Do you find gyms intimidating? Feel lost while doing your workouts? Tried different programs with no results? Not always sure of want exercises you are supposed to be doing? Or maybe you're burnt out on the exercises your doing. A weight-training log may be exactly what you need.
Walking into a gym full of big bodybuilders or women built like models can be very intimidating. Having all these beautiful people working out around you can make you wonder if you'll ever be able to look like that. Well let me tell you a little secret they didn't always look that good and with a focused plan you too can look that way. Its simple, write down the exercises that you usually do with the amount of weight used and number of sets performed for a period of three weeks. Use a weight-training log. For example if you are doing a three day split that is you divide the body into three parts and train them over three days, write down three workouts for each group. Don't worry if this takes more or less than three weeks just as long as you record three workouts for each grouping. Now review your workouts after that period and analyze your findings. Were you workouts remarkably similar? Did you use the same amount of weight for the same number of sets? Was your cardiovascular training always for the same amount of time, done the same way? To quote a famous bodybuilder and actor," If you do what you've always done you'll get what you've always got", I'll let you try and figure out who said that. So the next time you have to train, try to improve in small steps maybe a little more weight on the bench press, say 5 lbs. Maybe try a different type of cardio or run on the treadmill for a little longer, say 3 minutes. These small steps will ultimately help you achieve your fitness goals faster than plugging away day after day never improving. Don't get discouraged if you can't improve every time. Remember, little steps.
One of my favorite methods for my training log takes a little longer to run its course but ultimately leads to excellent improvement. Try a heavier weight but for fewer repetitions, for example if I pressed 60 pounds for 12 last week, the following week I would do 65 for 10. Continuing with this pattern I would work down to 6 reps for 75 pounds. All this is recorded in my weight-training log. Now start at the beginning again but this time try 65 pounds for 12 reps; if you can do more than one set go ahead, but try a least one set.
Ultimately the idea behind a weight-training log is to be able to monitor your progress from workout to workout, improving a little with each session. Psychology has proven that positive reinforcement helps to improve your work ethic. One of the best things that arise from keeping a weight-training log is the ability to chart your progress. Even sea captains use maps and you wouldn't drive somewhere you haven't been without a map. So by keeping a weight-training log you should be able to see your progress. Watching your self improve in the mirror is often too slow; having it in front of you in black and white is undeniable proof of your progress, boosting your confidence and self-esteem.
Not every workout is going to be exciting. Life's not always a party and getting back into shape can be drudgery. Sometimes the days seem to run into each other and working out is the last thing you want to do. By maintaining a weight-training log of all your workouts it's easy to see if you are doing the same exercises time after time. If your workouts have become stale quickly review your weight-training log and see if there are patterns. If the same movements pop up week after week try changing things up. Ask your trainer about different training modalities or methods and you interest should perk back up. "I remember what I did last week", you say. Well sometimes the mind will play tricks and you'll forget what you did not than long ago. Countless times I've looked in my weight training log and said" I did that much last time?" Or "Wow, I haven't done this exercise in months". As a bonus to doing this your body has to keep adapting to new stresses which will help achieve those fitness goals faster, but that's a different column altogether.
Working part time at a gym I get exposed to a lot of people's habits as far as training and fitness. Some good and some bad, however the habit I like to see the most of is asking questions. Just the other day, I was approached twice by the same person with questions pertaining to properly performing the exercises on their program sheet. That's what the staff at the gym is there for so don't ever be afraid to ask. But if you have a plan a lot of the guess work is taken out of your workouts. Make little notes to yourself in your weight training log if need to remind yourself of how to do a particular exercise or what machine to use. Even write down how you felt on that day and why, lack of sleep, didn't eat well etc. Perhaps you have an injury, be sure to write this down as it will surely affect all or part of your routine. Knowing this will be useful later when you wonder why that workout was so much lighter than the previous ones. Write down when you felt strong and why this was. With this information it should be easier to duplicate the good days and avoid the bad.
Hopefully you'll be able to use all or part of this article to help achieve your fitness goals. Never stop trying to improve no matter discouraged you get. Remember little steps in your weight training log and you too can look your best. It's all just a matter of time and effort.
Ray Burton and Rick Northrop are authors at the Fitness Site You can learn to go from fat to fit in thier FAT TO FIT email course.