Tracking Your Weight Training Progress
You may find that recording your workout details increases your motivation and helps you keep up with your workout program. Try logging your workouts in a notebook or weight training diary to see if this method works for you.
Recording information in your log
Some people benefit so much from recording their weight routines (and cardiovascular workouts) that they jot down information daily. Other people find the paperwork annoying and prefer to keep a log for, say, one week every couple of months as a reality check. No matter how often you use your log, jotting down many or all the following details is a good idea:
Your goals: At the start of each week, jot down specific workout goals such as, Push extra hard on back and biceps, or complete eight push-ups.
The name of each exercise: Don’t just write chest; write incline chest fly or vertical chest press. This way, you know whether you’re getting enough variety. Plus, you’re forced to know the name of each exercise.
Sets, reps, and weight: Note how many repetitions you performed and how much weight you lifted for each set. Suppose that you did three sets of leg curls — first 12 reps with 30 pounds, and then 10 reps with 40 pounds, and then 7 reps with 50 pounds. You can note this by writing 3 in the set column, 12, 10, 7 in the reps column, and 30, 40, 50 in the weight column.
How you’re feeling: Just jot down a few words about whether you felt energetic, tired, motivated, and so on. Did you take it easy, or did you act as if you were in Basic Training?
Your cardio routine: Record how much cardiovascular exercise you did — whether it was a half an hour walking on the treadmill at 4 miles per hour or 15 minutes on the stairclimber at level 6. Also, note whether you did your cardio workout before or after you lifted weights.
Your flexibility routine: Record the amount of stretching time and how your stretches felt. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can record the names of the stretches or come up with names for your standard stretching routines.
Analyzing your workout log
Your workout log gives you positive reinforcement no matter how often you choose to record your information. Watching your progress over time also gives you a big boost. If two months ago you could barely eke out 10 repetitions with 30 pounds on the leg extension machine and now you can easily perform 10 reps with 50 pounds, you know you’ve accomplished something.
Not only does a diary keep you motivated, but also recording your workouts helps achieve better results. If you’re dedicating plenty of time to your weight training but aren’t getting stronger or more toned, your workout diary may offer clues as to why you’re not seeing results. Scrutinize your diary and ask yourself the following questions:
Am I getting enough rest?
Am I working each muscle group hard enough?
Am I getting enough variety in my workout?
Am I lifting enough weight?
Am I doing my cardiovascular exercise before my weights or after?
Here is a sample workout log that you can modify to fit your needs.