Keeping a Training Log, Part II – How?
And we’re back for Part II of this brief series on Training Logs, Workout Journals, or whatever you choose to call them! In Part I we focused on the WHY – if you missed that award-winning write up, you can CHECK IT OUT HERE. But let’s move on for now…
In getting to the HOW to keep a Training Log, I’d like to first mention a couple of concepts I first heard from James Clear (author of Atomic Habits – which is amazingly good, by the way – you should read it).
- However you choose to keep your Training Log, it should be quick and easy. The harder it is to do something, the less you’ll want to do it. Besides, you’re energy should be spent doing the work, not recording it.
- Your Log should be VERSATILE. Can it keep track of personal bests? How about a wide variety of movements or workouts? The most common alternatives to pen and paper are apps, and I’ve tried a lot of them over the years. However, in my opinion, most fall short – as they either don’t offer enough variety of movements, or enough variety of styles of workouts, or both.
So, what IS the best method? Like all things in life, there is no BEST. You have to find what works best for you. I know there are a few member of Five Alarm that do record their workouts via apps – and hopefully they’ll throw something up in the Comments. Now, I’m going to tell you what I’ve found works the best for me.
I alluded to it above, but for me the good old fashioned pen and paper has been my Training Log staple for L-O-N-G time. Below is how I set it up. Refer to the post’s picture to actually see the example.
- My name and the dates covered get written on the front cover (i.e. “Wheeler 2019”). For the last 5+ years, I’ve used one notebook for each year. Usually I have some pages left, but it doesn’t matter. I leave them blank and move on.
- I designate one page either at the very beginning or very end of the workout to record PRs of any kind, whether strength lifts or benchmark MetCons. That makes them much easier to find down the road. Even if I check years’ worth of old notebooks, I only have to check one page in each.
- Whether it’s a standard notebook or my new-found love – graph paper notebooks – I write the date in the left “column” and underline it. I find any type of highlighting is useful – underlining, drawing a square around it, etc. It makes it easy to see where days begin and end.
- I know some people also choose to write their body weight (or body comp) here, if it’s a day they checked it.
- I separate different exercises or workout within the day by letter (the same way we do on the daily WoD board in the gym). So, in the photo example, “A” is the Low Bar Back Squat portion, and “B” is the MetCon. Because I haven’t done a Low Bar Back Squat in F-O-R-E-V-E-R, I also wrote down my Heavy Single in the back of this notebook. Other than that, I felt pretty good today and nothing really stood out, so I didn’t feel the need to make any additional notes.
And that’s really about it. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it takes minimal time. Are there drawbacks? Sure. The Beyond the Whiteboard app can give you a metric ton of data on your own workouts, as well as keep track of PRs, benchmarks, etc., at the drop of a hat. Many companies make pre-printed logs that are much prettier than I’ll ever make a notebook! But like I said above, there is no best method – you have to find what works for you.
So, if you’ve got a preferred method, please sound off in the comments! You may help someone with their choice! Just remember, in the end, it’s not about the HOW, but the WHY!