Looking to maximize the time you spend at the gym? For a moment, forget the latest and greatest in supplements and workout gear, or the most recent fitness fad to hit the late night infomercial circuit. Something as simple as keeping a workout log can help you stay focused and keep you motivated as you chase down your fitness goals.
Here are 7 ways that writing out your sessions at the gym in a workout log can help you get faster results.
1. It keeps you honest.
How many times have you walked into the gym without a clear plan of what you wanted to do? Did you complete your workout efficiently? Or did you skip out on some exercises and sets because you simply weren’t “feeling it”? Having your workout written out ahead of time in your exercise log eliminates the mental struggle we engage in, the back-and-forth where we try to legitimize ducking out early.
2. You’ll make better goals.
The only thing worse than not setting goals is setting unrealistic goals. Creating ambitious goals that stretch you to your limits are great, but massive and ultimately unrealistic goals leading you to fall short only serve to discourage and demoralize. Seeing how quickly (or alternatively, how slowly) you progress at the gym provides you with the feedback necessary to set fitness goals that are realistic, and will keep you from prematurely discouraging and demoralizing yourself.
3. You’ll get inspired.
One of the most rewarding aspects of keeping track of your workouts is the ability to periodically flip through and look over the work you have done. You’ll see results where you burst through plateaus, where you ran longer and faster than you ever thought possible, where you strung together 14 consecutive days of workouts. These feats in your fitness past will fill you with a sense of pride and remind you just how capable you indeed are. More importantly, it will give you that jolt of fire in your belly to get back at it.
4. You’ll find patterns.
Noting your workouts, as well as your diet, rest and stress levels will allow you to find patterns for why you feel like a beast some days, while on other days you are shuffling along, barely interesting in going for a walk, let alone the gym. How many times have you not felt the best at the gym, and not really bothered to ask yourself why? Odds are you passed it off, and trudged along with your day, not bothering to investigate why you felt off. Usually the reasons aren’t completely apparent; a bad night’s sleep, poor nutrition the day before, and so on. Having all of that information can allow you to establish patterns so that you can maximize the days where you feel like a boss, and minimize the ones where you don’t feel so super. Think of it as the ultimate feedback loop for your physical fitness.
5. You’ll exercise harder.
An aspect of keeping a workout journal that most people don’t necessarily think about is the desire to write out a good workout each day. I cannot count how many times the thought of having to write out a bad workout actually kept me from having one. Dips in motivation and focus will happen at the gym, but often the trepidation of detailing a less than stellar workout will overrule the yearning to bounce early.
6. You’ll have a plan for your goals.
Not only can a workout log help you craft better goals, it can also be the battle plan for achieving them. Whether the goals are ultra short term (that day), or the big audacious long term goals, you can track and measure all of them within the pages of an exercise log. Your log doesn’t need strict set and calorie counts; it can also be a blueprint for your goals.
7. It’ll give you a chance to vent.
Track your fitness regimen, and then write out how you felt that day, including your mood, any extra factors that affected your workout, or anything else that is bouncing around that brain of yours. Your workout log gives you a chance to vent, and provides a judgement-free sounding board for how you’re feeling.