workouts have been shown to decrease hypertension. So crossfit if done around 80-85% of max hr will actually lower blood pressure. Though I’m pretty sure working out in general lowers blood pressure. I think the study included athletes with hypertension though, so the idea was finding out the best workout option to reduce blood pressure. Something about the atrium thickening at too high intensity is not the best.

  • “Track your progress!”, the first advice my Crossfit coach told me when I said I wanted to train harder. I am 4 months away of it and I feel much better seing how I’m improving every week. Amzing. For me, a geek of crossfit and It I’m always searching new Apps for crossfit . 🙂 you can get it for everything, diet, timer, track your Wods,..

  • Thanks for the great article, Tony. I would like to implement this in a training program for high jumpers. How many times a week do you recommend doing the ankle rocker exercises as part of an overall jumping program? Thank you.

Your Cart