Five reasons why you need to track workouts? Actually, you need only one, but there are quite a few benefits that you will find if you start with your very next trip to the gym.
I’ve started to do so, thanks to Brandon, who gave me this project to work on! Now, since I also abhor article-spinning or reproducing articles by merely reading stuff from other websites, I decided to try this out as I work out too with basic home gym equipment.
5 Reasons to Track Workouts
1. Progress indicator The first reason for tracking a workout routine is that it is a clear indicator of progress. Let me illustrate with an example:
In the abs workout, I used to struggle with abdominal bicycles. It’s the toughest exercise in the world if you have to complete 1 X 20 reps at one stretch, especially if you have creaking joints like I do. So, apart from just listing the exercises… say, 4 to 5 minutes staircase jogging, 7 stretch (warm up) exercises… I also made a note of the exercises that were really tough and that needed to be executed slowly.
So, in my journal, I’ve made a note clearly mentioning that the abdominal bicycles need to be executed 5 reps at a time with 1 minute rests in between. By the end of the first week, I was doing about 10 reps and then taking a minute of rest. And now, I easily execute 20 reps in a row without unnecessarily straining my body or risking injury.
2. Injury prevention And this leads me to the second reason, which is making notes of your body’s ability to handle the entire workout, and so enabling you to make adjustments by pacing it out accordingly in subsequent workouts. Using the same example, by pacing out the abs bicycles, I found that I wasn’t overdoing the exercises or burning out, but slowly building and increasing my strength and stamina with each set.
3. Body composition changes The third advantage I found from maintaining this journal is that I was able to document how my body was responding to the workouts, which builds motivation to continue working out.
I know this might sound dumb and rather simple, but I write down changes like ‘body fat around my waist has reduced further since the last workout’, ‘shoulders are broadening out-Mom said so’ and ‘my body is beginning to tighten up’ with references to the body part that is tightening out as compared to before.
4. Workout organization If you use several manuals for different segments of workouts like I do (don’t ask me why - there’s a method to my madness), making integrated notes of the workout as a whole helps you ‘put it all together’ in your head, leading to the next step of ‘improvisation’.
Once you do this, you can adjust the routine by changing around the exercises within each segment or even increasing the number of reps or duration of the exercise according to your long term plans. What this did for me is that I don’t need to refer to a hundred manuals when I start my workout as this ‘tactile’ method of learning helped me memorize the entire routine.
5. Goal-setting Finally, and most importantly, this document will give you direction and helps you set clear objectives. You can plan your exercise routine as you transition from the beginner to the intermediate stage and then to the expert level.
When you set goals and deadlines for hitting certain marks, this journal will help you on a daily basis to transition to the next stage of your plan. For example, I now know that I have to move on to an ‘intermediate’ abs routine in the next two months which will help me build a six-pack.
For now, I have to stick to reducing the fat around my waist and in the chest area, as well as work on light dumbbell exercises to get into ‘shape’, after which I will proceed to the intermediate stage which involves the next level of ‘shaping your body’.
This ensures that you don’t try to do too much or set unrealistic expectations about improvements, which I think is the biggest cause of losing motivation to exercise regularly.
Do you track workouts? If so, what's your favorite workout log or method of recording?