You Can Only Know Where you’re going if you know where you’ve been
Logging your workout on a piece of paper could be the most important part of your workout. Building your body is not easy, and in order to get results you need amazing discipline, motivation and a method. Going to the gym alone can easily turn into a going nowhere routine fast if you don’t keep track of what you’re doing.
I just got back from the gym today and remembered something big. If fact I already knew that but I am amazed by how fast we forget. I remembered how important it is to take notes. More precisely, how important it is to have a simple, straightforward method or plan; a long term plan. In other words, you need to get to the gym and have a task to do. We need something or someone who pushes us. You either hire someone to push you, or you push yourself. In order to push yourself you need a task list and that becomes your boss.
This may seem obvious but most people just don’t do it because it’s boring and nerdy. If you are a seasoned weight lifter you might not need it. But if you are a regular mortal like the rest of us, you need a good workout plan.
The typical scenario of someone who’s just decided to start working out is familiar. They go to the gym, and start trying out a few machines, run on the treadmill and walk in and out the weight room. The guys who decide to concentrate on weights just start to lift randomly and try different things. Within a few minutes they are gone. Its because something in your body is telling you that weight lifting is “not normal”.
The reason is simple. Our bodies are masters in economizing energy. You have that in your genetic program. Your natural tendency is to do less and save energy. You might want to push yourself but sooner or later you end up doing less and less, when the goal should be: do more and more. You just have to be locked into a task. You have to educate your body.
If you don’t push yourself to accomplish a task at the gym you might as well stay home. The only way you’ll get the full benefit of working out is if you push yourself enough that your body needs to create more muscles. Only in this way you’ll get the hormonal and metabolic changes that reverse diabetes and increase insulin sensitivity in muscles and liver.
The idea behind taking notes is that you know what you did the day before. You also know how many sets and how many repetitions you did. So the next day you can do the same or add a little more weights. What happens is that this is how you communicate with your body. Your body knows exactly what you did and when you create a challenge, it responds to this challenge producing growth hormones and more muscles. Without this tracking technique there is no progress and you just fall back into the “natural way” which is to do nothing. The other benefit is that you have less chances of hurting yourself.
As humans have a thing called biorhythm. What that means is that we feel energetic some days and less in others. This is the recipe to hurt yourself because you might underestimate your strength or weakness and overdue. If you don’t keep track of the weights you lift you might fluctuate wildly between workouts. You lift very well one day, and the next workout you don’t feel so strong even though not realizing; you load too much and try to repeat your good day just to find yourself with a strained muscle or worst a ligament injury.
To sum up here are some advantages of keeping a log:
- Protect yourself from injury by creating steady and gradual weight increases
- Gives you peace of mind as you walk into the gym: you know your task and what to do
- Gives you control over what exercises you do: you don’t need to do the same thing over and over
- It teaches your body by adding progressively more weights without hurting you
- You can actually track your progress
- Helps to keep you motivated
How to find a good exercise log or method
There are several books available. I recommend the series called “New Rules of Lifting” by Lou Schuler and Alwyn Cosgrove. It has everything you need to konw. These books are specially fit for the person who never lifted and also if you are a little older; it is good for anyone. These books will explain how to use the logs and how to get results. There are also a ton of apps that could be helpful.
Image credit: flickr.com
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