There are four main ways that I track my gains and progress:
This ensures that I am actively pushing myself. Generally speaking I try to beat my previous training session in several ways. Either in number of reps, sets, or actual weight pushed. As an example oftentimes I fail out at a weight, the next week I will try to beat myself by using the same weight but not failing out.
These photos allow me look back at my journey. They are especially helpful on those low motivation days! There are many day to day changes that are easily unnoticed, but they can really be highlighted in a progress picture! I recommend taking them at the same time and day, under the same conditions. If they are weight-loss photos every other month is a good time period; if they are contest prep photos I suggest weekly pictures.
Use with caution!!! This tool, when used appropriately, can be incredibly helpful. During the beginning of contest season, the scale absolutely needs to move. I have real weight to lose, the only way that will be reflected is in a lower body weight. Towards the end of my prep, the number on the scale will tend to hold steady but I will still tighten up a great deal. I place a much higher value on the changes in my progress pictures/physical appearance over a change in the scale.
A good trainer will track your progress, watch your physique and coach you mentally. My trainer will always give me his open, honest opinion. Any physically changing journey can and will be emotional. It is incredibly beneficial to have someone who will be truthful with you in both directions- encouraging you when you don’t see the changes that you’ve made and being straightforward when changes aren’t happening and you need to be held accountable.