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7 Reasons Why You Should Be Keeping a Workout Log

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Keeping a Workout Log

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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