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Published on: 01 Feb 2017 by jshaw
It’s no surprise that athletes like Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel, and Janet Evans all log their workouts.
Having a performance history to be able to flip through can help to boost motivation during training and in competition. It can help to solidify better workout habits, bolster self-awareness, and create positive feedback loops that athletes can use to address and correct weaknesses.
Here are 5 suggestions for how athletes can make the most of their workout log.
1. Record your workouts right away. One of the perks of logging your workouts is the accurate record of your training. This goes out the window if you are writing it out hours later, or even the following day. Accuracy matters, and keeping track of the myriad of splits, weights, and times is hard enough over the course of a two hour workout, much less the next day. Write it out as soon as you can once your workout is completed.
2. Go beyond just what you did during your workout. One of my favorite aspects of my workout log is that it is a therapeutic tool. I use it to not only track and measure what I am doing in the gym, but also provide context into how the workout fits into the rest of my week. Our workouts don’t exist in a vacuum—things like work stress, relationship drama and so on play a role in how my workouts go down. Journaling some of this stuff helps provide the context behind why a workout may have been derailed, or what was done outside of the gym in order to make the workout go so well.
3. Use it for planning. One of the smartest things you can do with your training journal is to write out what you want to do at your next workout. No matter how high level the athlete, we all have a tendency to dampen down our ambitions the moment we walk into the gym when it comes to what we wanna work on that day. It’s our brain hedging our effort for us, as though it’s doing us a favor. Override this by planning your workout well ahead of time.
4. Track the most important stuff. There are specific aspects of your training that really need attention. Things like insuring that you are getting enough sleep, or doing your pre-hab work, or spending more time stretching out your hamstrings after a big dead-lift day. Whatever those things are, make a point to track and measure them over everything else.
5. Share it with your coach. While your coach might be a super smarty pants, he or she isn’t all-knowing. They aren’t there in the middle of the day when you are stressing hard over a fight you had with your girl. And they aren’t in your head when you give up during a tough set towards the end of a set. While your journal is a safe space to extol how you’re feeling and how you did that day at the gym, it can also be a very powerful communication tool between you and your coach.
6. Customize it for you and your goals. At the end of the day, what works for another athlete isn’t always going to work for you. Don’t feel like you need to tailor your workout log book in the same specific manner that a fellow athlete does. Your training journal is yours, as unique as your goals, and should be treated as such.
When it comes to boosting performance in the gym, on the playing field, or in the pool, there are fewer tools that offer the kind return-to-investment that a workout log does.
It’s a cheap, insanely powerful tool that you can immediately deploy to help you destroy whatever goals you have set for yourself.