T Nation

Logging Workouts?


Anyone else log all of their lifts?

I started last winter (December 2007) and have every single workout that Ive ever done recorded. Im working on my 4th notebook right now.

I VERY rarely see people record their workouts. Personally, I think it's kinda stupid not to. I really dont think anyone remembers exactly the weight that they did on their 2nd set of their 3rd exercise last week. If they dont remember it, how are they going to ensure that they add some weight or do 1 more rep, assuming all everything else being equal.

I find it a critical component of my rapid progress in the last year.



I think you may be mistaken. Just because you don't see someone carrying around a notebook does not mean that they are not recording their training, or not interested in their progress.

I am one of these "gifted" people that can remember what my goals are for that training day.

But to answer your question, yes I log all of my lifts.


I don't know... I used to log every little lift in a little notebook and it almost forced me to follow my routine very strictly. If I didn't do exactly what I did last week, then how was I going to monitor my progress?

I don't write down any numbers anymore and I don't think it's necessary for bodybuilding. I mean, I mostly remember what kind of numbers I'm lifting and for how many reps/sets, but sometimes I'll feel like I need to do another set of those pull downs.

It's a lot easier to log when you do something like a 3x8 routine, which I used to do. You're using the same weight all the time and you just record the weight and how many times you lifted it, but I switched over to pyramiding up for most lifts and using all types of drop sets, forced reps, and slow negatives. That stuffs a lot harder to log, but it's caused me to get a lot bigger.

The more you know your body, the less I think strict logging becomes necessary.


I record all my weight/sets/reps/rest in Excel immediately after a workout. I usually take in a post-it note that has my previous workouts rest and weight used. I'll also put other notes on it if there was something I struggled with.
I agree that logging helps with pregression but just because someone isn't carrying around a spiral doesn't mean they aren't dialed into what they're doing.



This can be a problem with some people. It's important to look at the trend for an exercise as opposed to progression in every workout (I wish this was the case though). If over 3-4 weeks you're improving then one off day isn't something to get too hung up on.

This is also true. In my opinion it's good to still make notes of intensity techniques like this. After some time of doing this you can bang through an old workout and see what kind of improvement you've made, keeping all things the same. For me I've found this to help figure out what techniques work well for me and what doesn't.



I log my workouts for weight and reps. I cant remember from week to week. Its a consistant way for me to ensure I progress. I can see how pyrimiding would be more paper work than lifting if you tried to keep track of all that. I think it can be a productive tool for most people.



I don't get anal with it, but it's an easy way to also look back and see where you were 3 months ago strength wise.

Is it a must? No, plenty of people succeed without it. Try it, if it helps keep it. If not, don't.


Certainly, there are many big dudes out there who dont log their shit. Certainly, many people can remember what they lifted the week prior. My opinion isnt a steadfast truth. Just an observation Ive made.

And you dont need to always do the same scheme (3x8, is the example given above). Just because one week you did 5x5 and the next you did 3x8, then you did 6x4, etc... that's fine. You can still get a great idea of your progress, especially if you keep track of it for multiple weeks.

Example: "Today is chest day. hmm... Im sick of the 3x8, im gonna move heavier and go 5x5. I remember doing that last month. Let's see what weight was moved..." Now you know about where you should be +/- a few pounds, instead of guestimating on the first set or two and then zeroing in on the optimum weight on your last set, because you havent done 5x5 for 2 months and you have no idea where you should be (you have been doing DBs or was doing 4x10 or something):
1 - 225x9 -- way off
2 - 245x7 -- getting closer
3 - 255x6 -- almost
4 - 260x5 -- there we go
5 - 260x5

While the first couple of sets werent "wasted", they could have been put to more efficient use in a 5x5 scheme. May as well have used the 225 as a warm up set. So maybe you shoulda done 1 more set of 265.

To me, it's just so much easier to look back in your log. You'll instantaneously know what weight should be used, if the previous weight was too heavy, too light, etc, and you'll be able to track your progress. "Sweet, two weeks ago I did 265x3, and now im using it in my 5x5."

Also, another thing that's useful is writing notes about intensity. It can help keep you accountable, in a way. If I was a pussy that set and didnt put out as much as I could/should have, then I write a big P and circle it next to that set. And apparently Im self-conscious of myself, because that (P) helps motivate me. I try to avoid having that symbol, naturally. At the end, I usually write a quick note: "Tough workout, bit drained on incline flies, felt great on incline DB though." Something like that.

One key thing is to not let the log dictate what you should do. I know a few people who do that.

In the end, I just think it paints a very clear picture of your progress and helps clear up your future lifts. Not to mention, it's fun to look back. It's my bible.


i log everything now


I dont think i'd ba able to continue without logging!!


Yea, I log everything in a little notebook. I've got a pretty compact shorthand, so one line of a little notebook is enough for each exercise, generally. e.g.

incline db flys 8@20 8@20 7@20

really good form gets underlined; crap form gets wiggly overline. If I needed help from a spotter, a spot goes next to the number, if I tried a rep and failed it could go down as something like 7,f@20. Supersets are shown by putting a bracket in the RH margin linking the sets; strip sets or whatever are shown by putting a bracket under the group of sets that ran together. If I'm injured or in pain, I'll put a note of that somewhere, and put the amount of pain as marks out of ten, next to a set.

Having the notebook often saves me from spending ages over the LB-KG conversion when I travel to backward countries ( :slight_smile: ). I find it helps motivate me and keep me honest. And it often saves a bit of time because I don't remember numbers well.


Nice, I definitely log everything now. The singular focus of my workouts is to provide enough stimulation so that when that exercise comes around again, I will be able to set PRs. Keeping a logbook makes it easy to remember weights and reps. Then you can look back a couple of months down the line and put your progress into perspective.


Logging workouts?
Let's see. How bout the chainsaw overhead press, the stump dead lift, the yarder cable pull, and most importantly, the two fisted beer can curl.



Yeah, I log everything i do, although at sometimes I feel that my logging dictates the way I lift, see above.


My memory is pretty bad at the best of times.


I've logged my workouts for about 2yrs now and it does help; to some extent.

For example, last weekend I was away in VA and trained at my friends gym. I didn't bring my book, and hit some higher numbers because my memory failed me.

Instead of 225lb for 6x3 on front squat; I did 5x5. Just the same with deadlifts; I forgot the weight I was at and ended up doing 20lb more; without chalk! (YMCA rules. Lame.)


I have been loggin on and off for at least 10 years. Its not the only way to go. It is a great tool for getting bigger and stronger. But after a while if you want to change your workout to get away from focusing on the weight and reps and back to the feel and the squeeze and the ache of the workout.... then its great to toss it for a while. Then drop it back in later. I find it very liberating when i decide Im going to ditch my log for a while.


You would never think I log workouts, most of mine seem random and I don't walk around with a pen and pad. Like someone else said I log it in excel immediately after. I don't use it to stick to a strict program, but more after a layoff of an exercise to make sure I'm not taking it to easy when I start over again.

I think it can be extremely helpful, I just have a hard time doing the exact same workout over again.


Logs are the shizzle.

I have logs from 1982 forward. I log movement, sets/reps, body weight, BF%, the goal for the cycle, and any special notes concerning lift like bench press with elbows out versu the power press elbows in for example. I also make notes concerning the feel I get during the lifts. I sometimes go back the next day and log a note if I get DOMs from an arrangement. DOMS is no perfect indicator of intensity but it certainly tells you that you did enough for change to occur IMO.

Dont forget to log your diet to correspond with your lifting log. It is cool to see how diet changes can impact a tried and true routine if you are inclined to tweak with it.

Once a cycle is finished I add in my measurements, body weight and BF% so I have the results of the cycle all neatly logged together.

If I like the results of a cycle I put a star at the header so when I go back to find a good routine they stand out for me.


I just started about 3 or 4 weeks ago, I agree it's a great idea and I regret not doing it from when I started training