For months when I first started working out, I never kept a training log or fitness journal. I used to just go into the gym with my sessions planned, lift the weights I felt like lifting and called it a day when my workout was complete.
I began to get very frustrated 6-8 months into lifting and started to feel lost. Why? Well firstly, because I wasn’t seeing any progress. I wasn’t challenging myself one bit, I was aimlessly just lifting weights, guesstimating what I had lifted previously, and wasn’t pushing myself enough to grow any decent muscle.
I had no clue where I was in terms of my progress or how I had gotten there. I was pretty much doomed, running around in circles, basically getting nowhere. There were some sessions where I didn’t even feel like I had worked out after because I hadn’t pushed myself.
That’s when I decided I needed structure – accountability – I decided it was time I got an all-important log that I now believe everyone should keep to track their progress.
The log is like a map for yourself which you draw as you go, and whenever you seem to be lost you just have to reach for your it for redirection – It’s that simple.
I swear – I only started to properly track my sessions last September and the progress I’ve made in my lifts, strength, workouts and in my overall muscle composition and appearance has me wishing I’d done so sooner.
But I don’t just log my workouts and lifts – No, I log my mood, my cardio sessions, how sweaty my sessions actually get, my strength throughout that session, my daily struggles, what foods I eat that day (not macro counting) and what I drink – suppose you could say I somewhat log my days.
But that’s what keeps me on track. If I’m having a bad session some morning, I reflect on the why and try pinpoint it from the day before or week previous. Did I eat enough? Did I drink enough water? Did I have a good nights sleep? Even the smallest of things like what your wearing can affect your workouts 😂 believe me, there is nothing worse than wearing loose leggings when trying to lunge. Or a tight vest when training back.
FORMATTING YOUR LOG
Ideally should have 3 parts in my opinion.
- The Excercise Log
- The Nutrition Log
- The Personal Log
THE EXERCISE LOG
Write down the exercises, the weights, and the number of set/reps.
Write down your total time for a certain muscle group, and strive to push as much weight in as little time as possible (which is the formula for intensity!).
Also give yourself a grade, A to F, on how you felt versus how you did.
Don’t forget to make note of cardio work as well – how long you did, heart rate percentage, and amount of calories burned.
THE NUTRITIONAL LOG
If you’re really serious about progressing from the start – it is important that you do keep some form if a log at least until you find the right balance. This will help you gain an understanding and insight into how your body functions, how much food it requires, how much water you need to drink V what you actually drink, portion control etc.
Make note of the time you eat, what you eat, the amount you eat, and the total amount of calories taken in. Make note of everything – lying to yourself won’t help you in the least, and certainly won’t make those 3 chocolates and cookie you had after your lunch go away! Don’t forget to write down fluids, such as juices, milk and protein drinks.
Advanced bodybuilders and lifters might also want to make a few extra columns after ‘calories’, in order to put down the Protein/Carbs/Fat percentage of everything, in order to monitor the exact composition of your diet. (I don’t use this except for when I’m actual dieting.)
THE PERSONAL LOG
Here is where I track my mood, my energy levels, and my weekly/monthly goals in the gym.
I use it as motivation, but also to help me determine how I can improve weekly or daily and what I can do to ensure I get the most out of every session.
Sometimes I’ll write what songs put me in a good mood the day before, or what playlists made me push harder during cardio. As already mentioned, the smallest of things like what I wear can determine my workout, and call me crazy, it it makes all the difference.
SEEING A PERSONAL TRAINER
An added benefit of a log is that when you’re consulting a personal trainer (PT), you’ll have a head start from having a log handy. That way he or she will be able to start you off right from the start – you’ll save both time and money that could be better used for actual progress than initial monitoring!