The Importance of a Training Journal
Keeping a record of what you do and how you do it is vital to bodybuilding success. I think keeping a journal is one of the best things I've done to help myself consistently improve. If you keep track of what you've done in the past, it will be easier for you to see what works for you. You can then repeat these actions to insure your future success.
"The palest of ink is better than the best memory."
I've never understood why people want to come to the gym time after time, repeating exactly what they've done before. That is not progress, my friend.
In order to improve and make gains, your training must be progressive in some manner. You can make progress 3 different ways:
- Do more weight than the previous session
- Do more reps with the same weight
- Do more work within a set time frame
If you don't remember exactly what you did in your previous training sessions, how do you expect to exceed it?
I'll be willing to bet if you just finally discipline yourself to start keeping a training journal, you'll increase your gains within 30 days or less.
You've known for years you should be keeping a training journal and you've told yourself you're gonna do it...but you still haven't done it!
Just do it, OK?!!!
Tips on How To Keep a Good Journal
- Write down the time of day you worked out.
- Write down how much weight you used in your exercises and the number of reps.
- Write down how the movements felt, i.e. "50s are too light."
- Write down how you looked and what was going on in your mind.
- Write down what you wore or what music you listened to.
- Write down what you ate and when you ate it.
- Write down how you looked when you woke up, went to sleep, etc.
- Write down how much cardio you did.
- Write down how much you weigh.
- Write down the other aspects of your life i.e., if you had a good day, a bad day, it was raining, you had a
fight with your girlfriend. This will help you attribute outside factors into your performance in the gym.
Let's suppose you had a bad workout on February 1st and you can't figure out why since your diet and supplementation were the same as your last training session. If you see an entry in your journal that you got a bad grade on a test that morning, you might find the reason your training sucked that day was that your head wasn't into it. This would stop you from radically changing your training, diet or supplementation based on bad information.
A training and dietary journal will be your best friend when assessing progress.
Training, Dieting and Supplementing Correctly For your Goals
Build Muscle and Lose Fat
If your main goal is losing of fat while putting on muscle, try the following.
Strength training should be done to get a better muscle to fat ratio and therefore improve metabolism. Use moderate weights at a fast training pace (very little rest between sets and exercises).
You should lower your calorie intake (but not try to starve yourself) and should eat frequent but small high protein meals. Sugars, sweets and junk food should be eliminated from your diet.
Engage daily in some activity like brisk walking, biking, etc., and try to increase the amount of time you spend each week.
Suggested supplements: Low carb/sugar protein powder and fat burners like MuscleTech Hydroxycut Hardcore Elite, possibly a test boosting supp like Pharmafreak Test Freak.
Gain Muscle While Staying Lean
If you already have a naturally fit body and are looking to gain some lean muscle mass, try the following.
- Strength training can be done more often and for longer sessions, but you must still be careful not to overdo it.
- You should train with moderate to heavy weighs and at a moderate pace, not resting too long between sets. You will find you gain muscle quite easy (some women and even men might not want to get too bulky, but this won't happen suddenly. When you are happy with your muscle sizes simply train to maintain it).
- Stick to a good healthy diet to keep you lean and muscular, and watch for any slow creeping fat gains.
- Engage in and enjoy aerobic activities, sports, etc. but do not overdo.
Gain Weight and Size
If you are too thin and need to gain weight, you should try the following:
- Weight training should be done but not too often or for too long each session. Weight should be fairly heavy and workout pace slower (longer rest periods between sets).
- Diet should be high in calories (good quality food not junk) and you should eat more then you're used to and often.
- Aerobic and other activities (sports, dancing, etc.) should be kept to a minimum, at least until you are happy with your weight and looks.
Download printable training log pages here