A workout log is a record of your progress in the gym. They say, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” and not keeping a log of your workouts is the surefire way to fail. Not keeping a workout log is like swimmers and runners practicing without a stopwatch or a professional sports team playing a match without keeping track of the score.
Feel free to go to the gym day in and day out, but don’t expect
significant gains. How can I be so sure about this? Due to the principle of
Progressive Overload, which is the most important cornerstone of training,
which simply means the total
workload on the muscles should increase progressively in every workout.
Bigger muscles are just an adaptation to more stress you put on them. You workout with weights and your muscles see them as a trauma and a disaster. Your body is built to adapt and survive and since your body wants you to survive a disaster like a heavy workout should it happen ever again, it makes your muscles grow bigger and stronger <obviously with the food you eat, so don’t forget to eat either> .
Coming back to progressive overload, once the muscles have grown to a certain level of workout, like 10 reps for 60 kilos on bench press, it won’t just grow any bigger unless you increase the load next time to like 10 reps with 65 kilos or 15 reps with 60 kilos. You need to push harder every workout and create a trauma for your muscles so that the brain sends a growth signals to your muscles and makes them grow.
It doesn’t matter if the progress is big or small, the progress should happen in each and every workout else you just wasted your time.
If you took adequate diet and rest, there is no way you won’t enter the gym stronger next time. If you are unable to beat your old performance next workout, you did it wrong.
Quoting my own experience, I was doing everything after an year of lifting that I tell you here, except making a
workout log. My progress had stalled and every time I entered the gym I felt
lost without having a starting point. It was like running in circles aimlessly.
As humans we all have a limited memory and there is only so much we can
So a workout log will give you a starting point, a mission, a direction everytime you enter through those gym doors.
I did have the workouts saved in my phone and knew what exercises and rep scheme to follow, but I forgot what I had lifted last time and for how many reps. I didn’t really know for how long I had been working with the same amount of weight, I clearly remember I was stuck on 25kg dumbbells for bench press forever. As obvious as it has become by now, I was sticking to the same weight as 3 months ago as I was always unsure of lifting heavier loads and made no progress.
And since the day I started maintaining a workout log, I never looked back in my progress.
I was unsure if I was making any progress at all, I looked back about 3 weeks of
progress or 6 weeks of progress and if I was lifting heavier weight for more
reps, I instantly felt motivated and happy as I was doing the right thing.
If not, it always gave me an idea that something needs to be changed real quick. It will also give you an idea if a certain supplement or a workout plan is working.
workout log also reflects seriousness. Some stupid people might even make
fun of you or give you strange looks when they see you maintain a workout log.
Wear your headphones with some good music and disregard those poor souls.
People might walk up to you and ask questions, typically two:
Q. What are you doing?
A. Maintaining Progress.
Q. Can I have a look?
A. Sure, but it won’t be helpful to you.
(Hand them over the log and go back to your set, else just put back earphones and get back to work)
Another important reason to maintain a workout log: A workout log is to a personal trainer as medical history/previous prescription letters are to a medical practitioner. You will be able to approach a personal trainer and seek his guidance better if you showed him what you had been doing all along so he can spot the problem and suggest a better solution and much more easily.
So that’s all about the benefits of maintaining a workout log. Now how do you maintain a workout log? Basically, a workout log should contain the following things:
· Muscles worked
· Loads/Weights used
· Target Reps
· Number of reps performed
· Rest Intervals Allowed
· Energy Level/Motivation level at start of workout
· Any injuries, or events which reduced performance
Pimp your workout log with some motivational quotes and/or photo of a bodybuilder who inspires you if that makes you happy and motivated J
Most spiral pads have multicolored mini books, usually five. Use the last one to keep measurements periodically: weekly, fortnightly, monthly whatever. The measurements should be for:
· Forearms and calves
Following is a sample of my own workout log. Since most mobile phones these days are touch screens, I don’t find them very comfortable to maintain workout logs, especially when I am dripping with sweat which activates thermal touch screen. So I use a 10 rupees spiral notepad available at all stationary stores.