Are you really progressing in the gym or do you just think that you are? How do you know what you need to do this workout, this week, shoot even this month? So many times as a personal trainer I have had people come to me saying that they are not making progress anymore, that their training feels stale, or they are lost when it comes to their own training. When I ask, “What are you doing for your training?” More often than not the answer is a vague description of some of the movements that individuals do but no actual data is written down. One of the simplest and easiest ways to ensure that you are progressing in the gym is to log your workouts. By logging your workouts you know exactly what and how much you did each time you step into the gym. When it comes to any form of training whether it be lifting weights, doing cardio, or even improving mobility in order for the body to adapt you have to continually provide the body with an overloading stimulus. For example, let’s say you went into the gym and did 3 sets of 10 on the bench press at 135 pounds. In order for your body to continue to adapt the next week you would need to do more than you did the last time because your baseline fitness has now changed. So the next week you would need to do 3 sets of 10 at 140 pounds to provide your body with a new stimulus. Of course there are many different ways to progress each week but you get my point. If you were to come back in the gym and do the same 3 sets of 10 at 135 the next time you would essentially be going nowhere. Think of it as pushing a rock up a large hill. As you get higher and higher, the amount of force you need will have to continually increase if you wish to make it to the top.
Now that we understand the concept of progressive overload, what does this have to do with logging your training? If you just go into the gym without having a plan written down and have no data from the last week, you are just relying on luck to make progress. The log book keeps you honest. Sure it would be easy to roll up to the gym and do what you feel like but now you know that you have to do more than last time. So you can choose to ignore what the log says or you can do what you have to to make progress. Remember the log book never lies.