Why Use A Workout Journal?

I have worked out, off and on, for years now and never really gone anywhere with it.  I have also fallen aimlessly in and out of diets.  I also haven't, until lately, set myself goals.  As a result I haven't really achieved anything.  Sure I've got some muscle memory for particular exercises and I have some knowledge about fitness basics.  But a sense of achievement?  No.  Something to crow about or feel proud of?  No.

Now, I think I know why.  Obviously I needed to set myself clear and attainable fitness goals.  I should have an objective in mind.  Keep in mind that I say that with the certainty of someone who hasn't achieved anything just yet.  But I feel I am on the right track.  My goals right now are pretty clear - see here.

But goals aren't necessarily enough.  What happens if I get injured or if the path to the challenge is a particularly long one.  Aiming for a long term goal means there are going to be ups and downs in not only training intensity but health.  There are going to be hurdles before I get anywhere near achieving what I want to achieve.

If I am serious about achieving my goal, whether it be strength, fitness, diet or challenge related I need to do some micromanaging.  Some risk management if you want to call it that.  What if I were making a critical mistake without realising it, time and time again?  I mean, if you could avoid sickness or injury you would wouldn't you.

It all boils down to time really.  Do you want to take 5 years to achieve your goal or one year.  Do you prefer a steady incline toward your objective or a energy sapping mixture of rapid descents and steep Alp like ascents?

I'll take the former thanks.

So how can I do this?  Well it appears a simple training journal can help me on the way.  The benefits of a training journal are clear.  Firstly a journal can provide clear records of -

  • Exercises used
  • Physical achievements
  • Your mood, diet and energy levels

You can analyse this information to your benefit.  Perhaps a particular exercise is repeatedly leading you toward injury or a particular food toward illness.  The benefit is that when you look back over your workout history certain trends will make themselves obvious.  You will see what conditions lead to your personal bests and conversely what lead you to take that week off from training.

I've started recording my daily workouts in a spreadsheet but any means will do.  Some people use paper, others email themselves a daily record.  Some use a blogs and others a database.  Whatever it takes will do.

Of course the next step of journal keeping is making it a habit and this is something I don't have experience with yet.  Check out these articles for some ideas regarding workout journals.

  1. T-Nation 
  2. CrossfitWorks 
  3. Zen Habits 
  4. Coach Stevo 
  5. Strong Lifts