Keep a detailed log book of your training program. According to Tommy Kono, the Michael Jordan of the sport of weightlifting, there is no single better training aid. In his words: "the palest ink is better than the best of memories". A well kept training journal will allow you to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of your training program and help to set short-term goals.
No matter if your arms are thirteen inches or nineteen inches in girth, a training log keeps you on track for long-term success. Honesty is critical to derive success from a training log. Only record the reps done in proper form.
I once was asked by an intern trainer to go over his training log to help him design better training programs for himself. I would see things like 100 lbs done for 5.3 reps. I asked him how can you do 5.3 reps. He replied well I did 5 reps complete reps, then I did only a third of the rep.. .I then asked with a serious look on my face "How can you be sure it was not 5.32 or 5.38 reps?".
I could instantly read the anxiety in his eyes indicating a nine-fold increase of cortisol from the perceived screw-up. In my usual diplomatic style, I continued "You are pregnant or you are not. There is no in-between. Next time, record just 5 reps please." The poor guy was probably producing more cortisol wondering if he had done 5.2 or 5.3 reps.
Needless to say, once I related the story to my hockey star client Al MacInnis, he promptly assigned the intern the nickname "5.2", which stuck on to this day.
When using the training diary as a tool, make sure that training conditions were the same. For example, rushing through a workout shortens the rest intervals, and thus makes a comparison with a normal workout difficult.
The training diary helps me tremendously as a strength coach on deciding how to orientate the training from phase to phase for every single client. At my training facility our training diaries are computerized so that we have ongoing statistical analyses of the training progress and effectiveness. This methodological log keeping, with the help of a brilliant , mathematician has helped me developed structural balance norms and optimal and precise volume and intensity prescriptions for specific lifts.
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