How and Why to Keep a Workout Diary

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People work out for different reasons. Some want to gain muscle and tone up and others want to lose weight. You might also be working out to prepare for an upcoming event such as a marathon. Unfortunately, most people work out without a plan, and they end up feeling disappointed and frustrated. Some eventually giving up working out altogether. If you want to achieve your workout goals and avoid frustrations, it’s important to have a plan. And this is where a workout diary comes in. A workout journal will help you to set goals and track your progress. If you have been training or exercising without a workout diary, here are some reasons why you should consider keeping one.

Set Goals

One of the most important reasons why you should keep a workout diary is that it will help you to set and focus on your goals. Working out, just like every other activity in life, requires a clear set of goals. Without goals, it will be almost impossible to know what you want to achieve, when you want to achieve it as well as how you intend to achieve it. Working out without goals is like someone who wakes up in the morning, prepares and leaves the house, without a set destination. For instance, if you are a runner, you can set weekly or monthly goals, and then work towards achieving them. Without a diary, it will be hard to know whether you’ve improved or not. On the other hand, writing your goals down will force you to make them more realistic and specific, which means that you will not lose motivation along the way. Therefore, whether you are a professional or an amateur athlete, it’s important to have a workout diary, if you want to improve the efficiency of your workouts.

Structure Your Workouts

Keeping a diary of your workouts, whether it’s running or weightlifting, can provide an important focus for your future workout goals. For instance, if you are a weightlifter and you are aiming to lift a deadlift a certain weight, then you will need to have a plan of how you intend to make this happen. And this is where a workout diary comes in. It’s a place where you write down your workout plans, and record the results. With each entry, you can look back and see how you performed during that training session. Also, such information will help you to determine whether there is anything that you need to adjust. For instance, if you manage to lift 300 pounds in one training session and you struggle to lift 200 pounds in your next workout, having this information noted down or recorded will help you to assess what might have led to the drop in performance. For instance, it might have been caused by a lack of adequate recovery, poor nutrition, or insufficient sleep. Knowing the reasons behind a drop in your performance will prevent you from becoming demotivated.

Measure Progress

Maintaining a journal of your workouts will not only help you to structure your workouts, but it also provides a great means of tracking your progress. For example, if you are training for a marathon, you need to start preparing early enough and have a clear workout plan. And it will be almost impossible to track your workouts if you have not written them down. If you have planned to run 5 miles in the first week, writing down those goals will help you to remain motivated. Also, writing down your training plans will also ensure that you don’t over-train or under-train. Therefore, it will be easy to keep track of what is ahead of you, without losing focus or feeling demotivated. Sometimes, it might feel as if your efforts are not paying off or you are sliding backward. However, as long as you have recorded everything, you can always check your fitness diary and it will give you a snapshot of your progress.

Identify Patterns

Do you find it extremely hard to attain your workout goals on Mondays? Or do you experience an energy slump on a particular day of the week? Well, these issues happen to almost anyone. By recording your workouts, you can use that information to assess your performance levels and identify key patterns if there are any. For instance, if you are always feeling extremely drained after an intense weight lifting session, you can spread out your workouts across the week, so that you can reduce your daily workload. You can also give yourself a break of a week or so, or even opt for a lighter exercise so that you can give your body ample time for recovery. With this approach, your workout diary will help you to break these patterns that are pulling your behind. Also, you can use those patterns to maximize your workouts when you are feeling rejuvenated and minimize your gym time the days when you are feeling drained.

Keeps You Motivated

Another important benefit of keeping a workout journal is that it will provide you with the motivation you need along the way. A workout journal will allow you to record the intensity and duration of your workouts. For instance, if you are a runner, you can record both the distance covered and the time used to run. If your journal shows that you’ve improved your distance or mileage, you will instantly know that your hard work and effort are paying off and your motivation will definitely soar. And if you’ve not achieved the results that you had expected, you will be more motivated to work train for longer and push harder.

Prevent Injuries

When you are injured, you will be forced to take a break for a few days, a week, or even months, depending on the extent of the injury. However, injuries are almost inevitable, especially in the early days of your workouts. But if you have a workout journal, you will have data on what caused the injury, the area where you were injured as well as how long it took to recover, which means you will be more cautious in your future workouts. For example, if a certain movement leads to an injury, you should record it in your workout. The next time you are training, you can avoid the movement that might have caused that injury.

Keeps You Accountable

If you write your goals down, there is a high chance that you will achieve them, compared to someone. On the other hand, if you keep saying that you want to achieve or attain a certain goal but you don’t write it down, it’s highly likely that you will never achieve it. And the same applies to working out. At the beginning of every year, gyms across the country are full of people who want to achieve various goals. However, only a small percentage manage to achieve those goals. And it’s highly likely the small percentage that achieves their workout goals, usually have a workout journal. Setting short-term and long-term goals means that you will have something to target every week. At the end of the month, you will reflect on how you’ve trained, the obstacles you’ve overcome, any injuries that you might have had or any problems that you might have encountered. On the other hand, if you don’t maintain a workout journal, you will be training blindly, without assessing whether you are making any progress or not.

Closing Remarks

As you can see, keeping a workout diary comes with numerous benefits. Whether you are recording your workout data on a piece of paper, a physical diary, a notebook or an app on your smartphone, always make sure you set achievable goals and record the action. For instance, you can record the date and time of the workout, the exercises done, reps, sets, mileage, rest intervals, any injuries incurred as well as how easy or hard the workout was. At the end of every week or month, you should review your workout diary to assess whether you’ve achieved your goals and then make the necessary adjustments.

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About the author


Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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