6 Logging Laws

Not getting the results you want in the gym? It’s probably because you aren’t training; you’re just working out.  Start logging your workouts and actually care about the weight you put up.  Logging your progress is a true testament to your commitment to the iron game.

Luckily, exercises in the gym have always come quite naturally to me.  From a young age I could watch a video online or read a description of a new exercise and go out and attempt it.  I would get the form down and be able to add weight quickly – bottom line is I was getting results fast.  This made me happy, but also had a negative effect: I didn’t really care about what I was doing in the gym.  I would go in with little to no plan and just bust my ass.  I felt good after my workouts, but I was experiencing diminishing returns; I was plateauing.

Logging your workouts isn’t hard and is well worth the effort.  We like to think our memory serves us well but forgetting whether you threw on an extra 5lbs a week ago is an important factor in getting results.

The best thing about keeping a log is that once you start, you won’t stop.  I don’t know anyone who has begun keeping track of what they do in the gym, only to realize it’s not worth the effort.  This is a good sign, and a main indicator of why you should log.

6 Logging Laws

1.   Log everything

Warmup sets, stretches carried out prior to workout, foam rolling during workouts, sets, reps, etc.  Let’s say you feel great one day and hit a PR.  Wouldn’t you want to know exactly what you did during that session?  It would be pretty crappy if you couldn’t replicate it because you forgot what you did.

2.   Have a plan 

…but remember it’s not  set in stone.  There are loads of things that can come up between the time you write your workout and when you complete the exercises.  My body varies in terms of how it feels.  Because of this, sometimes I’ll write down my first big exercise, complete it and see how I feel, then jot down my next few.

The important thing with logging is not that you feel obligated to complete the exact workout you jotted down, but that you have a record of what you did.

3.   Deload/rest

Use your log as a source for determining when to deload or take a few days off if need be.  It’s easy to enjoy the great gains we experience in the gym and forget about how long we’ve gone without rest.  In our 20’s a lot of us feel awesome 95% of the time and that’s why we feel we can push it, but something is bound to happen over time.

4.   Include notes

in the margin or somewhere else in your log book.  These notes can be anything – from “last rep garbage” to “felt good”.  Some days your page may be filled, others, maybe not so much.

5.   Don’t forget the date

Write down the day of the week of your training session.  This may seem like a given, or maybe you think it doesn’t matter because a day in the gym is a day in the gym.  It takes two seconds to throw a “Fri” at the top of the page.  Looking back at your training over time, you may realize a pattern or two.  Perhaps your Friday evening sessions weren’t very good compared to other days of the week.  Was your mind on the few beers you feel you deserve after the gym?

Some people have more effective workouts in the evening than in the morning, or vice versa.  For this reason, it may be worth jotting down whether you trained in the morning, afternoon, or evening.

6.   Add Adjustments  

Record any adjustments, or anything out of the ordinary.  Slightly altering your grip midway through an exercise is an important example.  Maybe you had to cut your rest times short during your last exercise because you were running late.

Logging your training brings you to the next level.  I’ll respect you more and so will others in the gym, but more importantly you will notice the difference.  It’s up to you: are you going to train or head to the gym for another ‘workout’? 


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  1. Deloading Wisely | Jeremy Smith - November 5, 2012

    […] a look back in your log book (which you should be keeping, and following these steps).  You may find you’ve been doing tonnes of bilateral training (i.e. back squats) and have […]

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