A Vital Tool For Your Fitness Success

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

and rep.

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

step forward.

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.