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Do I REALLY Need To Keep A Training Log? - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

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Do I REALLY Need To Keep A Training Log? - Tucson Personal Trainer Blog

By: Jerry Trubman - Owner and Founder

“The palest ink is better than the best memory”

Dan John

We frequently get questions regarding how/why to track fitness progress, so I thought I’d take a moment to discuss that in today’s post. Enjoy!

First off, I am a strong believer in ‘what gets measured, gets managed’. So, whether it’s workouts, nutrition, household budget, or certain metrics in one’s place of employment, it is absolutely critical to track what’s important. Dave Ramsey says that if you’re not operating on a written household budget, you are just not that serious about getting your financial house in order yet. I feel the same way about training programs.

“Shouldn’t my coach be doing all that for me? Isn’t that what I pay them to do?”

In some cases, yes, this can be true. I, however, am of the opinion that one of the primary tasks of a coach is ‘teacher’. If a teacher did all the homework for the student, we wouldn’t have a particularly well-educated student, would we? I feel like my job is being done well when a student gets to a point in their training where they no longer need me, and being able to take charge of one’s own training progress is a critical step in that process.

I understand there are coaches/trainers that track everything for their people, and that’s fine I suppose. But even in those situations, I still think the student needs to be very connected to those numbers, regardless of whether or not they are doing the actual work of tracking it themselves.

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“What is the best way to track?”

Ultimately, the best way to track is whatever method is easiest for you, and allows you to be as detailed as possible. The better of a log you keep, the more of a gold mine it becomes 5 years from now when you’re at a sticking point. You can go back through those old logs looking for clues.

This means… not only should you be jotting down exercises, reps, sets, weights used, etc. You should also make additional notes. For example, if you’re a little under the weather but decided to train anyway, write that down! There are countless times where I’ve come into the gym feeling like crud, but ended up lifting pretty well. And there have been other times where I’ve come in feeling awesome, but didn’t lift well.

There are many fancy ways to keep track of progress electronically. Marie uses My Fitness Pal for herself and her nutrition coaching clients, and there are dozens of fitness tracking apps out there. My only advice here is to make sure that you keep that data backed up somewhere other than your device or hard drive. If something happens to that piece of technology, you don’t want to lose all your stuff!

Personally, I’m a paper and pen kind of guy. I have old training journals from years back with old training sessions. Throughout the year I go back and look at them. It’s pretty awesome to see how one grows in their fitness journey over time.

The moral to this story: Use the method that allows you to keep the most accurate data, not the one some random blogger on the internet (me) tells you to use.

Tracking Food Is The Key To Diet Success

One of the items that people seem to be the least disciplined in, is the tracking of food. I need to brag about my wife here for a moment… Marie has been tracking almost everything that has gone into her mouth for as long as I’ve known her.

This may sound neurotic to some of you, but there are two important things here: One, Marie has suffered a lifetime of difficulty with food/diets. The system that she has discovered is what keeps her on track. It’s a small price to pay for avoiding the years of yo-yo dieting and unhealthy eating habits she had in the past.

Second, when someone has been tracking food for that long, they get REALLY fast and REALLY good at it. This is no longer a time-consuming task for her. She has many of her favorite meals saved in the app and is incredibly fast at entering her data for the day. It’s funny how she has to listen to clients complain about tracking food for a week or two… she’s been doing it for years! It’s just not that hard!

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Photo Food Journal – The No-Excuse Way To Track

Let’s say you’re one of those people who just doesn’t like tracking their food in an app or journal… there’s another easy way: Simply snap a photo of everything you eat, right before you eat it. At the end of each week, upload the photos into a folder (or send to your coach/accountability buddy if you have one) and review them. It almost becomes its own diet plan. Most people who start doing this amazingly start eating better…

Whatever You Do…

No matter what method you choose, the key here is to START. Start today! Will it be perfect on day one? Absolutely not. This is a skill… it gets better with time and practice. And the rewards are well worth the time investment.

Until Next Time,

Jerry Trubman is a coach, clinician, author, blogger, and powerlifting state champion. With over two decades of lifting experience, he has devoted himself to seeking out better answers, and distilling them into practical programs that produce great results. Jerry has coached "Team Protocol" to 4 National Powerlifting Championships in the 100% Raw federation. He writes the internationally-read blog, “The Healthy Addiction” and lives in Tucson, Arizona with his wife, Marie, and dog, Asher. To subscribe to his blog, click here.

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