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4 Cool Things That Happen When You Start Journaling Your Workouts

4 Cool Things That Happen When You Start Journaling Your Workouts

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Takeaway

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

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Last Updated on June 5, 2018

Is Building Muscle Possible in Your 40s? (Build Muscle the Batman Way)

Is Building Muscle Possible in Your 40s? (Build Muscle the Batman Way)

Ben Affleck just recently got in bodybuilding-shape for the movie Batman vs. Superman. What few people know is that Ben Affleck is 45 years old at the moment. Yet Ben Affleck looks like a monster in his role as Batman. On top of that he’s 6’3” – being tall makes it even harder to look muscular. Yet Batman completely nailed it.

    While a lot of the look as Batman may be due to his costume and the lighting, Ben Affleck nonetheless is a key example for building muscle if you’re over the age of 40. Mainly because he follows these 3 rules:

    Rule #1: Stick to the basics

    Ben Affleck doesn’t like working out, that’s where most people begin. Even me as a trainer, I don’t wake up in the morning and think: “Hell yeah, time to do a workout session”.

    It was torture. […] I hate to exercise. — Ben Affleck

    Training is nothing fancy, it should simply be part of your routine. Yet a lot of the people that start training after the age of 40 think they need a specific, fancy workout schedule. This is not true.

    While your recovery periods may truly be longer, you don’t need to train any different than a 20 year old unless you have major physical limitations such as a herniated disc.

    The most important thing in every workout schedule should be to get into a routine. This can be harder because as an adult, you have more responsibilities such as a demanding job or a family.

    In the beginning, you need to juggle multiple aspects of your life. That’s why you need support from your environment. Also, try to make friends at the gym or join groups on Facebook and Whatsapp. This will also help you with number #2.

    Rule #2: Keep going

    Most people that sign up for a gym membership quit after 3 months. I’m a huge supporter in making your workout and diet sustainable, yet this is much harder if you are 40+ years old.

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    That’s also a reason why most of the actors are not able to keep their bodies in the long-term. For example, Ben Affleck only has a great body until he has to be on the scene. The movie holds him accountable.

    If Ben would step on set, looking like a Spongebob instead of a Superhero, no one would take him seriously and he would risk his career. You have to hold yourself accountable to your workout schedule.

    Realize that most worthwile things in life are hard first before they get easier.

    Write down your realistic goals for yourself or even publish it on your facebook wall and post your training pictures. This will create social pressure to help you keep going.

    Plan your workout sessions ahead of the week and treat them as a priority. What works with most of my clients is setting a specific workout time in the morning. as the kids are often still asleep at that time. Make those early morning hours the ‘You-time’. Training early in the morning can also help with rule #3.

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    Building muscles will take longer if you’re 40 due to the wear and tear over the years. Be persistent.

    For extra accountability: Train with a friend or hire a coach. A coach holds you accountable and gives you the necessary guidance.

    Rule #3 Enjoy the process

    Ben Affleck told an interviewer that he noticed that once he went for a workout, other things started to improve in his life. He increased his discipline and had more energy at the movie shoot.

    This is a phenomena I can see on a daily basis. While we’ve seen in rule #1 that training is usually not that enjoyable, the other effects in your life are absolutely great.

    Your workout schedule can be a Trojan Horse. You start the schedule wanting to improve your physique but you end up improving every aspect of your life.

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    Getting a workout can be a huge win for your day. Even if your whole day was awfully bad, at least you got a workout in.

    Admiral William McRaven, the retired United States Navy Admiral talks about making your bed to start your day right. Going for a workout is making your bed on steroids. It takes discipline and willpower to do it, but training has many positive side effects.

    Instead of always focusing on your goal you have to enjoy and trust the process.

    You can build muscles after 40

    Ben Affleck is a monster. He’s a great example for a person that build a great amount of muscles even while being older and fairly tall.

    He managed to build such an impressive physique by following three basic rules:

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    1. Sticking to the basics.
    2. Finding reasons to keep going.
    3. Enjoying the process. Realize that exercising is a Trojan Horse.

    Here’s a video about how Ben Affleck transformed his body:

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