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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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