Believe it or not, but I believe that a training journal is paramount to anyone who wants to be successful in the gym. How is that possible? Well, let me ask you this. Can you recall what you had for lunch everyday last week? Better yet, can you recall what you had for breakfast yesterday? Many of us can't recall even the latter so what makes you think that you have superhuman intelligence and can recall every rep, set, and exercise you did on a particular day? You CANNOT! If you can, both you and I can agree that your brain power is better spent doing something more productive. Code breaking for the NSA, perhaps?
When I first started weight training as a part of my rehabilitation program for soccer, I had to do the same thing for my legs every day. Even with this stagnant routine, I sometimes lost count of the number of sets I had done. However, I never lost count of the reps and poundages because they never changed. This was only due to the fact that I was in rehab, nothing more and nothing less. As I became more drawn to weight training, I started to read more and more muscle magazines. Whenever I would read articles on Ways to Improve in the Gym, I always came across the notion that one should keep a training journal. I thought this to be absurd because I once believed that there is no way a simple little notebook would help me make improvements. So I kept on going to the gym and doing what I had been doing. I noticed a rather large individual by the name of Erik Berger who would always walk around the gym doing countless reps on different exercises while writing down everything he wrote. I asked him why he did such a thing? His answer was a simple and obvious one. "I write everything down so I can keep track of my progress and improve upon myself."
To me, that was inspirational. Here was this guy who had a physique worthy of any Muscle & Fitness magazine and he was dispensing advice on to me in an indirect manner. I was sold. I went out to Wal-Mart that very night with my roommate and bought my first training journal. I actually still have it to this very day. I find nostalgia in looking back on all of those journals just to see how much you have progressed over the years. It's actually quite amazing to see your changes even though you yourself feel there are no changes being brought about. To this very day, I still use a training journal. I never set foot in the gym without it. I'm sure you've seen that one guy or gal in your gym who does a set, then writes down what he/she just did and then rests and repeats the cycle. If you're ever in the same gym as David or me, you can bet your ass that we'll be writing in our training journals.
To think how something this simple goes unnoticed is once again beyond my comprehension. I think it comes from the mentality that it has to be too good to be true because keeping a training journal is no hassle at all. I mean, all you have to do is walk around the gym with a small notebook which weights about 3 oz. in your hand and put it on the floor when you're not lifting. How hard is that? I've actually been asked various questions concerning my training journal. Get a load of the two which stand out most in my mind because they happened recently:
1. Why do you write in that little book? (This is a plausible question.) A: So I can keep track of my progress.
2. Can I see that book? (This guy was probably thinking that there was some magical routine hidden in it.)
A: Sure, but it's not going to help you any.
Now if you're serious about results and I know we all are because Spring Break is around the corner, you better grab you a small notebook and turn it into your daily training journal. It's the cheapest and most effective way to improve upon yourself. Just buy one for 0.89 cents, take it to the gym, train, write it all down, rest, and repeat. Oh yeah...I almost forgot. You better bring the intensity too!