A Training Diary is a Vital Tool For Your Fitness Success
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.
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.
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
Your training journal is extremely important and
should be more than just a list of weights, sets
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.