T Nation

training logs

For the life of me I cannot understand why a serious trainee does not use a training log. I still refer to ones I had 2-3 yrs. back if I find myself lagging in a cutting cycle or vice versa if I’m training for mass. It’s invaluable in keeping up with diet, supplement material, poundages, rep schemes, mood,so on and so on. It also lets me know if I’ve remained on a routine a little too long. Hell I’d be lost in the gym without it. When I go to my gym though, I notice that I’m one of only 2 or 3 people that do this. Any input from Patricia, Older Lifter, Joel or anyone might be of value to the newbies on the sight. Plus I might learn something. What are fellow t-maggers thoughts on this valuable piece in the bobybuilding puzzle?

In the last 11 years, working out at probably 20 different gyms in 7 different states, I’ve probably seen less than a dozen people keeping workout logs. At every new gym it is inevitable that people come up and ask two questions: 1) Are you a powerlifter? 2) What are you writing down?
I explain what and why, yet I’ve only seen one person actually adopt it themselves.

I’ve been using my training journal for about 3 years now. Last year I went as far as to input my information into an Excel spreadsheet on my labtop. It’s helped me to be successful in my workouts.

I keep a log, but I don’t take it to the gym with me. I just remember what I did vs plan and fill it out when I get home. More people may be keeping logs than you think.

So what exactly should be in a training log ?
Mine has date broken down by weeks, the work out itself by sets and reps by poundage. This about right ? sometimes I put down my effort
when it seems like i’m just going through the motions and try to make up for it the next time. On a side issue 1. How long should I stay on a particular work out until I change it.
2. What do I change, the program itself or just
the exercises ? 3. Is it safe to squat and deadlift on the same work out ? Any help and or suggestions is welcome. Thanks

“Knowledge Gives Birth To Strength”

We do not use one. I think its a good idea, if you have trouble remembering, or if you are a newbie. I tend to store things pretty well in my bean. If its helps your progress, use it.

It’s impossible for me to use one at the gym. When you’re only resting 45 seconds between sets it takes too much time to go fill in what I just did. As ko says, it’s easier to store it in the brain. I plan my workouts ahead of time but I remember what weights I use or should be using. I think its better to go by “feel” than by what you did on paper last workout.

When I first began weight training, I did keep a log. Especially once I began competing. But for the last 10 or so years, have not. Believe it or not, like Ko, I can recall what I have done in workouts past. I find that writing down this stuff can be helpful, especially for newbies, but I would rather rely on the strength of my old noggin than a journal. I do have pretty good memory.

I’m almost 26 & haven been keeping track of my workouts for close to 6 yrs. My dad has been doing the same. I even have got my wife into the habit of keeping track. I’ve never once seen anyone in my entire life keep track of their workouts at the gym. Never! And when I look around I see no one making progress either. You have to if you want to see results. It’s not a hard thing to do. I don’t understand…

because some of us arent obsessed with bodybuilding, and make gains easily without logging my everymove.

As a general principal and workout aide, I agree with N 100%. There are simply WAY too many people who are treading water and floundering aimlessly in the gym with no plan or purpose.


However, I DO think that a lot of it has to do with experience. I saw Shawn Ray at a seminar once, and EVERYTHING he appeared to do was “instinctual”, even when he was close to a contest. He stated that he had become so in tune with his body, and how it responds, that he could make an adjustment in is carb intake here, and his cardio there; or add a certain exercise to his workouts or change-up exercises, without even giving it a lot of thought. (He also never wrote anything down. He didn’t have ANY idea on how many cals he ate or ratios, etc.)


So…I think a lot has to do with experience. I personally still use a log.

Yes. I keep a training log. In fact, I was about to fill-in this week’s mirco cycle.
First, I use a training log in several different ways. 1) It helps me with my long-term and short-term training strategy and tactics (Hey, I am an ex-army operations and training officer, what do you expect.) 2) It allows me to evaluate the effectiveness of a particluar program. 3) It helps keep me focused. How many times have you ready an article on a new training program and wanted too try it the very next workout? 4) It motivates me while I am in the gym, I know what I should be doing on every set.

My log seems complex, but it is really simple and easy to use in the gym. It consists of eight columns: Notes, Exercise, SetsxReps, Tempo, Weight, Work Reps, Rest, and Next Time.
Notes: One word reminders writen in red ink: FORM, SLOWLY. Exercise: Incline DB Press. SetsxReps: 5x5. Tempo: 4121, Weight(in red) 95. WORK REPS(This is the key to the system. writen in blue ink) 5 5 5 5 5 (As I complete a set I circle the completed reps if I do more or less I slash the number and write the correct number in pencil. This lets me know what to fill in the next workout.) Rest: 2 minutes (Use my watch with its’ countdown timer.) Next Time: Increase Weight (This lets me know what to focus on next time).
I also analyze my performance regular by plotting these numbers on an excel spreadsheet. At my age, I am happy to increase each lift by one rep a workout. (No, I haven’t use Mag-10 yet! Maybe this winter. Right now I am trying to get as lean as possible by October).
Sorry this post was so long. If there is a demand I has some time opening in the near future and can write a couple of articles on strategic training for T-mag.
Best of Luck

One of the most important elements you can add to your development. I have kept logs of my training (hard to believe) since the mid-70’s. After nearly 30 years it makes a heck of a library : ) As an aside - it is a lot of fun to look back years later. In faith, Coach Davies

Nice entries. By the way I am not obsessed with bodybuilding, I just happen to love the sport. My log is fairly easy and a lot of times it resembles scribling especially during supersets, but I still like to look back on them for learning experiences. The main thing it does is keep me on the program I need to be on and get me off when I need to. Thanks Ko, Patricia, Older lifter, enjoyed your posts. I really respect your opinions. Naked Man is going to go obsess over his wife,now, Goodbye

Absolutely you must have a training log, if you are going to do this long term. Today my partner and I tested our 15 rep maxxes for HST and got to talking about other routines we have used. The point is, I can pull the logs and see how we did with HIT, 20 rep squats, etc. I also have a record to remind me how strong I can be. Looking at the books from 96-97 is always inspiring, had no injuries yet, and pushed some (for me) truly big weights. Interestingly, I was also much lighter then. And this is also in the logs, along with injuries and the exercise that caused them, even some diet and supplement info. If you don’t know where you are coming from, it is harder to get where you want to go. BTW, the fastest gains ever came from the 20 rep squat routine, and no supps but protein powder.

I have kept one since I started training, about 6 years. Mine very closely resembles OlderLifter’s. Keeping one doesn’t mean I am “obsessed” with bodybuilding, just don’t have the memory I used to and believe if I am going thru all the hard work in the gym, I owe it to myself to record it and progess from it. Having lived in So. CA and No. VA and been in numerous gyms, only seen a handful keeping logs, a few of them after they talked to me about what I was writing down. :slight_smile: Herc.

I just started keeping a training log after lifting for several years. I figured it was worth a shot, especially since having numbers and visible evidence of what I’ve done appeals to the nerd side of me. I used to think like ko, as I could always remember sets and reps from previous workouts, but I found for myself that it helped to motivate me to make myself go back and look at what I’d done, see a number, and then try to outdo it. (8 reps instead of 7). I think that in the beginning, the more you write down the better. I still think writing things down is effective for me and most people in general throughout their lifting careers. It’s also funny to try and write during workouts. I write like a four-year-old. I normally write like an eight-year-old, but lifting really brings the penmanship down. Writing things down can get quite anal, and it might be wise to not record everything for short periods of time if it stresses you out too much.

I’ve found it helpful to give myself a grade (ABCDF) after each session and record it in my log. That way when I review a workout from last week, aside from the weight that I was moving I can tell how I felt about the intensity level/overall success of the session.