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5 Reasons to Keep a Training Diary

5 Reasons to Keep a Training Diary

Going to the gym without a training plan is like driving across the country without a map. Sure, you will probably reach your destination (eventually), but you’ll make a lot of wrong turns in the process, putting yourself at the risk of becoming too discouraged to continue. Keeping a training diary will help you train with confidence and know that every single workout is taking you one step closer to your goal. Below are the top five reasons to keep a training diary.

1. You will no longer be confused about what to do.

The gym can be a scary, overwhelming, intimidating place. How many of those pieces of equipment do you actually know how to use? Probably not a lot. The good news: you really don’t need to use a whole lot. If you have a basic knowledge of how to lift barbells/dumbbells and go on the occasional run (inside or outside: your call!), you’ll be fine. Your training plan should include a lower body resistance exercise (such as squats, lunges, or hip extensions), an upper body push exercise (such as an overhead press or bench press), and an upper body pull exercise (like bent-over rows, assisted chin-ups, or cable rows).

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Your best bet is to stick with a consistent workout plan. Perform the same exercises (one from each of the categories above here) for at least four weeks. Take a day to practice any movements that are unfamiliar, work on perfecting the form with a light resistance, and begin working up until you reach a weight that is difficult to lift 12 times. Perform 3 workouts per week with 3 sets of each exercise per workout. Aim to improve in some way every single day (this could be an extra 5 lbs lifted for the same amount of repetitions or the same amount of weight lifted for an extra repetition). If you get to a place where it is hard to add weight or repetitions to an exercise (typically this can happen towards the end of a month of training), make it more challenging by reducing the amount of rest you take in between sets.

If you’re a woman who fears “getting bulky,” please be aware that female bodybuilders don’t look the way they do because of how they train (usually the culprit is steroids). Lifting weights will, however, have the side effect of making you hot and strong.

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2. You will be constantly aware of how strong you are becoming.

Your training diary will provide you with instant gratification. Seeing visual proof of how fit and strong you are becoming will help you stay motivated to keep bringing it hard.

3. You will empower yourself to identify and fix performance downturns.

Have a rough training session? Make a note in the margin indicating any circumstances that could be a culprit. Did you have a rough night of sleep? Did you eat too much for lunch and find yourself in a food coma? Was your mind swimming with stressful, distracting thoughts that made it hard to focus? Being aware of the issues that hurt the quality of your training will help you become aware of the sources of stress you need to deal with. Also, if you are consistently underperforming on a specific exercise, you could work on movement patterns that will help you overcome your plateau. For example, my grip gives out before my body is truly fatigued in some exercises, so I have to work on my grip strength to have optimal training sessions.

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4. You will have an outlet to express your thoughts, feelings, and frustrations.

Every training session isn’t one to remember. Sometimes I wonder if I left my coordination at home or in the car, because I find that my balance and grace are at dangerously low levels. We all have the occasional rough day or week we just want to forget about, and that is okay. Vent as much as you’d like in your training diary, and if you want to be super productive, write down how you’re going to solve your problem. Continuous improvement is the goal, so keep on trucking.

5. Later, you will be amazed at how far you have come.

I have training jogs that are dated as far back as four years ago. I am a personal trainer, but that doesn’t mean I was always a fit guy (quite the opposite). It is amazing to look back at my first workout logs, when I was squatting the bar by itself (because my balance needed work) and I couldn’t do a push-up or chin-up (because my upper body strength was nonexistent). Don’t look at a training diary as a short-term thing. Be consistent with this, and later on, you’ll be amazed at how far you have come.

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To log or not to log? I hope you enjoyed these reasons to keep a training diary. If you have any questions about how to start (or any helpful tips/resources to share), please do so below.

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Daniel Wallen

Daniel is a writer who focuses on blogging about happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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