Let's be honest, going to the gym is never a waste of time. Movement is life, so if you're there, you're reinforcing the habit of going, of moving, of health and longevity. However, when we have goals like getting stronger, building muscle or losing some fat, we must be progressing.
So how can you be sure you're progressing? These are a few measures I use to track whether I'm progressing or not.
1. I've increased the weight I'm using. Even if I have increased weight by the smallest amount, that's progress! You want progressive overload. Even if it's for one set, then dropping back down, that's great.
2. I've increased reps. If I've increased by even 1 single rep, that's one extra rep each week that will contribute to building strength and muscle.
3. I've improved my technique. This counts BIG TIME. If I've previously been squatting a certain amount for 8 reps with partial depth, and then I squat the same amount for 8 reps with full depth, you bet that counts as progress! Because we're stretching the muscle (quads) further with the same load creating a new stimulus that we haven't previously been exposed to.
Master form and technique is always essential and beneficial.
Please do note that some weeks I have off sessions (as we all do), that I might not progress in any of the above areas... and that's okay too. Sometimes we need to prioritize rest and recovery or have a de-load week.
Now obviously having a program geared towards progression is key! I wouldn't write a program with the same goal every phase (same reps, same sets, etc). I want to ensure we're increasing with either frequency, volume or intensity.
So next time you are in the gym or doing your home workout, even if you're bound by a 'rep range' in your program, try to increase ONE of the above. You will reap all the benefits and feel super accomplished!