Some people like this still can make huge improvements, and that's great. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. I have always noticed that I always progress the most when I place 100% effort into all areas of bodybuilding, not just the training and nutrition, but also constant goal setting and analysis of my current performance. I have found by doing this I keep myself on track and if I hit any setbacks I can immediately make the required changes to overcome these pitfalls and start gaining again.
Since I'm a huge fan of Dorian Yates I have followed his example of keeping a detailed journal of my training, diet and mental state on a daily basis ever since I began bodybuilding. Recently, I've taken this to the next level, which I have found very valuable with my current pursuit of gaining more muscle size in order to compete next year.
I have devised myself a weekly 'Q & A' analysis sheets to review my weeks progress and monitor if I am on target with my goals. I work through this sheet every Sunday, reviewing the previous week.
I find it not only beneficial in making the correct changes and/or improvements to keep myself moving forward it is always very motivating when you see yourself progressing towards your goals and that you are in control of your bodybuilding journey.
What I find great about doing this weekly analysis is that most of the time you know the answers to your training or diet problems, its just simply a case of admitting to any shortcomings and then taking the correct steps to prevent the reoccurrence of prior mistakes. I split the analysis into the following sections:
- Diet & Nutrition
- My Weekly Objectives
The Q & A's I work through are as follows:
Q. Did I follow a great bodybuilding diet all week, except for my planned cheat meals?
A. If yes, Great! Keep going with that standard of nutrition habits. If not, then this is a major reason for concern and a potential cause for not achieving the best out of my training. Plan how I am going to overcome this in order to make next week great.
Q. Did I gain any quality muscle and/ or fat this week?
A. If I'm getting progressively better then keep on track as planned, without slacking off. If I gained any fat or feel bloated all the time, analyze the reasons why and make the required changes in my diet to correct this. If I am getting bigger do I need to increase my calories and protein in order to sustain the new muscle and allow myself the material to build more? The answer to this will more than likely be yes, so make the appropriate changes.
Q. Did I eat at least 300 grams of Protein every day?
A. If no, then this is holding back my progress and I need to analyze the reason for not achieving this weekly diet goal. E.g. lack of planning, not preparing quality food in advanced and missing protein drinks, so that I can avoid these reasons in future. If I am getting all my protein supply in then fantastic, I'm doing what is needed to create the correct growth environment.
Q. Am I lifting the weights I have set myself goals for?
A. If not, find out why. Is it because of a lack of self-belief that I can actually lift those heavier weights? mentally defeating myself. Or is it due to not focusing 100% before each workout and every set mentally preparing myself for achieving new heights in my training? If I have hit a plateau with an exercise or training routine analyze why. Is it due to my diet and recovery?
Am I giving myself the correct nutrients and rest in order to improve? If these are all going well, then it means that I need to make some changes to my routine. By firstly taking a week off to allow my body to be totally refreshed, then with a new routine and new set training goals, creating muscle confusion to break the plateau and start gaining again.
Q. Is my training resulting in new muscle gains?
A. This is linked with the above question. If yes, then great! If not is it due to overtraining? not following my nutrition and recovery plans? Am I eating enough calories?
Q. Am I training consistently and enjoying every session?
A. Consistency is the key to achieving success with my goals. I need to make sure that I am following my training and diet plans perfectly. This will allow me to progress at the best rate possible. If I'm not being consistent or enjoying my training, find out why. Is it because I'm overtrained or stale? Am I letting outside forces affect my training? (work, personal etc.)
Do whatever it takes to get back onto a consistent training schedule, if it means taking a short break, changing my routine or training at a new gym then do it. Half consistency is just as bad. Just pretending to myself that I'm trying to make serious gains, when I'm going out till late and eating pizza and other junk food, then I'm only lying to myself. Honestly analyze this properly as the sooner I get back on track with my bodybuilding goals the better.
Q. Am I staying in my 'comfort zone' with continuously doing my favorite exercise, or am I making an effort to keep my body guessing by regularly changing my selection of training exercises, routines and training techniques?
A. I need to remember that the body has a natural ability to adapt to the stress given through certain exercises and set routines. Due to this I need to cycle my training frequently, not allowing my body to get in a 'comfort zone' and keep improving instead.
If I'm not doing this, then set plans for a new different training cycle that will give my body the diversity it needs. If I am doing this, then analyze how well my body is responding to the current training cycle and exercise selection. This will give me a detailed log of what works best for my body.
I set myself weekly objectives. These are broken down chunks of my overall long term goals. I find this practice very useful in making long term goals feel more achievable.
Q. Did I successful complete my weekly objectives?
A. If yes, well done, and start setting the following weeks goals. If no, why? Am I procrastinating? Being lazy or just stuck in my comfort zone? Whatever the reason be honest and plan what I can do in order to avoid this happening again in the future. Become more organized, efficient and achieve all the objectives I set for the following week.
Q. Were my weekly objectives beneficial in moving me towards achieving my long term goals?
A. If yes, then everything is going to plan. If not, this could be why I'm not getting closer to making my long term goals a reality. Make sure that my future objectives are in-line with my overall plans and then every week I will be taking a step closer to them.
The above Q & A's are ones I set myself targeting areas which I feel I need to address in order to keep on track. You might find that other questions that I haven't listed are more applicable to you. That's fine as everyone is different and you need to find out what works for you.
At first this type of weekly analysis might seem daunting as it does involve some time organization in order to successful answer these questions. However, you'll be glad to know that it is time well invested and once you see how much more efficient and productive you become it will become a useful tool in achieving your bodybuilding goals.
All the best,