Tracking? Why?

Curious as to what experienced trainers in this group “log”?

I know Dr Darden would probably say charting is essential, and for a new/younger trainee I would agree 100%. If you signed up at a gym -HIT or not - having the trainer show you on paper how much stronger you are getting would be a big motivation/selling point.

As someone who has kept logs on and off (mostly on) for decades, they really serve no purpose other than satisfying (maybe unsatisfying would be a better word) my OCD. Is nostalgia a purpose? It’s just an annoying distraction that I can’t seem to let go of.

When you are training for some event, or are brand new, progression, preventing burnout, accountability, etc are all valid reasons to log things.

But what about the old guys here who train because you like it, and are not going to be seeing any new PR’s, but also are in no danger of slacking off?

Do you still log things? What do you get from it other than the obvious reasons above, which I feel (in my case) do not apply after you’ve been doing it so long.

1 Like

I don’t study old logs like my obsessive self used to do. However, I do need to flip back a few weeks to see what I did on a partcular exercise or sequence, so I can try and better it this time. I usually alternate between 3, sometimes 4, different routines per Type of workout. That’s 3 Push, 3 Pull, maybe 3 Arms, and maybe 3 Legs (if I’m doing those last 2 as separate workouts). If only for this ‘Recent Past’ reference, my logs are still invaluable.


This is a valid reason in my opinion, and sort of what I am doing currently. I followed along with the 30/10/30 threads and around the same time added a few new moves. Remembering the weight I could use for say leg presses for 30/10/30 really needed some fine tuning to find the sweet spot. So having a record was helpful for me.

I’'ve sort or internalized the poundages for the ~15-20 movements I use, so continuing to log serves no real purpose, but the record could be useful down the road if I change things up.

I log things like walks, tennis, flexibility work, etc. It turns into dear diary sometimes lol.

I enjoy keeping a log
I keep regular photos and circumference measurements
I use it to check that I am keeping my workouts balanced (i.e. that they do not become too fixed with any one cadence)
I also use it to monitor my strength changes over time I’m (s-l-o-w-l-y) getting less able to lift heavy weights

1 Like

I track only for the purpose of weight used and number of reps performed for the next time i perform that exercise


I am in agreement with @simon_hecubus @fitafter40 and @Jeff60. As I combine free-form HIT (mixed program and repvariation) with powerlifting - I need to know what I did last time around re a particular excercise. That said, I seem to have a good feeling for appropriate weight selection.


Good Log keeping can show your progress session to session, Month to Month, year to year. Really the important thing is raising your numbers from last time, but that doesn’t mean I’ll throw my old logs in the trash. It’s good to see how far you’ve come. I’m still setting PRs and making great gains after 15 years of lifting and logging has really made tracking it very simple.

For digital logs, I’ve been keeping a log on T-Nation since 2021. And it’s really insane when you see the first photos I’ve posted Vs my most recent ones as well as the numbers I put up now Vs when I started here at T-Nation.

How can you be objective about how successful your training and nutrition strategy is if you don’t log it? That’s like asking a scientist to perform an experiment But then asking him not to take any notes or record any of the data and go only off of memory and experience. That seems like a fool’s errand. So much of this is a numbers game, and we may not progress every single session but we at least want the trend line moving in a positive direction.


Thanks for the responses guys. Those are all valid reasons that would get no pushback from me.

@davemccright , I did look through your logs a while ago when 30/10/30 was trending here. Impressive!

At this point for me (n=1), I just question the need to keep a log just because I always have and everyone knows you keep a log!

I am not powerlifting or anything similar, so adding weight to the bar as a primary metric makes no sense. My focus is effort, efficiency, and safety. Internal focus. So the occasional note, idea, inspiration, etc may well be worth logging, but being an accountant, logging the same exercises, sets and reps week after week, year after year seems more like an obligation than something of value (to me).

@atp_4_me posted something on social media that I responded to (that was me) not long ago about how he logs or tracks absolutely nothing. I’d be interested if you could elaborate a little bit on that here. How come? Have you never kept records?

If you are familiar with Jujimufu, I saved a couple of articles from his website some time ago (they are no longer online).

Here are a couple quotes from them - It made a lot of sense to me (hence saving them).

The 1 essential logging truth

98% of my logs and journals are now useless. Why? Because,

Your logs and journals are like meat. They can be used only when they are fresh.

The 2 critical logging rules

• Don’t log it unless you already know exactly what you’ll use it for.
If you’re replacing a part in your car that’s buried under a bunch of other parts, you need to know how to put the pieces back together again after you dig its guts out. So you log the deconstruction steps by taking pictures with your smartphone and keeping a couple notes.

I think I’ve gone too far… I only need to replace the air filter.

So when you log your training/diet, you should get the same feeling of urgency you get when you do something like take apart your car to repair it. If you don’t get that feeling of urgency, then you won’t use your training/diet log.

Critical logging rule#2

• Your log should be written in the same style as a “to-do” list.
The whole purpose of any log is to make something change for the better. If the entries in your log are not outright telling you to do something specific like in “to-do” list fashion, then they will be worthless.

Just kicking the idea around.

I understand the enjoyment factor @Jeff60 - Maybe that’s all it is, I’ve lost that enjoyment. Not sure I want to document my inevitable decline :slight_smile: . Just do it?

I made the best gains of my life during the first year of training…having never written down a single damn thing. I would argue that tracking/logging slowed down my progress for muscle gains. I became fixated on increasing that rep or few pounds every workout where it never mattered and then became a negative for hypertrophy…taking me down that path of workouts that were too brief and infrequent. Invariably, it also encouraged more bracing and less focus on what the muscle is doing. Focusing on contraction, feel, fatigue, pump and ‘effect’ on the muscle did matter, not the weight per se. But it really depends on your goals. If I were aiming to reach a certain poundage on a certain lift, etc. I would absolutely be tracking. That’s just not what I do any longer.

1 Like

You make some great points there. I still record everything despite the fact that I’m not really going to get any stronger after 40 years of training and being 58 years old. I think it’s just habit now.
Thinking back to my early days of working out I was the only person I knew who meticulously recorded everything and everyone seemed to make better progress than me. I think that the double progression system combined with tracking weight and reps can create a sort of performance anxiety. At the start of the set your first thought is “will I be stronger, weaker or the same”. Obviously the desire is to be stronger so you do your best to squeeze out an extra rep. Before you know it progress has stalled and you’re using too much weight.
I like Brian Johnston’s idea of “freestyle training “. I think I’d feel a bit insecure going into a gym without a notebook but maybe it’s time to give it a try.

1 Like

I’m 51 and started training at 18. Sounds like we have similar life training experience.Yeah, for many years I was very meticulous especially during my “Heavy Duty” days during the 90s with Mike Mentzer consultations, etc.

Maybe the last 10-15 years, it’s been mostly freestyle. There’s a been a few times where I was recording for certain lifts for a few months at a time or something, but a minority of time. The only thing I have been periodically recording in recent years are weight, bodyfat (via skin calipers and Tanita scale), and tape measurements for waist and bodyparts. In the last 6 weeks or so with Zone Training, I lost 1.25" off my waist while all other measurements remained the same. No changes in diet.

1 Like

I have lost lower body strength over the last two years but I put that down to training at home with basic equipment. It’s probably worth tracking that for a while. I love the zone rep type of training and trying to get a stimulus with as little load as possible rather than pushing for heavier weights. I do seem to get leaner with this approach too.

1 Like

I did nothing of the kind!

Get your facts straight!

1 Like

Lol, yeah it got deleted I see. My bad, I was actually curious about your opinion. Should have known better.

Welp, as someone said somewhere about such things.

" Time to “settle in” old internet friend :slight_smile: We can break down a flower to the atomic level or whatever,stuff I don’t know…but I do know, you don’t get to smell it that way. Life is short…so so short. no time for silly shit "

1 Like

No such comment by me was ever made. Therefore, it could not have been deleted.

You lie!

How come a friendly question turn into this commotion? Everything is not black and white or right or wrong.

1 Like

I dunno, was not my intent. Weird cat.

I’m going to put it all in my workout log? :slight_smile:


Some are just angry in life


I workout on Nautilus machines in my garage. I track my workouts mostly because I can’t remember what I did last time and I want to improve on my last workout.
A couple of years ago I went back about a year and noted how many days between each machine used and did weight/ reps get lower, stay the same or get higher. The info showed I made no gains or got weaker working on a machine every 5th day or less. 6-8 days improved. 9 or more days no gains or weaker.
That is some good info.