Writing out your workouts is a decidedly low-tech thing to do. I accept that. Perhaps you have tried writing out your workouts but got bored with it, or found that it was too much work. But if you stick with it, and focus on the things that matter most to you and your training, you can wield some serious benefit from this basic motivational tool.
Here are just some of the cool things that happen when you start writing out your workouts when you hit the gym:
1. You start to see the holes in your training and lifestyle
One of the biggest surprises that happen anytime I work with an athlete when they begin using a workout log book for the first time is the absolute astonishment at how critical a role lifestyle plays into their workouts. This seems super obvious, but until it is written down in front of us, its impact lives in the land of denial.
Only when we see how a lack of sleep affects our performance, and how a lackluster diet shortchanges our abilities, that we begin to understand that our lifestyle plays a demonstrable role in how our workouts go. And the first step to changing something for the better is understanding it.
2. You start working a little harder in the gym
One of the curious side-effects of recording your workouts is that it forces you to be a little more honest with yourself at the gym. It helps you to make better workouts a habit. Sure, you could cut corners and leave early—but then you would have to write down that you did so in your training journal later that night.
While it’s not the same as having a coach looking over your shoulder to keep you on the program and accountable, the effect is similar. I’ve lost count of how many workouts I soldiered through and completed even though I wasn’t “feeling it” that particular day—all because I didn’t want to have to write out a crappy workout later.
3. You get a constant drip of motivation
When people talk about their workout journal, often the first word they use to describe it is “motivating!” There are a few different reasons for this, but the one I appreciate best is that it gives us a place to celebrate the daily victories. The power of small wins, performed consistently, is hard to truly appreciate and measure. After all, it’s easy to quantify the big goal—“finish a half marathon” or “Lose ten pounds.”
The training journal gives you a place to celebrate the little moments where you finished a really hard workout, or where you added an extra rep to your max bench press. Those pin-pricks of pride and motivation are what helps keep you coming back for more.
4. You develop some serious self-awareness
If there is one skill that I wish more athletes (and people in general!) possessed, it’s self-awareness. When an athlete works their squats every day for a week and then is disappointed that they didn’t add 50 pounds to their squat jumps, that is a lack of self-awareness.
When a gym-goer goes to the gym three times in one month and then is surprised that they aren’t motivated to workout, that is a lack of self-awareness too. If we understood the way we progress and our motivation a little more deeply we would avoid a lot of the snags and hiccups that derail us.
We all want to make the most of our time in the gym. The handful of minutes it takes to write out what you did and your related lifestyle habits can easily justify its time with better workouts, more self-awareness, and more motivation to show up again the next day and do it all over again. Sounds pretty cool to me.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com