Last week I discussed the importance of keeping a food log for fat loss. Today, I want to discuss another important tool for any goal you might have in the gym – a training log.
Whenever I go to other gyms (which is very rarely), I am surprised at how few people I see writing stuff down. It is very common, unfortunately, that many people go into the gym not knowing what they did during their last workout – reps, weight, or even the exercises they performed! This baffles me! How do you progress? How do you know if you are getting better?
(Disclaimer: I do want to say that I think on occasion it is okay to go into the gym with nothing planned to just have fun, but this shouldn’t be your norm.)
I believe that training logs are a great tool for whatever goal you have in the gym, and it is a mistake not to keep one. Below I have listed some reasons to keep a training log and what information is good to write down in one.
What you should write down:
-Date and time of workout
-Sets and reps of each exercise
-Amount of weight used on each set
-An indicator of how hard the set was (I like to use a 1-10 scale. 10 meaning you could not have performed another rep. 9 meaning you had one more rep left in the tank…)
-Brief description of energy levels and mood prior to and after the workout. I also like to record the amount of sleep I got the night before.
-Length of workout
-Body weight or measurements if your goal is body composition changes. This does not have to be every time you workout, but it would be good to have an idea of how your body is changing over the program.
– If you want to get fancy, you can buy a HR monitor and track your HR in the morning. This is good way to track recovery. Mornings where your HR is elevated above normal levels you may consider just doing an active recovery/light workout instead of really trying to push yourself.
This may sounds like a lot of information to write down, but it really doesn’t take long, and the results you gain from doing it will pay off.
A training log is important for a number of reasons.
First, writing down your workouts will allow you to track your progress. You can look back at previous workouts and see if your weight on the bar went up, the difficulty of the set went down, your workout took less time (which means more, or the same amount of work, in less time – this is a good thing), etc. There are many ways to progress, and you can keep track of all of these.
Second, it is easy to get frustrated with less and less progress as you become more advanced or achieve a goal you originally set out for. Therefore, it can be uplifting to look back on some of your training logs and see what you were doing when you first set your goal.
I had a client recently who had lost the motivation to train. This person came to the gym initially to lose bodyfat and to get out of pain. She had accomplished this and no longer had a specific goal. One day we decided to get out her old programs for fun to look over them. Once this person saw the exercises and weight she used to move she was amazed at how far she had come. This really sparked her motivation to continue getting better in terms of movement quality, exercise difficulty, strength, etc.
Third, you can start to learn what works for your body. This is an important one. Not all people respond the same to different stimuli. For example, which workouts did you make the most gains on? Which workouts did you have the most fun with and enjoy? Which workouts left you in a better mood with a lot of energy while others may have left you wiped out and drained? What time of day do you have the most productive workouts? These are all important questions that, if answered, can lead to more progress in the gym.
There are multiple reasons to keep track of your workouts and many things you can include. I think the more details you include the better, but the items I listed above are a good starting point.
At IFAST, our clients receive a new program monthly and we take into consideration all of these factors when writing the new program (current goals, stress levels, progress in certain areas, weak points, etc). We also print out the programs and have spaces to write down weights, how difficult a lift was, and comments. Our coaches also keep detailed information on each client he or she works with to guide the program.
Therefore, if you want to take most of the “thinking” out of your training then consider giving us a call at 317.578.0998 or email us at [email protected]. Our coaches will fit a program to your needs and help you reach your goal(s).