Here is a piece from JohnBrian on the importance of keeping a training journal…
Why should I keep one?
When somebody is starting out on achieving their fitness goals they often set goals that will take months (or years) to achieve from their starting point such as getting a ‘6 pack’ – or below 10% body fat, running a 5k in under 20 minutes or hitting performance goals such as 2x bodyweight squats, all of which can take a lot of work and consistency to achieve and are not achievable without a solid body of training behind you.
A training journal can put a larger perspective on your fitness journey when it feels like it’s faltering or failing, if your week to week performance is declining you can still look back on you performances from months back and realise you have actually come a long way, even if your recent performances have not continued that linear progression.
Realistically, once you come out of your ‘novice’ phase of progression and move into early intermediate levels of performance the progressions will not be as linear and you will need to manage your load based on different factors such as sleep, injuries, work, other sports (if you play any) and any other variables that may affect your physical week being in order to actually avoid regression. More training does not always equate to making progress but smarter, consistent training with managed workloads will achieve progress at a sustainable rate.
What should I put in it?
A training journal does not only have to take note of your physical sessions. It can take note of nutrition, sleep, energy levels, mood and other variables that you want to take note of. It can help you to note when your performance dips, is it because your mood isn’t great or your energy levels are low because of poor nutrition. A training journal can help identify patterns in your training when applied consistently.
Nutrition is an especially pertinent factor in many peoples goals when they join a gym. One of the main goals of almost everyone is to look better. This is not viable without appropriate nutrition and understanding that beginning to train is NOT a license to eat whatever you want, if anything it is a reason to monitor what you eat even more closely as you do not want all that effort you are making in the gym to bear no fruit because of a lack of structure in your nutrition. Even something as basic as a simple calorie goal to stay under if you want to lose weight, or over if you want to gain weight while using a food tracking app can provide a great understanding and awareness of your own dietary habits. Then adding in hydration – bringing a 2 litre bottle of water to work – or protein intake – having a source of protein with every meal – can provide benefits to your physique and physical performance.
Setting objectives can be done and recorded in your training journal giving them a permanence and making you accountable to yourself in your quest to achieve them. Just make them reasonable, if in doubt you can always ask your coach to help you set achievable goals!
Even use it to note motivational quotes or to jot down motivating factors to help you remember why you are putting yourself through the pain on the ergs…
How to use it?
Write down what your session was, the loads used so it could look like
A. Squat 3 x 5 – 80, 80, 80
B. Chins 3 x 5 – 5, 5, 3
C. 500m row – 1.32
When you come to the next session and the coach says add on 2.5% to your last squat, you know exactly what that is (2kgs). Since you filed your last set of chins the previous week then maybe doing 5 sets of 3 will be more productive and you should aim to beat your previous 500 m row time (always!)
Keep a page at the back for PR’s and for Objectives and pronto you have a training journal – doesn’t have to be anything fancy!
What are the benefits?
Buy a notebook and bring it with you next time you come into the gym!