T Nation

Taking the Fun out of Weight Training

Training is fun for me, but I go into the session with a plan.

I try not to let it get to full blown OCD, but if you want to achieve anything with life, I think a plan will always get you there sooner.

Additionally, if you’re not recording your weights and reps… how do you know if you’re consistently improving?

You might think you’re working hard, indeed you could be, but still stagnating or plateuing.

Keeping a log eliminates this possibility.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
I have a hell of a lot more fun than if I had to plan it all out like some scientist.

Isn’t training supposed to be fun, to challenge ourselves, to scream and really pound those weights? The personality change from training animal to dweeb accountant between sets just doesn’t suit me.[/quote]

I am a scientist. I had fun in math class. I could have done something else, and made more money, but I love being a scientist: making measurements, keeping records, analyzing data, identifying patterns and trends – that’s fun to me.

So is lifting something I couldn’t lift a month ago. Or doing reps with my old 1RM. Or walking out of the gym, feeling like I could walk through a wall. Two different kinds of fun, of course.

But the scientific approach does work. You do make progress, and the structure is a source of motivation for me. I want to go to the gym, partly because I have goals I haven’t achieved, and I know what steps I need to take to get there. If I don’t take step one today, I can’t take step 2 tomorrow.

Doing DLs today was an opportunity to move myself one step closer to my goal. I was a little scared by the combination of weight, sets and reps I had planned, because I’d never done so many reps with that weight. But I didn’t want to miss my opportunity. And I fucking nailed it. Walking out of the gym with those little numbers written in my book was a great feeling.

But that’s just me. If keeping track of your diet & training data isn’t fun for you, don’t do it. You’re right, it’s not your job, it shouldn’t feel like work. As long as you are happy with your results, keep doing what you’re doing. For me, NOT doing that stuff would feel like work.

counting isn’t for me i train to release demons when i finish a set it could be 3-30 i feel like strangling someone while pissing on myself!!! i had a good workout today.

[quote]goochadamg wrote:
I like math. I’ll do math problems for fun and I like being a weight lifting accountant, as you put it.

So, uhm, why don’t you stop trying to take the fun out of weight training? ;)[/quote]

Point taken, at least by me. However, in my opinion, someone like you has to be careful not to allow all that numeric poetry to inadvertently displace effective sweat. In other words somebody with a personality like yours. which there’s nothing wrong with, probably has a greater propensity to abide by all the pretty figures and have a more difficult time noticing whether they’re actually producing the best results or not.

i also feel like alot of people are pussies

My logbook looks like this

Reverse Grip Press

LT(last time) 205 12RP(rest paused)
TT(this time) 210 14RP

That would be my triceps exercise, it’s 5 exercises like that and that’s it. If I’m using a machine or adjustable bench I’ll note the seat position/incline/whatever so I don’t do something different next time but that’s as detailed as I go. I fill out my book after I warmup and do my set. If I felt weak that day I might have stuck with 205 and pushed the reps up, if I felt real strong maybe slap on 215-220.

I had to get at least 11 and 15 is about as high as I’ll go so I knew 210 was definetly in me and could have done 215 most likely but wasn’t certain. No scientific jargon, no planned %s of 1RM, I rest as long as I want. There isn’t a set weight I’m planning for a set rep scheme, I’m just there to kick more ass than I did last time.

I write down my workouts so that when I go to the gym, all I have to worry about is beating the shit out of the weights, rather than scratching my head and trying to remember what I did last time and for how many reps.

That being said, people who keep excel spreadsheets and log their moods are most likely missing the point.

Wanna get bigger and stronger? Lift something that was heavier than what you lifted the week before. String 50 weeks together like that with plenty of food and rest and youll be doing just fine.

I enjoy getting stronger and bigger, I dont lift for the pump I lift to be strong and big, keeping track of the weights is the easiest way to reach my goals.

And a simple training program is definatley needed for new lifters, if a beginer dosent have a program then they will just spin thier wheels like all the people we hate and talk shit about here on T-Nation.

What your talking about sounds like a great idea for a experienced lifter who has already put in thier time lifting heavy weights and building muscle mass. But other than that, no.

[quote]Uber N3wb wrote:
I enjoy getting stronger and bigger, I dont lift for the pump I lift to be strong and big, keeping track of the weights is the easiest way to reach my goals.

And a simple training program is definatley needed for new lifters, if a beginer dosent have a program then they will just spin thier wheels like all the people we hate and talk shit about here on T-Nation.

What your talking about sounds like a great idea for a experienced lifter who has already put in thier time lifting heavy weights and building muscle mass. But other than that, no.

[/quote]

I agree and disagree.

On the one hand, I like to track my progress as it lets me know my starting point for the next session.

On the other hand, the more I see some of the threads people start here the more I think people would benefit from just training hard and eating enough. How many times do we have to see people getting caught up with the numbers before we realise it may be counter productive?

People seem to have absolutely no idea how to push themselves, all they have is their program. People don’t seem to know how to read their bodies, all they have is their numbers.

Anybody else noticing that there seems to be a lot of people that are afraid to make their own decisions, afraid to make mistakes? I think this is a direct result of people no longer believing in themselves and using the latest and greatest program or research paper as a crutch.

IQ, usually what happens (from my experience and from what i’ve seen) , is that quite often until people have a good base of being on solid programs for a while…is they think their chest and bi’s have supernatural recovery abilities, so they train them 6X/week, and many things get left behind…they may push themselves (or not), but quite often in the wrong direction, as we’ve probably All been witness to

[quote]brian.m wrote:
IQ, usually what happens (from my experience and from what i’ve seen) , is that quite often until people have a good base of being on solid programs for a while…is they think their chest and bi’s have supernatural recovery abilities, so they train them 6X/week, and many things get left behind…they may push themselves (or not), but quite often in the wrong direction, as we’ve probably All been witness to[/quote]

You may have a point, but even looking at the bench/curl specialists in my gym I can at least say that they look like they bench/curl (even the smaller ones).

Now, we have people with all of this information yet they are making no progress. First class when it comes to regurgitating theory but not so hot when it comes to showing their actual application of said theory. The main thing the people I see in the gym making no progress have in common isn’t the way they train or their training philosophy, it’s their lack of effort.

I think there are periods when it’s good to leave the rep book at home and just train by instinct (some workouts even have such “coasting” weeks built in). But as a long term strategy I don’t see it yielding the best results. Also although I do enjoy weight training in and of itself I have other things that give me more enjoyment, therefor I’ll usually try and plan my workout so I don’t idle in the gym to much and have time for other hobbys.

I record my workout in my head. I don’t write it down until I type it here. Needless to say that I memorize what I have to do and what I’m able to do on that particular day.

You have some good points and for me, keeping it fun is important. But of course it is fun to have a good plan. But it should not be some mathematical approach unless you are an elite athlete or a nutter.

But also, what you prescribe, the problem is that there are a few principles that must be taken care of.

If you keep doing the same thing again and again just trying to add weight, you will fail to increase strength AND it won’t be much fun hitting your head on that wall, weekly. You need to change things up to stay in a zone of stimulis that your body will adapt to. THAT is fun. Being in a rut is not.

If you are experienced and intuitive enough then you can do all that with no plan.

I’d also say that people who are not intuitive enough/ experienced desperately try to follow plans with maths like progressions, and also fail.

Really a system needs to be based around feedback so you know where you stand, when to change things around. A “perceived” 80% effort, not a calculated 80% effort, as an example. I believe this is the future of lifting programs, describing them in a way that you really know where you stand and what to do when, and why.

[quote]undeadlift wrote:
I record my workout in my head. I don’t write it down until I type it here. Needless to say that I memorize what I have to do and what I’m able to do on that particular day.[/quote]

I do this as well. I like having a definite goal of getting a certain max or doing a certain amount of more reps when I walk into the gym. Like for example, when I am going to the gym, I think for lets say Squats, “Okay, I want to get at least 2 reps on this lift today.” or “I am going to do 3 sets with an extra 2 kilos on the bar that I didn’t have last time”.

I also love logbooks because I like seeing the numbers going up and KNOWING that I am either progressing, or not.

One of the stock complaints about any Martial Arts system is that it doesn’t prepare a person for actual combat. Some come close (kina Mutai, Brazilian JJ, Hapkido come to mind). However, nothing can ever actually be a fight to the death like…a fight to the death (no rules, no ref).

In the same way, having a plan for the weights just doesn’t match up. One of TC’s columns (I think it was his) talked about how he could OH Press 400 lbs, but had a lot of trouble moving furniture.

So, its all about goals. If you want to increase the weights for a meet or add mass for a show, a plan is probably wiser. For anything else, its pointless. Reality is NOT a plan. You can make all the plans in the world, then one thing changes and the plan goes all to hell. That’s REALITY.

One of my sons is applying to West Point. They like football players because they can stay calm when the plan goes all to hell…which it usually will.

Lift, keep adding weights until you can’t lift it, go home.

logging your workouts is so you know you are progressing each workout, am I right?

Here is how I know I am progressing each workout:

  1. When I lift more weight (i dont have to use a notebook to remember what I did on the last workout)

  2. The simple fact that I hit near failure or failure each set.

Let me explain that a bit more. First of all, assume your diet is perfect (which mine is). Now, take for example 80lb dumbbells for dumbbell bench press. Week one you do 12 reps to failure with that weight. On week three, if you are still hitting failure, do you really think you will still be doing 12 reps? No, you’ll be doing about 15 reps. Which is progression. Then once you get to 15 reps, you up the weight so you can go back down to 12 reps. Simple.

[quote]Goodfellow wrote:
i’ve gone from 135lbs to 170lbs in one year and have never once logged my workouts.

logging your workouts is so you know you are progressing each workout, am I right?

Here is how I know I am progressing each workout:

  1. When I lift more weight (i dont have to use a notebook to remember what I did on the last workout)

  2. The simple fact that I hit near failure or failure each set.

Let me explain that a bit more. First of all, assume your diet is perfect (which mine is). Now, take for example 80lb dumbbells for dumbbell bench press. Week one you do 12 reps to failure with that weight. On week three, if you are still hitting failure, do you really think you will still be doing 12 reps? No, you’ll be doing about 15 reps. Which is progression. Then once you get to 15 reps, you up the weight so you can go back down to 12 reps. Simple.

[/quote]

Your still logging the weight used, maybe not on paper but your saying that is does matter to you, the OP talked about just useing what ever wieght you feeled like until you hit a couple max sets.

If a new lifter goes into the gym and just does what ever he wants and dosent care what weight he uses, just that he hits a couple sets of near failure reps, he wouldnt make as good of progress “I dont think” as he would if he had a set training program like 5x5 for the first 20 weeks or so.

Im just speaking from my own experience, I literaly sodomozed my beginer gains with low carb diets and useing the same weight for the same reps on a retarted workout that involved no legs barley any back or trap work and no abb work. I was a weak fat tired version of the bench and curl guys. So you all can probably see why I advise a program for beginers…

[quote]IQ wrote:
<<< I agree and disagree.

On the one hand, I like to track my progress as it lets me know my starting point for the next session.

On the other hand, the more I see some of the threads people start here the more I think people would benefit from just training hard and eating enough. How many times do we have to see people getting caught up with the numbers before we realise it may be counter productive?

People seem to have absolutely no idea how to push themselves, all they have is their program. People don’t seem to know how to read their bodies, all they have is their numbers.

Anybody else noticing that there seems to be a lot of people that are afraid to make their own decisions, afraid to make mistakes? I think this is a direct result of people no longer believing in themselves and using the latest and greatest program or research paper as a crutch.[/quote]

Wherever else this thread ends up going there is huge truth in this post. People do not learn how to read their bodies nowadays because they’re too busy reading words.

I don’t think I ever actually thought of it consciously as a symptom of a lack of self confidence, but I think he’s on to something. It also explains why so many pepole have so many mediocre goals any more as well. Guys show up asking what program to use to make themselves look like some actor after a six week crash lifting stint for a role. In many cases probably because they don’t believe any more can be achieved and definitely not without being held by the hand while they do it.

There ARE very experienced lifters who live by the records and the theory, but they are strength guys and usually competitive strength guys for whom the numbers are rightly their bread and butter. As has been said that has little application for even serious size guys. There are no rules for non competitive or size training. It is a very simple matter of adaptation. Force your body to do what it can’t in the presence of adequate nutrition and rest until it can. It doesn’t sit there obstinately refusing to grow because you haven’t read enough.

I still don’t believe keeping a log is an idiotic practice when it’s done by somebody who has the other pieces in place and enjoys doing so. I also don’t believe it’s necessarily more advanced or elite to not keep records or follow a reasonably set plan. I just don’t think it’s essential either.

I hear you Headhunter.

I’m perhaps one who fits the profile of “overexcessive” when it comes to planning, recording, and incorporating different training ideas into my training regimen. The difference is where you find it tedious and “not fun”, I find all these aspects to be a great joy.

There isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not thinking about a plan or tweaks to a plan I constructed. I love this…maybe I’m a little sick.

This goes way past just training; I am a “data” monger…I feel an intense need to know exactly (or as close to exactly) what something does to my physiology. I get monthly blood work, I keep track of how I “feel”, etc. My logs are pretty outrageous when I think of it.

On the positive side, keeping track of “everything” has helped me to develop training plans, programs, diets, drugs, etc that work for me. I experiment with everything, and try to make sure I give a new “wrinkle” enough time to see if there are positive or negative trends. Alot of this experimenting is shot in the dark, but I do use alot of others ideas (especially those ideas gleaned from this site) to help guide my planning.

One poster, for example, indicates that he trains exclusively to get big and strong and not worry about the “pump”. My experience, based upon tons of experimentation on what works best for me, is that “pump” training (or, training for the pump) with appreciable weight and volume is the PRIMARY way I have been able to get “big” and “strong”. Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but the current trend of thinking where “pump training is ineffective” doesn’t hold a light for me.