This weekend I was rummaging around a bit in the spare closet doing some organizing and in one of the boxes I went through I found my old training log books. Of course, I stopped being productive with the organizing and had to sit down and scan through the books. I probably spent about half an hour scrolling through a handful of old, chewed up notebooks covered with sweat stains and even a little blood.
It was fun looking at these old workouts, remembering what was going on, that type of stuff. It also got me thinking a little bit. I realized that I would consider my log books to be my most valuable training tool. I think that they’re more important than any band, chain, barbell, or weight machine that I might have at my disposal.
You’re probably thinking “Holy crap! What’s this log book thing all about?”.
Well, whether you call it a log book, or a workout journal, record book, or something else what I’m speaking of is a place where someone can record their workouts and make entries describing how things are going. I personally use little spiral-bound notebooks so that I can take them to the gym easily, but that’s not the only way to do it. I’ve had my clients use 3-ring binders, big notebooks, clipboards and paper (which they usually put into binders), and computer storage.
There are a few reasons why these journals are important:
-They allow you to see the progress that you’ve made. You’re in the gym every day, busting your ass, and guess what? The body doesn’t change very fast. It’s not like you can see your bicep growing with every curl or your waist shrinking with every burpee! But let’s take a look through your log book for a second… WOW! You’ve dropped 4″ from your waist in the past month and a half. Now that’s badass!
-The logbook points out when you’re NOT making progress. Sure, you can fool yourself in the gym by thinking that you’re getting better. When you’ve got a good sweat going or a pump on, then you must be improving, right? I don’t know, let’s consult the book… Nope! You’ve been stuck at 185 on the bench press for two months and you’ve picked up an extra half an inch on your waist. The logbook is pointing out to you that what you’re doing right now isn’t working and it’s time for a change.
-The logbook teaches you about how you and your body responds to training. If you’re like most people who’ve spent any time in a gym then you’ve tried several programs, diet plans, and sample workouts out. Some of them probably worked for you, while some didn’t. They might be very good programs, but something wasn’t making them work ideally for you. When you’re trying to refine what you’re doing, take a quick memory lane stroll through the log book and see what was really going like gangbusters for you. Let’s try that again and see if it works again!
For example, I’ve noticed that when I perform direct tricep work then my bench press increases (this is important to a powerlifter). Now, all of my training tells me that I should be getting all of the tricep work I need from the rest of my workout and to train them directly is either pointless or overtraining. However, every time I add that into the program, the bench press gets stronger. So, the logbook trumps my “book learnin’” when it comes to training ME.
Tomorrow we’re going to go over the specifics of designing your log book. Until then, think about what you feel that you really need to track in your own training. I’ll see you then!