You’ve seen them at your local gym, you know, those people. The guy writing furtively between sets in small notebooks. Or the gal going to her smartphone quickly between exercises in order to quickly tap away in an app. And perhaps you thought the idea silly: why do I need to write out what I am doing? I already know!
But you’d be surprised how much impact tracking your workouts and nutrition can have on your results. Here are just 6 ways that journaling your efforts can pay big-time dividends:
1. Keeps you from getting side-tracked
Having your training plan in front of you helps to ward off the inevitable distractions that pop up at the gym. You see a couple friends and stop to chat for a few minutes. You stop to watch some sports highlights on the televisions in the cardio room. The training journal acts a blueprint and a checklist for your session at the gym, meaning less time gossiping by the water fountain and more time crushing your sets.
2. It’s a source of priceless intel
After a few weeks of keeping a workout and nutrition journal some patterns and habits will quickly begin to emerge. You’ll see how much better your workouts are after a solid night of sleep. How well your cardio session goes when your nutrition is on point. This is critical, first-hand knowledge coming from your own experience. No guesswork and no relying on advice from others, which will better inform your efforts moving forward.
3. Keeps you fired up
The most touted point on keeping a workout log is that it will help keep you motivated. It’s hard to overstate how true this is. Writing out your workouts can help you sustain the flurry of motivation that comes when we make the big decision to really lock things down in the gym and in the kitchen. When you are having a bad day, and the last thing you want to do is hit the gym the thought of leaving that empty page in your logbook can be just the push you need to get you through the doors.
4. Supercharged confidence
Confidence, the real, deep, foundational kind, comes from experience and achievement. It’s rooted in the things we have done. Your workout logbook, once you’ve kept it going for a little while, provides you a library of moments where you have succeeded and overcome. It shows you, as plain as day, how capable you actually are, which can help on those days where you aren’t feeling so hot on your abilities.
5. Helps you create better expectations
Out-of-this-world expectations can be really troublesome for lifters. We expect—quite mistakenly—that after two weeks of intense effort we should have a six-pack. Or that we can drop 25 pounds in one week simply because we feel like we can will it to happen. Sure, these might be extreme examples, but at some point or another you have fallen victim to overblown expectations.
A logbook can help temper these, and also help you to avoid the crushing discouragement that comes from falling spectacularly short of our expectations, by showing you, on paper no less, how long it takes for you to progress. Your personal training history shows you the jagged line of improvement to where you are now, helping to establish realistic expectations and goals for your workouts.
6. Schedule your training
Having a plan for the week rocks. Why? Because it helps you avoid the “I’ll do what I feel like” workouts where little ends up being accomplished. It also provides a birds-eye-view of your training, allowing you to plan for recovery sessions and off days, as well as the days where you are going to really challenge yourself. In other words, it provides a tactical plan for you and your training.
Writing out your workouts and nutrition might seem like just another thing you don’t want to have to do, but the tool can have very real implications for your overall health if you decide to make use of it. It will help you stay on track, be more consistent, and ultimately and most importantly, help you crush your workout goals.
About the Author: Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level athlete turned publisher of YourWorkoutBook, a training journal for people serious about kicking butt at the gym. You can also sign up for his weekly motivational newsletter by clicking here. He’s also kind of tall.