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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.

More by this author

Daniel Wallen

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

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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