Training Journal: why, what, how

“Slow, steady progress is better than daily excuses.” Robin Sharma

This is how my weightlifting training works: set a goal, set a time, then set a plan. It’s not complicated but we sometimes forget this simple recipes.

A plan for my training translates to daily programming. I don’t create my own programming but I tailor it based on what I need at that time. There are times when my coach write down my daily programming in details. Other times, I get a basic programming from a weightlifting club (thus, it’s not very specific for me) then tailor it to my weaknesses. Whatever the program is, since I’ve done this for sometimes, I have some knowledge about what works for me and what’s not.

The question is, how do I know what works for me? Time teaches me things but also, it’s my training journal that gives me this insight. I’m a classic and traditional person. I have my program written in a book! Somehow, pen and paper allow things to be registered in my brain better.

What do I write on my book?

I write my weekly training program every Sunday as my first training day is usually Mondays. I will write the prescribed weight and sets to my training book.

On my training day, I write down the actual adjustment if I can’t make the prescribed set/reps. I also write down other things during training: my technique, my strength feeling, and how I perform the lift (eg. good, bad, okay, etc). It’s all subjective but it’s supposed to be like that. Most important, when I notice weaknesses or things that make me perform the lift better, I write those down too.

For example, one day, I noticed that I forgot to adjust my hip properly during the start position. This happens when I am tired or during higher reps training session. It screws up my lift. I wrote that down to remind me so I won’t do the same mistake in the future. Another day, I notice a wider grip works better for my clean and since then, I switched my grip.

I also create a note section at the back of the book where I can use as a cheatsheet. I don’t open this note everyday. However, when I need a refresher, I open this section. My notes from my 1:1 sessions are written there too. That’s how I know what to focus on each training cycle.

I also wrote down my 1RM Personal Best. Sadly, it is not updated as fast as I want it but as long as it is updated, I’m happy. Personal best is a celebration moment. It also helps to show if I’m on the right path or not.

Although I don’t analyse my training logs on regular basis, having things as a journal helps me see the progress. It’s not easy analysing my log as it’s written in a book. However, what I believe works really well for me is the fact that I take time to contemplate on my training that day. It allows me to reflect on my training on a regular basis: check which cues are working, understand where I should improve, knows which works for my body.

Not only it helps me making some progress, training journal also helps me when my motivation is low. I don’t need to think what I want to do as it’s less relevant: I just need to do what’s written for that day.

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