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Keeping a journal

Keeping a journal
To monitor your progress, keeping a journal can help greatly. In fact it’s almost impossible to keep track of your workouts without one. Other records can also be helpful to monitor various aspects of your progress and health.

Training journal

For me keeping a record of my training is very much a key strategy to staying on track with my workouts. Working out with random exercises and/or no idea what you lifted last time you worked out does very little to help you make progress.

A journal can help keep track and monitor your goals, exercises done, weights used, reps and sets done, your workout duration, distance covered during a cardio session, what time of the day you trained, your pulse rate, what you ate before or after and much more. You can also use it to make additional notes on your training, like how you physically felt or if a specific exercise felt good or bad for you during your workout. One caveat though is only record what you need to record, don’t get too carried away and end up with too much detail, otherwise it can get too much to maintain and become a chore or you end up over analysing everything or worse stop doing it all together.

My training journal also tells me what days I’m working out or resting for a particular routine. It’s a great goal setter, as I use it to plan my next workout, knowing how much weight I lifted and for how many reps/sets in my last workout. I can then either increase the weight or up the rep count for a given exercise, always looking to improve upon what I did last time and keep me going in a forward direction.

Personally I use a spreadsheet, which allows me to print it out if working out away from the computer. Of course you can also just use a notebook/tablet or simply write it down on paper.

It also allows me to see the progress I have made over a period of time. This is great for motivation and I have no doubt one of the main factors for making progress in my training and physical abilities and gains in muscle and fat loss. I also use it to plan future workout routines, as I can get an idea what combination of exercises felt best and what didn’t.

Another use for a journal is to see if you are hitting a plateau and unable to move forward, a good sign that you are either over training or not recovering from your workouts. If this happens then you know it’s time for to you either re-evaluate your workout and/or nutrition plan. However be careful not to over analyse yourself and don’t spend too much time on your journal, it’s just a record and next step primer.

Pulse and blood pressure records

Another record I like to keep on a regular basis is my pulse rate throughout the day. Each day I take my pulse rate around 3 times. Once in the morning, afternoon and then in the evening. I tend to use just my wrist and watch, but you can also use one of those heart rate monitors. Another record I like to keep is my blood pressure. I take this once in the morning and once in the evening twice a week. It’s a great way to monitor your overall health.

Weight and measurement records

Finally and not least, I keep a record of my weight and body composition. The only measurement I physically take is my waist line. I then use a body analyzer scale to check my weight, body fat, water content, BMI, body mass and BMR. It’s important to point out, that these scales should be used just as a rough measure and to track progress and not to be relied upon for accurate diagnosis of any of the measurements given. Trying to lose fat and gain muscle will mean that weighing yourself isn’t a good measure for progress, as muscle weighs more than fat anyway.