Body Conquest Articles | Keeping a Training Diary

on Tuesday, 16 April 2013. Posted in Training

Keeping a Training Diary

In every single competitive sport there is always something that's importance is underrated. In the sport of bodybuilding, body shaping and fitness competitions, the little old diary may be the prime tool that is both underused and overlooked. A diary can be a significant contributor to the efficiency of your training and crucial to your overall success. I think many trainees take an undisciplined approach when they think that they can't be bothered lugging a diary around the gym when they train. This is the single best way to record accurately how your training is progressing and what you are consuming via your nutritional intake.

Self-improvement requires meticulous planning and attention to the smallest of details. That's if you wish to etch a comparable physique. It is widely accepted that those people who actually take the time to write their goals, prioritise them and plan a means of achieving them are more likely to succeed than those who keep their goals as lingering dreams, desires and wish lists.

Consitent Monitoring

Bodybuilding may not be rocket science, however all of the interwoven factors on the path to an improved physique require careful monitoring of daily and weekly habits and routines. Especially if you want the end result to be something really extraordinary. We participate in a sport where it is vital to have everything working synergistically, so you need to be competent at self-monitoring. Unfortunately no one has a memory that is so good that we can memorise every workout, food intake and supplement for every day of our training lives. Yet these records ensure that we continue on the path to everlasting advancement.

No writer neglects to plan their literary work, no sculptor starts his design without a vision and so our sport is no different. You need to identify, plan, put into practice and constantly revise both your nutrition and your training information. If you take a half-assed approach to attention to detail, then your physique will reflect that approach. So instead be very precise with your path to self-improvement and make sure you introduce a training diary as a very important and necessary tool to complement your goals.

Goal Setting

There is no excuse for time in the gym, proper nutrition, and plenty of rest. So why spend time setting goals? Firstly because it works!. Once you have a goal it helps you to organise your time, your energy, and your efforts. Setting goals in your training diary will also help to keep you motivated, especially at the beginning of your mission where your motivation is most likely to wane. Written goals also have the advantage of having tangible "small successes". If you have built-in small goals that you're working toward on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, and you achieve those goals, you feel good.

As you are setting your goals, remember to make them specific and measurable. An objective of "I want to run a 10km run in under 50 minutes" is more effective than "I want to increase my running speed". This way you have a way of measuring and tracking your success. Instead of saying "I want to lose weight", say "I am going to lose 10% body fat", or I am going to add 10kg to my bench press within 6 weeks. Define your goal so that you have a means of measuring it.

Once you have completely developed your plan the task then is to track the progress. This is crucial to monitoring your own successes and failures. The easiest way to do this is with a training log where you can record your workouts. You can make a diary yourself out of an exercise book, or alternatively I have always had my clients use the training diaries developed by MSP here in Australia. This is because these diaries are more comprehensive than simply covering your training regimes. They allocate a page to your daily nutrition and have space to record your hours of sleep, energy levels, mood, supplements ingested, water intake and training intensity levels. As training is affected by all of these factors it is invaluable as a tool to suggest reasons why you are not achieving goals and to improve certain components of your lifestyle: whether it is your nutritional intake or the amount of sleep you have.

Progressive Evaluation

MSP diaries also have several pages dedicated to your physical evaluation so you can see tangible progress via your weight, body fat, blood pressure, inches added or subtracted, strength, flexibility, power and endurance advances. There is also space available for personal records and for additional notes that is fantastic for reaffirmations and philosophies to keep you on track. The monthly summary section is also excellent and important to record and revisit every month.

When you keep a training diary it is great to set aside a permanent time every week to sit down and revise the weeks efforts. Sunday nights after dinner may be a convenient time. Take some time out to re-examine your week and plan for the next one. As you review your progress, make appropriate adjustments to your training plan to keep you both on track and accomplishing your weekly goals. Once in a while take a look at the big picture-are you still motivated to realize your ultimate goals, are they still what you really want? Are your goals still realistic or do they need to be tweaked? Your training diary will help you to evaluate your progress. If you have hit a plateau, for example, you may find that you need to mix up or change your routine. You can more easily identify factors that may be contributing to your plateaus. Then you can work on solutions to overcome them.

If you are not adding the inches that you think you should be then you can use your diary to your advantage. You can see the number of reps and the number of sets per body part that you are doing, and can then change the amount accordingly. Most common is over training, by training a body part too frequently or by doing to many reps. Are you always training to failure? Should you perhaps use that tactic sparingly? How do drop sets and super setting work to enable your body fat levels to drop? Do you lose too much strength and size? The answers to these rather crucial questions can be found right in front of you in your diary.

For example you can see when your workouts are most effective. For example is it the time of day that you train which enables a more productive workout? If you are tired is it because you are forgetting to take your supplements correctly or does menstruating effect the level of training you can do or have a marked effect on what you eat? Being able to identify trouble spots is the first step in being able to find a solution to your problems.

How does relationship/family issues effect your training? Do you train harder when you are angry or does that backfire with an inability to concentrate and a lack of discipline to even get to the gym? These can be crucial factors preventing or enhancing the effectiveness of your plan. As with anything, if you can see problems you can work on preventing them or overcoming them.

An Essential Resource

Being a personal trainer for nearly thirteen years I have found the diary to be the best resource for personal information on any client. They are fantastic as a motivational tool, especially if someone knows that a particular weight is their "personal best" or the most amounts of reps that they have been able to do on a particular weight. Having a personal trainer makes keeping the records easy because they will write down your workouts for you. However, if you train without a personal trainer get over the feelings of "being pedantic", or "not looking politically correct" by carrying a diary with you into the gym. Professional bodybuilders always espouse the benefits of maintaining a diary as they see it as crucial to their success, especially their long-term accomplishments. It's only January, so it's certainly not too late to buy one for the year of 2004 and get your training right on track.

A goal is a dream but a diary holds the plan to get you there.