When I began designing my own workouts over six months ago I had no idea what I was doing. I threw a bunch of different exercises together with different rep counts and weight sizes and called it a session.
Even though these workouts were sloppy and kind of made no sense to me, I knew I wanted to learn and grow from them. Not just as someone who wanted to become a personal trainer and create well-rounded and effective programs, but also, as someone who wanted to track and see personal progress overtime.
When you are just starting to lift weights (or run or walk) you might not see the importance of writing down what you accomplished in a single workout session. Because, let’s be honest, it might not seem like something you will be doing in 3 months/6 months/a year. I’m here to tell you though, that keeping track of your progress in a journal or calendar is one of the best things you can do to not only stay consistent but also help you through some of the bumps along the way.
I hope, that by reading this, you decide to incorporate the beneficial practice of fitness journaling. Which I will explain to you as a two step process.
The first step consisted of me writing out on a calendar (for a 6 week period) what types of workouts I would be doing daily. This might seem overwhelming to you as a beginner but I promise it is not as daunting as it seems. My workouts repeat every seven days so I really just needed to figure out a plan for one week and then repeat it six times. Once I had my 6-week plan in place, I would write it out on my calendar. I really prefer an “old school” method for this because as I completed workouts I would put a sticker on the calendar square as a “gold star” for completing another day. Yes, maybe this is very childish BUT seeing a line of glittery, rainbow stickers in a row really starts to get addicting, so much so, that you want to fill the whole month and the month after that.
The second step was to write out each specific workout in a journal. Each exercise, how many reps, sets, and amount of weight I would be lifting went into the journal. At first, as I stated before, the workout sets were all over the place with not much rhyme or reason, but, as I have progressed, so have the quality of my workouts. This step not only helps me in seeing my progression over time but it really is a motivator in keeping me going. I can look back on some of my most early workouts that I recorded and I just think “wow, that’s what I was doing just 6 months ago, where can I get in the next 6 months?”. Another beneficial outcome to journaling is being able to know if you need to make slight tweaks on a daily basis. Now, I highly recommend sticking to a program for at least 6 weeks to see if it is really working for you, but, if your workout isn’t challenging you it needs to change (so that you can change). Here’s an example for you: if you are doing bicep curls as part of your workout twice a week and you are doing two sets of 10 and you feel like you could do more, then do more and take note of that in your journal. Next time that exercise comes up in your routine, you won’t fall back to the 10 reps because you will be reminded by your journal that you pushed yourself to do 12, so trying 12 this time would be a good idea.
The last and probably most important thing about journaling is that it really helps you focus your mind on something that is NOT the scale. Too many of us fall into the trap of weighing ourselves and using that as the only indicator for success. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain, or maintain, the scale can be frustrating because it really does not tell the whole story. Your journal will help tell a more complete story. As you up your reps and increase the amount of weight you are lifting, you are making progress! This progress might not be something that is measurable by a number on scale, remember that.
Using the calendar system and tracking your workouts in a journal will not only help you stay consistent and motivated to keep going but it will help you become more mindful of your daily progress as well as weekly/monthly progress. And, when you are in a slump (whether a physical or mental one) it will really help you in seeing the bigger picture of how far you have come and how strong you are getting along the way.
I have been journaling consistently now for 6 months and have found so much benefit in the process. I make it a part of my daily routine to go over my workouts for the past few days and see how I can challenge myself further. The process has made me mindful and more in tune to what my body is doing. Because of journaling, I have been able to achieve so much more.
I would love to hear from you. Have you tried journaling or using a calendar to keep track of your workouts, if yes, I would love to hear how it has benefited you. If you haven’t utilized it, are you willing to give it a try? Let me know your experiences with it.
I am here to help, so, if you need any more information or have any questions, feel free to ask.