By Sam Mitchell, PN1, CSCS
“After every class, my awesome coaches thoughtfully remind me to record my score for today’s workout. But why? I was here, I know what I did and didn’t do. What is the point in putting it in a computer for the world to see?” There are a number of reasons why we keep score – some more obvious than others.
The first reason is to track our progress. This may be shown by improvements in strength, endurance, or movement capabilities. If you never record your score, it is harder to see when you achieve a new personal record for a lift, or when you improve a score on a benchmark or named workout. It also allows you to keep track of the scales you are using for each workout. This is useful in showing movement transitions, such as moving from dumbbell press to handstand push-ups. We can use it to track how we scaled workouts, allowing us to add variety, like alternating between jumping pull-ups and ring rows for pull-up progression. All of these things are easier to do when we keep track of our scores and the exercises we are scaling.
Having previous scores can also help you plan out your workout. You can use previous strength numbers to plan out how best to “build up to a heavy set of 3”. Knowing you previously scored 4 1/2 rounds on a 15 min workout, you know if you keep your round average under 3 min you will improve your score. After all, these scores are nothing but a method to quantify our improvements. Sometimes it’s hard to notice the changes we are making to our bodies by busting our butts at the box. But witnessing the steady improvement in our scores gives us that proof that what we are doing is working.
Another great benefit of scorekeeping is competition. The previous section highlighted the internal competition; the struggle to beat our previous scores.
We can also use external competition to help motivate us. Keeping score against others helps us give each workout just a little bit more. Knowing we have our friends and fellow athletes trying to move faster, and working just as hard as us, pushes us to do more than we thought we could. (Of course, healthy competition comes second to proper technique and good movement.)
Competition is awesome for some of us. However, comparing scores is not all about competition.
Most people have another athlete whos score is often similar to theirs. You can look at this person’s score from earlier in the day and use that information to help motivate you to hit a certain number or time. Or, maybe use their score as a guide that a particular day is a good workout to scale weight up or down.
Not everyone likes recording their score. That’s understandable. You can still push hard and give the workouts everything you have but you don’t have to care about the leaderboard. When inputting scores there is a “public” box that will keep your scores just for you. That way you and your coaches can still benefit from tracking even if competition isn’t your thing.
Keeping score really helps your coaches. The scores provide valuable information on the programming for each day’s workout. It can show us the movements our individual athletes excel in or struggle with. It tells us where athletes have strengths or weaknesses; what energy systems need to be better targeted in the future; and whether programming is achieving the desired outcome. All of this information comes from what we see in classes and what we get out of looking back at scores for each week. We want to keep improving the programming for you and seeing your scores does a lot to make that happen.
Keeping score is telling a story. The story of your workout. There’s a notes section for a reason. Maybe you only got 4 hours of sleep last night. That is going to affect your score. Did you work abnormally long hours today? That could have an impact. Maybe you attended a different class time than normal or you’re feeling a little sick. All of these are things that you should document in your notes section of the workout. Then, when that workout comes back around, you have those notes to help you evaluate your progress. Dive into your scorekeeping! Get scientific and see what you notice. Maybe you get better results at certain times of the day or after eating certain foods. Trends are sure to show up. Who knows what you will learn about yourself.
Overall, keeping score is a pretty minimal part of the workout. Most of us do it at the end of class as an afterthought. But taking the time to do it has clear benefits. It benefits your competitive friends who push themselves to keep up with you or pace themselves based on what you accomplished. It helps your coaches who use that information to program what you and all the athletes need and to help classes run smoothly. And it benefits you, to help plan your workouts, track your progress, and quantify your results.