A Training Diary Is A Vital Tool For Your Fitness Success!

An essential part of the organization needed to get each workout day right is a training diary. Learn here why they are so important and what they should contain so you keep making gains!

I know you've heard this before and it seems "basic," but it is an important key to success. And apparently, it isn't heard enough because I'd say less than 1% of the people I see in the gym keep track of their workout.

An essential part of the organization needed to get each workout day right is a training diary. At its most basic minimum this is a written record of reps and poundage for every work set you do and an evaluation of each workout so that you can stay alert to warning signs of overtraining.

After each workout reflect on your evaluation and, when necessary, make adjustments to avoid falling foul of overtraining.

The Training Journal

A training diary or journal is indispensable for keeping you on track for training success. No matter where you are now - 180-pound squat or 500, 13-inch arms or 17, 135-pound bench press or 350 - the systematic organization and focus on achieving goals that a training journal enforces will help you to get bigger, stronger, and leaner.


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As simple as it is to use a training log, do not underestimate its vital role in helping you achieve your fitness goals. Most trainees are aware that they should record their workouts in a permanent way, but few actually do it.

And even those trainees who keep some sort of training log usually fail to exploit its full potential benefits. This is one of the major reasons why most trainees get minimal results from their training.

Your training journal is extremely important and should be more than just a list of weights, sets and rep.

When used properly, a training journal enforces the organization needed to get each work-out right, week after week, month after month and year after year. By recording your poundages and reps, you log your entire training program and the week-by-week breakdown of how you work through the routine(s) in each training cycle in the journal.

A training log eliminates reliance upon memory. There will be no, "Did I squat eight reps with 330 pounds at my last squat workout, or was it seven?" Refer to your journal and you will see precisely what you did last time-i.e., what you need to improve on if you are to make your next workout a step forward.

With a well-kept and detailed journal, you'll know with absolute certainty what is working in your program and what doesn't. Are you stagnating? Not making the progress you want? Go back and consult your journal at a time that you were making fantastic progress? What were you doing then that you are not doing now?

You must be 100 percent honest when entering data. Record the quality of your reps. If you did five good ones but the sixth needed a tad of help from a training partner, do not record all six as if they were done under your own steam. Record the ones you did alone, but note the assisted rep as only a half rep.

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It is not enough just to train hard. You need to train hard with a target to beat on every work set you do. The targets to beat in any given workout are your achievements the previous time you performed that same routine.

If you train hard but with no rigorous concern over reps and poundages, you cannot be sure you are training progressively. And training progressively is the key to making progress. But for accurate records of sets, reps and poundages to have meaning, your training conditions must be consistent.

Click Image To Enlarge.
Training Conditions Must Remain Consistent.

If at one workout you rush between sets, then at the next workout you take your time, you cannot fairly compare those two sessions.

If one week the deadlift is your first exercise and the following week you deadlift at the end of the workout, you cannot fairly compare those two workouts. And the form you use for each exercise must be consistent and flawless every time you train.

Likewise, if you do 3 sets of the bench press and one workout you take 1 minute between sets and the next workout you take 3 minutes between sets, you can't be sure that you've progressed from one workout to the next.

Get all the details of your training in black and white, refer to them when appropriate and get in control of your training. In addition to control over the short term, this permanent record will give you a wealth of data to analyze and draw on when designing your future training programs.

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You are probably wondering if you want to be bothered with the hassle of keeping a journal, recording every exercise, meal, thought and feeling in a book. You'd be surprised how much one can really help!
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Keeping Records

Keep accurate records of each workout, each day's caloric and protein intake, how much sleep you get, muscular girths and your body composition. Then you will remove all guesswork and disorder from your training program.

But all of this is just a bunch of words. You have to make the theory and rationale come alive with your conscientious and methodical practical application. Do exactly that now, and take charge of your training!

Most trainees have neither the organization needed for success nor the will and desire to push themselves very hard when they need to. But these are the very demanding essentials for a successful fitness program.

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Workout Journals.

Post your workout journal and progress in this section, feel free to update as often as you would like. You can also monitor other members as they share their experiences with the board.
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Find out how you did in trying to make today another step toward achieving your next set of short-term goals. Have all of today's actions- training (if a training day), diet and rest-met or exceeded the goals for the day? If not, why not?

A daily critical analysis of what you did and did not do to take another step forward will help you to be more alert to improving tomorrow.

Take a few minutes each day to review your journal.

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Review Your Journal Every Day.

Take as much control over your life as you can. Learn from your mistakes. Capitalize on the good things you have done. Do more of the positive things you are already doing and fewer of the negative things.

Do You Keep A Training Journal?


    Gregg Gillies is the author of From Fat to Fit... Fast!