I love numbers, weights and stats, because it give me a means of tracking my progress and seeing whether or not I’ve improved.

e.g. I used to be able to squat “x” but now I squat “y”, and I can do “x” for a warm-up set.

A couple of weeks ago I discovered an App, “BarSense”, that lets me take this to whole different level and track things like

  • bar path & deviation from the “ideal”
  • max bar speed

and omfg I think its the coolest thing ever because it lets me compare “good” and “missed lifts” to see what went wrong.

3 x 165lb Split Jerks

3 x 165lb Split Jerks

I think this is part of the reason why I enjoy Crossfit and Lifting so much (it being measurable…not the Barsense app…though thats cool too), because it is so based around numbers, quantifiable results and being able to track progress.

The other day I was asked to fill out a bunch of my stats (height, weight, max lifts, benchmark times), and this made me realize a couple of things

  1. I wish I’d done a better job at logging when I first started…seriously kicking myself for this
  2. I think I’m shrinking…I swear I was almost 5’4 when I started but when I was measured last I’m down to 5’3
  3. I still “fail” or “miss” as much as when I first started BUT I’m attempting weights and movements that I never even considered possible

How do you define progress?

its easy to think about progress in terms of PRs, winning competitions and other successes; however, I think it’s just important to look at the “missed lifts”, “failed attempts” and “fuck-ups” because those can be just as telling. I want you to think back to when you first started Crossfit (or lifting) and see if you can remember the type of numbers you were putting up… but I don’t want you to focus just on what your “PR lifts”;  I want you to look at the other ‘less exciting’ weights as well.

e.g. warm-up weights, “light” working sets,, “heavy or challenging” working sets, and the “target weights” you couldn’t yet lift but were aiming for

and compare them to where you’re at now, chances are there’s a pretty big difference.

40kg (88lb) Snatch at my 1st Lifting Competition

40kg (88lb) Snatch at my 1st Lifting Competition

“It Doesn’t get easier, you just get better”

The first time I tried a snatch with a “real bar” (i.e. not a dowel or PVC pipe) I fell over backwards and landed on my ass. That was a little less than 3 years ago and I’m pleased to report that it has been some time since an empty barbell has “gotten the best of me”; however, if I tried to tell you I’m now at the point where I no longer fail lift, that would be a downright lie. I probably miss lifts as much (if not more) than I did when I started, that hasn’t changed, what has changed though is the weight at which I start missing lifts and to me that’s as much a sign of progress as hitting PRs.

We can’t hit PRs every day and sometimes can we go weeks even  months without seeing an increase, but that doesn’t mean we’re not improving it just means we have to look at different things/numbers to gauge our progress….

  • improvements in technique at submaximal weights
  • speed under the bar
  • bar path
  • bar speed
  • consistency (i.e. missed vs successful lifts, particularly at our “higher percentages”)

…and to be honest I think these metrics that give a more accurate representation of our progress because it gives an overall picture. There are days when I’m “on”, the bar feels light and I’m hitting lifts near, at (or over) my previous PRs with relative ease; but there are also days when I feel like I’m dropping “light” lifts left right and centre and its on days these that its good to take a step back and realize that a year ago I was nowhere close to lifting or even attempting the weights I’m trying for now and that is progress.

How do you Define Progress? from Taryn Haggerstone on Vimeo.

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