While good gym shoes will help you perform better and a pair of lifting gloves will protect your hands, there is actually nothing more important than a training journal.
Every time you go to the gym or exercise at home you should have a goal in mind of beating a previous performance. Most people fail to write down their reps and weights and they will never know what numbers they are trying to beat. Tracking your progress also let’s you know what you are getting better at.
You see… we humans love to see progress. If we don’t see the progress in the mirror we can see it on paper. Seeing progress is important, it let’s us know we are on the right track.
Just because a visual inspection of ourselves doesn’t give us the progress we want, we can see progress if we are tracking workouts in a journal.
Remember the “7 Step Success Formula” we wrote about the other day? We workout and may not see physical changes in the mirror or on the scale for days and weeks… and then… WHOOOSH. Success.
Success is only possible if you are constantly getting better.
The most important principle in weight training and exercise is also the oldest and most basic: overload. The principle of progressive overload states that if you want to get stronger, more flexible, more agile then you need to push yourself with heavier weights and increased stimulus each time you train. Write down every rep and exercise and then looking back and trying to beat those numbers your next workout.
I suggest also writing the time of day you workout, how you feel, and if you have any injuries you are working around.
Another good reason to keep a training journal is it shows you what worked and what didn’t. Every person is different and their bodies react differently to training. Whenever you begin a new training system or a new exercise you should track your strength gains, weight loss or gain, and flexibility increases closely. When you do this, you can look back in the future and find out what worked for you best and what you enjoyed.
I still have my journals from my college football workouts. It’s fun looking back and seeing what I’ve done and how I’ve progressed.
Journals can be extremely motivating as well when progress is slow. Looking back a year or two will reveal just how far you have come. If you can look back in your journal two years ago and see that you could only do 10 pushups, but today can do 50… that’s motivating and will get you back on track.
Every workout is you versus your last performance. Do all that you can to beat yourself, then write it down in your journal. An exercise journal is critical to your success as it gives you concrete data.
Christian Henning, NASM-CPT, gfs, CTT
Certified Turbulence Trainer