Greetings again from Fitness First- Rockville. We are looking forward to December, and I am sure everyone else is as well. The second half of the Holiday Season is upon us, and this is the time we find out if we have the strength to play the whole “game” or if we are lacking in Holiday Conditioning.
We wanted to discuss an important tool to anyone working on their fitness levels, novice or professional. This tool can become one of the single greatest motivating forces in any routine, and for anyone already using it, it is essential. This little gem is the Exercise Journal/Log.
It might seem silly to some, but the Exercise Log is vital to fitness efficiency and knowledge. Below, we are going to talk about some of the benefits that are immediately available to anyone using a journal. We also want to address what needs to go into a Log.
Why use the Journal?
MOTIVATION – Simply put, some people find that keeping a journal is a serious boost to motivation. Lets be honest, we all need motivation to get into the gym, or do our full workout once we are there, at one time or another. Any tool that gives us any boost in that department is a godsend.
We have found three common themes amongst those we spoke with.
- I can share it with my friends and my trainers.
- I can see all the work I have done (and the progress) in black and white.
- It makes me feel like I know exactly what to do and how much. (We call this the Lost in the Weeds Effect.)
EFFICIENCY– We all have lives and demands outside of the gym. The time spent in the gym are essential, but so is our time with our careers, our friends, and our families. Knowing what we are doing on Wednesday, how much time it takes, and the best time for us to do it gives us the ability to maximize the time we invest. This also leads us to the next benifit….
RESEARCH – What is working, what needs to be increased, what needs to be decreased, what needs to change. Fitness is an ever changing road. As we become more fit, we grow. As we grow, we will change. Our workouts will change with us. The Journal is our own research log on what we did to get where we are.
FUTURE PLANNING – The flip side is also true. We can track what isn’t working for us. Are we not seeing the gains we wanted? Is something missing in our workout? Are there days when exercise is just not happening due to scheduling? Are leg workouts interfering with getting around at work? Well everything is right there! It is much easier to make new plans, alter schedules, and plan for next month when we have all that information available.
What goes into my Journal?
Lets assume that you are ready to start using your journal. What all should be in your journal? It is pretty simple really. You can pick up a journal from amazon or any of the numerous sites online for very little, but if you wanted to build your own we will discuss what you will need.
SPACE FOR NOTES – This is the most overlooked section. Leave yourself space to record various notes each day. They can be as simple as, Missed Sleep Last Night or Turned Ankle this morning. This lets you put the work out into some perspective. You might discover a trend this way, or find a gem that made the workout easier.
WORK OUT MATRIX – This is the Excel like spreadsheet that records your exercise name, sets, and reps. For Cardio this would include, What you did, how long, intensity, and your Heart Rate. For Cardio, the notes section is very important. Over a week, you will see your progress and trends. Over a month, good workout days will become evident, and your improvement will leap off the page at you.
GOALS – This is essential. You need to have a space for your weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals. This can just be a short paragraph, but essentially you must be able to see how close you are to your next stepping stone, and how much more you will need to do. Comparing your progress will help you set realistic goals overtime, but you can also see if you need to increase your intensity.
The inclusion of a workout log will show immediate payoff for anyone that includes them in their routine. They can be very affordable (a spiral notebook) or quite elaborate. Most importantly though is that they are used, and that they move you one step closer to your goals, and your fitness.
Until next time, see you at the gym.