Tracking Your Workouts

Tracking your workouts is critical to making whatever fitness improvements you are trying to make.

I'm always amazed when I'm at the gym and I see someone training very intensely but not writing anything down what they are doing.

Your health and fitness is just as critical as anything else in your life.  Just as you keep track of your checking account balance, your investment portfolio, your hours at work, the status of your projects and the whereabouts of your children, you need to be tracking your workouts.

Plus, it's easy, fun, rewarding and gives you something to do between sets so you get the proper rest.

In fact, looking at your progress is extremely inspiring while you are sitting there as well as giving you an excuse to get enough rest between sets so you can go all out.

Tracking Your Workouts

I've almost always been keeping of my workouts over the years.  I do not like spending all the time, expending all the energy and then not knowing what I should be doing in the gym.

Not tracking your workouts makes no sense to me.

How can you remember exactly what weight you used?  How can you remember how many reps or how many sets?

Where do you put down notes to yourself like you were not feeling well, or hungover, or very sore or injured?  Or how you set up the rack or bench on a new exercise.

It is not really about looking back years either.  Normally I just look back at the last few workouts.


From Bold and Determined

How to Consistently Make Progress in the Gym

Victor correctly discusses doing slightly more at each workout.  So how do you remember what you did last workout without tracking your workouts.


How I Track My Workouts

This is the Composition Book I use to track my workouts

I've stumbled on the best method for me.

It's just one of those hard covered composition pads we used back in high school English class.

It's simple.  It's durable.  It's big enough without taking up much space in your gym bag.

It gives your plenty of room to track your workouts on the right hand side and plenty of room to make notes on the left side.

The hard cover and pages all glued to the cover ensure the pages do not get all torn up or ripped out like in spiral bound notepads.

I keep mine in my gym bag and toss it around a lot at my workouts.  When I am working out hard, I don't have the energy to baby my notepad.

Legal pads don't really make sense for keeping track of your workouts. 

Moleskin notebooks would be even better, but they are quite expensive compared to this type of writers pad that you should be able to find for about a $1 at the Dollar Stores or Wal-Mart.

How It Looks

I track my workouts on the right side only. I put the day and date, exercise, reps/weight. I put a rectangle around the work sets. The sets without a rectangle are warm-up sets. I leave the left side of the book for notes.

Tracking Your Workouts
How I Set Up This Notebook

How I track my workouts on the right side of the book

  • Note the day and date.  Sometimes I note the time and the place if different than where I normally work out
  • Exercise on each line followed by the sets and reps
  • I put a rectangle around the work sets. 
  • I do note the warm-up sets.
  • The reps are over the sets.  Like this 5/225.  This would be 5 reps with 225 pounds.
  • I count up the total work sets and note it up by the day and date with a circle around it
  • I would make note of pin or rack position if different than normal or if I am trying a different exercise

I do all this so I don't have to remember what I did last time or weeks ago.  I have so much else to think about in my life, that trying to think of all this every workout is a total waste of my mental energy.

The left side is reserved for various notes.  Sometimes I have a lot of notes, sometimes none.

Examples of What I Make Note of on the Left Side of the Book

  • Remember a towel
  • When and where I was on a trip
  • People I meet at the gym
  • Math to figure out the weight on the bar
  • How much more I am lifting from months ago
  • Reason I did not do a particular lift or it did not go well.. This might be something like...knees too sore to squat
  • If I have an injury.  For example...Left shoulder not good on Sunday
  • Been taking turmeric pills and they seem to be helping my sore joints
  • Right elbow still not good enough to bench
  • Wyoming Trip
  • Labor Day party weekend
  • Concentrate on lowering the curls slowly.  Eccentric
  • Lay off the pull-downs for awhile.  They hurt my left shoulder
  • EZ curl bar weighs 25 pounds
  • Sick Tuesday

These notes really help you pin-point problems and the reasons your workouts might not be going as well as you'd like.  When you're sick, injured, tired, hungover, or worn out from some reason, of course your workouts will suffer.

Now you know why and you can avoid beating yourself up over it and move on.

Final Notes on the Pen to Use

This is the pen I use to track my workouts. It is my favorite pen for everything. I keep one in my planner book and a bunch handy for all my writing needs.

The right type of pen is critical to taking notes.  You don't want a pen with a removable cap.  You will always be losing it on the gym floor or your gym bag.  It will leak ink on your towel or run out of ink at the wrong time.

Get a blue fine point ball point pen. 

The kind where you click the handle to move the writing tip in and out.  Spend a little more on the pen. You will have money available because you spent so little on the composition book.

This type of pen has the little spring loaded handle so it clips to your notepad during your workout. 

There is nothing as frustrating as trying to pick up a tiny pen off the floor after you have done some extremely heavy squatting or deadlifts where every move is difficult.

So get busy on your the most important thing...your life.  Stop at the store, buy a Composition Book and the correct pen and start tracking your workouts.  You will thank me for your progress.

› Tracking Your Workouts