Keeping a Training Log

The importance of keeping a training log cannot be stressed enough, if one wants to take full advantage of training time and energy. Its easy to plan individual workouts for different goals - maximum strength, technical proficiency, muscle hypertrophy, etc. But compiling individual workouts into a medium and long term training program takes thought and work. In order to analyze training stimuli and the body's adaptation to them, one must have a comprehensive history of workouts and commentary on them. Providing this training history is the task of the training log.

The exact format of the log will be defined by the individual, but there are some particular pieces of data which all training logs should contain. The log should contain an entry for each workout, what was performed in the workout, and the general volume and intensity of the activities performed. With just these few pieces of information, it will be easy for one to realize how much one has trained within a given time period. I like to measure volume and intensity on a one to five scale. A training entry for a workout might look like this:

warm up - yoga movements

dyno practice

maximum strength
barbell biceps curl - 75x4, 75x5, 75x5
barbell triceps extension - 75x3, 75x4, 75x4

strength endurance
bouldering 4x4 - brown V6, pink V4, red/purple V4, blue V4

it was very hot in the gym, also body didn't want to warm up, felt good once warm, slipped off holds during 4x4's due to heat and poor route selection - brown is slippery
volume - 3/5, intensity - 5/5

Here I've also included some prose commentary on the workout. Additionally if I've got some soreness or an injury, I track pain level on a one to ten scale. This is very valuable in detecting when an injury is healing or getting worse.

Simply keeping a log puts one in the frame of mind to think about the big training picture. Trends will start to become obvious and even predictable. It will start to become easy to plan a training program for reaching specific goals. Training at a level which is both sustainable and sufficient for improvement will become easy. Avoiding injury, working through injury, and just knowning when to rest, will be as simple as analyzing the training log for simple trends in volume and intensity of training, and pain levels.

A comprehensive training program sets short term (weeks to a month), medium term (a month to six months), and long term (years) goals. Training cycles are planned to reach these goals, and performance is measured and evaluated. None of this is possible without the training log. The training log is the foundation to a serious training program, and is an absolute necessity if you want to reach your potential.

Google Notebook is a great tool for keeping a training log! I have several notebooks related to training here, one for goals and a tick list, one is simply an index of training resources and information, and another is the training log. With the log, I keep each week as one note.