I started hitting the gym as a scrawny 16 year old. I didn't know what I was doing then, I just sort of rolled into the local fitness center and did whatever my best friend read in magazines. I can't tell you what I could squat, but by the end of that year, I could curl heavier dumbbells than a lot of guys were pressing.
Eventually I found a good online community, read some real literature and followed a real training program: starting strength. For the first time I had goals, I wasn't a twig anymore, but I wanted to be strong. I saw guys my age benching two plates with ease and that became my yardstick.
With a real workout routine, it became critical to track my workouts to measure my progress. I didn't want to carry notebook to the gym, so I logged all of my workouts in a notepad document when I got back to my dorm room. The weight came quickly, even with my college diet of whiskey and pop tarts. It was fun to pull 365 pounds off the ground or to push 245 off of my chest. I wasn't the strongest or most ripped guy at the gym, but it was exciting to see consistent progress.
And then, I plateaued. I did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong that year. Tracking my workouts meant I could see exactly how much weight I was lifting over time and allowed me to make accurate calls in the gym for my next session. I followed a proven program that focused on building a strong foundation. But I failed to adapt when my body became used to the same workouts and the gains halted.
Gravitus Workout Log
And that was the last time I hit the gym with real goals. My interests started to change as I learned to enjoy running while in the Marine Corps. I combined the two and largely abandoned my strength goals for a more balanced endurance and strength routine, but the nail in the coffin came with a herniated disc while doing heavy deadlifts.
The habits were formed. Working out, whether strength training or running were engrained in my lifestyle and I continued to do one or the other regularly as I settled into a permanent maintenance state. I setup micro goals every few months when one side of the equation got out of balance. If I felt a little tubby or slow, I would focus on improving my runs for distance and time, when my clothes felt too loose I would up my calorie intake and focus again on strength.
Over time, the running aspect started winning more and more. That is, until I started working on Gravitus. I knew the benefits of tracking workouts and I already used social tracking apps for my runs, so I was really excited to help develop a community for lifters, but I could not have predicted how much using the app would improve my workouts.
Gravitus is currently under development, launching soon, but we already have a dedicated group of beta users. Some of them are long time friends. I've personally always preferred to workout alone, but it is incredibly motivating to follow my friends and track their progress.
Now when I hit the gym, it's as if I always have a workout buddy looking over my shoulder keeping me honest. I'don't skip squats anymore, I know that I'll get called out.
So Gravitus is bringing me back into the gym more, social pressure is forcing me back into a more balanced routine and I'm getting great advice from friends, but that's not it. At it's core, we're building a to-the-point tracking app. Something that is easy and fast to use so that you can focus on your lifts rather than fumbling with your phone when you should be lifting.
Progressive overload is the most basic principle to gaining strength or size and to implement it, you need to know that you are increasing weight or volume over time. I've heard and told the "I remember what I did last workout" lie countless times. It might be true, you might remember what you did last workout, but do you remember what you lifted two months ago? Are you getting stronger or are you just going through the motions? Gravitus has the last several months of my workout history and now as I log my workout, it's front and center. If I hit 5 reps last week, I'm going for 6 today. If I substitute in an exercise I haven't done for a month, I know exactly where I left off.
It's still early days at Gravitus and we're reaping those n00b gains building a great product for the lifting community. Sign up for early access to gravitus and see how tracking your workouts can help you reach your goals.