Tracking Strength Training Results


So I’ve taken the plunge and purchased a set of PowerBlock U90 adjustable dumbbells. I’m starting a Fitness Blender program to try and get into strength training after not having done anything for several years.

I did the first workout a week ago, and ended up with a severe case of DOMS. Around 24-72 hours, I was having difficulties walking, and in particular standing up or sitting down. I struggled on the last couple of reps for each exercise, but was able to complete them. I’m assuming the DOMS is just something I need to spend 1-2 weeks working through?

I then injured myself mountain biking by slipping on a rocky creek crossing and landing on my left elbow and right thumb. I’m nearly recovered, so will be picking back up the dumbbells again in the next couple of days. Instead of just jumping back in, I’m wanting to approach this from the perspective of keeping measurements and quantifying my results – much like FTP tests.

I’m looking for strength, and not muscle growth. Given I’m on a forum dedicated to training, tracking progress, etc – what is a good way for tracking my progress with strength training at regular intervals? I’m guessing there are different exercises I can try with 1RM (or other rep maxes?) to test different muscle groups, but I’m not sure how or if there is even a way to standardise it. Obviously, I also want to track my results so I can keep going for progressive overload and challenging myself.

Or more broadly, is anyone able to recommend a good strength training book that covers the A to Z of strength training such as how to set goals, start a program, track progress, some (basic) physiology, etc?


You can add a workout to the TR calendar and put notes in there if you want to track what Rx you are doing, reps, weight, etc.

I started lifting in October and was very sore for days after every workout. I was alternating between 2 or 3 workouts per week depending on what else I was doing (work, running, bike). Once I got to a level I was (am) happy with I went to 1 day a week and I’ve kept all of my 1 rep max weights the same. It is pretty easy to maintain and I can do my weights in under 30 minutes a week. I also no longer have any soreness or at least not enough to impact any other workouts I do (run, bike).

I think workouts are very individual but I’ve settled on a circuit training plan that works for me such as:

25 Ab Crunches (on the mat, on a Rx ball or with overhead weights, whatever I’m in the mood for)
Bench Press - Warmup weight but to failure, then 3-5 reps heavier
25 Hanging Leg Raise - Super helpful for my cycling, hips and abs
Dips to failure - love them
Deadlift - Warmup weight 10 reps, then 3-5 reps heavier

Repeat 3 times, not much rest between circuits, a few minutes at most.

Once warmed up I will increase my bench and deadlift weights to my target and rep those to failure, usually between 3 and 5 reps. When I say to failure I’m not talking about blowing up my joints or dropping weights etc., but where I’m struggling to get the last one up and wouldn’t be sure I could do another without a spotter, which I don’t have.

YMMV - good luck!

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I’m not sure how much knowledge you already have, or what experience you have of weight training, so apologies if this is too basic. You’ve already identified that progression is the fundamental measure of strength training, ie lifting heavier, or lifting with more volume. 1Rm is one measure, but won’t necessarily be the only measure, particularly if you’re training on your own, as you may not have anyone else to spot you. You can use lighter loads than 1RM to estimate your 1RM (see for example and this will give you one indication of progress.

There are templates online that you can use to measure progress (search Google), and various apps that do the same (or just be old school and use a notebook). Set some strength goals and consistently work towards them - I set goals and review them monthly. I may continue to have the same goals over several months, but some of them will change depending on the training focus I have for that month.

This website is pretty good for the fundamentals. There’s a good amount of basic, free information on the website that’s really useful, including sample programmes. A helpful book is The Muscle and Strength Pyramids by Eric Helms and Andrea Valdez (try Amazon or the Ripped Body site for this). The Science and Development of Muscle Hypertrophy by Brad Schoenfeld is more technical and in-depth (and also much more expensive). It’s pretty readable though and you can get this on Amazon. People like Eric Helms, Menno Henselmans, and Renaissance Periodisation often post easy to understand evidence based knowledge on Instagram or Facebook, or on their websites, which will also help you with the basics of programming, and working out what works best for you. As with anything, your body adapts to new loads and new exercises, and designing a programme that provides you with some changes in lifts, volume and load on a cyclical basis may be helpful (there are various schools of thought about this though). Having some understanding of physiology is particularly helpful in helping you adapt your exercise selection to suit your body, rather than just following a cookie cutter programme and will help you shape your strength training so that it complements your mountain biking rather than competes with it.

Once you have mastered the skill of the lift (essential to prevent injury), I’ve found that the key indicators of success are training consistency and achieving progressive overload.

Your experience of DOMS sounds painful! People experience this to varying degrees and it should reduce as your body becomes more used to the movement patterns and loads. If the DOMS continues to be as severe after more than a few weeks, try reducing your load or frequency slightly to see if that makes a difference. You could also try extending the time between strength training sessions to allow your body more time to recover and see if that works.

Hope that at least some of this is helpful!

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