Weight Training Log – Why You Need to Track Your Progress
Are you training hard to gain muscle mass and strength? Do you bust your butt in the gym and in the kitchen to get the best results possible? If so, you need to be tracking your progress with a weight training log! As you probably know, the only way to get bigger is to get stronger. Well, how do you know whether or not you’re getting stronger if you’re not keeping a log? Gaining strength on basic lifts like the squat, bench press, and deadlift takes time, and you’ve got to keep track of the small progress you make each and every session. Here are a few ways you can use a weight training log to make the best muscle building progress possible.
1. Track Your Main Lifts
Are you focusing on a few, basic, heavy lifts? Do you care far more about how much weight you’re moving on the squat, bench press, deadlift, and military press than anything else in your training? Many bodybuilders and other weight trainees find it useful to worry mainly about their progress on these heavy lifts and just make sure they get some good work done on their accessory movements. If this is your situation, then use a log to track the progress you make on those lifts you care most about.
For instance, let’s say you squat every Monday. (Why wouldn’t you – Monday is international chest day for less serious trainees – the squat rack is wide open!) Let’s also say that your current best set of 5 reps is 315 x 5, and your next big goal is 405 x 5. You’re not going to get there in one session. In fact, you’re probably not going to get there for a few months! That’s fine, though, because slow and steady progress is the name of the game in bodybuilding.
Every time you squat, you record the weight and reps for that heaviest set. That way, every squat workout you’re got a small goal of beating last week’s performance. The weeks add up and before you know it, you’re at 405 x 5! For most people, this is a much faster way of making progress than simply staying at the same weight for weeks on end, trying to get more reps, and then making another big jump.
2. Record Every Set and Rep
Are you really into details? Do you need to analyze things way more than most people? I don’t typically like to get anal-retentive with my training log, but some people make their best progress by recording pretty much everything they do in the gym. If that suits you best, then go for it! For instance, consider the example of recording your squatting. Maybe you like to record every warm-up set leading up to that heavy one. Maybe you even want to write down everything you did after the squatting – all your sets of leg presses, sit-ups, calves, etc.
As long as you keep trying to beat the numbers in your log week after week, you’ll be making progress. Most lifters don’t like to keep up this kind of record-keeping forever, though. As you gain experience, you’ll probably find that there are things you need to be strict about recording, and some things you can let slide. Does it really matter that you did four sets of dumbbell flies last week and only three this week? As long as your bench press is improving, probably not. In the end, though, this is one of the benefits of keeping a weight training log. You learn more about your own body and how it responds to training. Eventually, you may even get to the point where you don’t need a log at all, and where you can just remember everything important that needs to be remembered. Until then, however, track your progress!