Your time is precious, and few things are worse than putting time into working out consistently without seeing the results you want. So you’re going have to have a plan: When you fail to plan you’re planning to fail.
One of the best methods to avoid wasted efforts at the gym is to keep a journal. No, not a diary; a journal. Although it may be a bit of a drag to lug a pad and pen around you when you work out, the results you will achieve by aggregating your workout performance will be more than worth it.
1. A JOURNAL KEEPS YOU HONEST
We’ve all been there; at the end of a hard workout, you’re on your last set and you’ve got just 10 reps to go. “I’m pretty much done” you say, “I can skip these last two reps”.
A journal keeps you honest to your planned routine and reinforces the guilt from skipping any elements of your workout. It will also help you train even harder in some cases, because surpassing your goal feels really, really good.
2. A JOURNAL KEEPS YOU FOCUSED
A lot of people walk into the gym and waste a few minutes here and there thinking about their workout for that day. The mind can easily wander and lose focus, and those minutes add up to either a wasted workout or spending longer than you need to at the gym.
A journal with specific goals gives you a clear idea of what you need to get done and in how much time. It will also help you stop at the end of your routine so that you don’t overdo it with confidence-fueled sets.
3. DATA DOESN’T LIE
Data analytics, a hot topic right now in sport and fitness lets you look back on your performance and identify your strengths and weaknesses (e.g. days of the week, specific exercises, or lapses in your nutrition). Identifying patterns in what you have recorded will help you adjust or change your routine. It allows you to be agile and respond to your performance and the results you’re actually getting.
4. YOUR EGO WILL THANK YOU
Nothing beats looking back on a month’s hard work and thinking, “yeah, I have been working my butt off”. A well-kept journal can be almost as gratifying as comparing your before and after pics, it can provide that motivation sooner, too.
WHAT TO WRITE IN YOUR JOURNAL
You might be wondering where to start and what to track. Typically, the best performance indications for tracking your fitness are:
- Warm-up technique (including stretching)
- Daily exercise sets and reps goals and results
- Total time spent at the gym, included rest time between sets
- Pre- and post-recovery meals consumed
- Energy level before, during and after your workout
- Total hours of sleep
- Time of day that you worked out
- Type of music listened to (you would be surprised how that can affect your results!)