When you step foot into any gym it’s likely you may see a person with a pen and paper, writing down everything they do – every weight of every set, of every rep. It doesn’t matter if this person has the biggest or the smallest build of everyone in the room, they’re doing a very beneficial thing and that is fitness journaling.
Why should you journal your progress? There’s actually a ton of reasons to track what you do in the gym and in the kitchen. It will help you to achieve consistent results. In this blog post we’ll go over the process.
In the Gym
When journaling your gym day, you want to be as specific and detailed as possible. You’ll want to write down the exercises you’re performing and the weight for each rep. This is important since you can always look back to where you started, along with knowing where to start from.
Standard Grip Bench Press
3 sets x 8 reps @ 165 lbs
Failed rep 7 last set.
The example shows the exercise, sets and reps, and the rep you failed on. The last part is probably the most important since this will show you how to set up your next workout. If using a linear program, then you will know that once you’ve hit all reps of every set for 3 workouts, then you should raise the weight.
When it comes to someone a little more advanced, they can start using this to track their total volume, and percentages of max weight. These are both good to know so you can adjust for maximum hypertrophy (adding volume) or increase intensity (lifting a higher max percentage).
While it is important to track everything that you do in the gym, it is just as important to track what you do in the kitchen.
In the Kitchen
When someone is serious about making progress in the gym, or in health in general, they will use their fitness journal to track macro/micronutrients, when they eat, how much they eat, etc.
You may have heard of macro counting, it’s a practice that definitely works. As for micro counting, that is more for wellness and wellbeing, meaning, you can still see good results from focusing on mainly macro nutrients.
Each meal should have what the food is, the amount eaten, and the macronutrients/calories.
2 oz spinach
3 mini peppers
Protein: 32 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams
Fats: 25 grams
Doing this for every meal you eat, will help keep you on track for whatever your daily values in everything that you are tracking. Most nutritional information on food can be found on the packaging, but if you’re having trouble finding it, you can use apps like MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary which have a large database of food, to help.
As for tracking micronutrients, it is best to focus on things that will affect how you look and feel when not eating or training. A couple big ones to focus on are potassium, salt, and most vitamins. Making sure you have enough of these and not too much of another, will not only help you feel better throughout the day, but it will keep your body run optimally and get you the best results.
Someone who is focusing on aesthetics should also be tracking their body measurements and weight along with the exercises and diet. Body measurements could be body fat percentage, to the circumference of your arms and legs. Tracking these, and weight are especially important for dieting too since you should base your daily calories or macros on your metabolic rate and weight. It can also be pretty cool to know you’re getting bigger/leaner even though you don’t see it immediately in the mirror.
It can be discouraging for many people when they don’t see or feel any results from their labor. Keeping things like progress pictures, or anything motivational can help this. Even if both of those things aren’t your cup of tea, it can be beneficial to look back at previous workouts, weights, and progressions.
Fitness journaling has been traditionally done by hand, but now that there’s an app for everything, you can use your smartphone to do all of the tracking for you.
Journals are all about tracking what you’re doing to make sure you’re actually making results, whether the journal is for the gym, tracking what you eat from day to day, motivation, or for body measurements, I highly encourage you to keep a journal. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a pro, this process is ideal for anyone.