So with the gyms hopefully reopening in the coming weeks (fingers crossed for April 12th) and some sort of structured training within the box about to start up again, I wanted to talk about one of the most useful but sometimes underrated gym aids you can get and that’s the Training diary.
A Training Diary in its simplest form can be some sort of record of your training sessions which allows you to monitor and track your progress from one session to another, over weeks, months and even years. You could record every movement completed and every rep achieved or you could pick out the key parts and track those accordingly.
You can write daily entries going into loads of detail regarding states of readiness, muscle soreness and general fatigue or you can keep it quite general just focusing on the key performance indicators which are important to you such as your Snatch and Clean and Jerk numbers, your 5km run time or max calories on the Assault bike in 2mins.
It can contain your personal bests and your workout times and even missed attempts or goals to achieve. It can be a chance to reflect on your mood, energy levels and your recovery between sessions.
You can turn your Training Diary into a tool that best supports your personal motivation and your own goals and use it to support you on your individual fitness journey.
- Track personal best weights (1, 3 + 5 rep max etc) to allow you to progressively overload that movement overtime and continue to improve
- Tracking weights lifted also allows you to complete movements at the correct percentage or stimulus for that given workout
- Track gymnastic movement totals like maximum unbroken pull-ups or press-ups allowing you to see progress overtime through the available scales
- Gives you a chance to reflect on why a movement or session was successful or what wasn’t and look at steps to hit that training sweet spot more often
- Gives you an accurate snapshot of your fitness big picture and allow you to spot patterns which are working for you or areas that may require improvement
- Serves as a motivation aid when you look back and see how far you have come and fully appreciate your progress over time
- Allows you to plan sessions or additional work to improve your individual areas of strengths and weaknesses such as warm-ups, cool-downs or mobility which sometimes can be the first things we neglect and these can often give us great returns on our minimal investments
If you are the type that wants to dive a little deeper then here is some example questions you might ask yourself while completing your diary.
- What are my goals, short and long term? What are the steps to achieve them and milestones to hit throughout the progress?
- Am I progressing in the areas that I want to prioritize and if not what are the steps I need to complete to see that improvement?
- What do I want my fitness big picture to look like i.e. how many sessions each week/month and what type?
- When should I plan in rest days looking at the volume and intensities between sessions and weeks?
- What is my readiness level for my next session?
- What should my recovery look like and what will be its focus?
- What am I proud of from today’s or this weeks sessions?
- What did I struggle with and why and how can I avoid this happening again?
- What is my aim for tomorrow’s or next weeks sessions
Training diaries can be a great training tool that have many uses and depending on your goals can be used in a multitude of ways. Although I’m a fan of a physical diary, all of the above can be accomplished with a variety of applications on your phone. Just double check what happens with your data if you delete the app or change phones and make sure there’s a way of transferring it with you so that you can maintain your records for as long as you would like.
Something that Coach Lucy mentioned to me when we were discussing this recently was that not all progress will be linear across all training types and do not be disheartened if your numbers do not show progress across them all. Often we naturally have a particular focus within our training which can impact other elements and this is natural within our own training journey. This could manifest in your upper-body pulling numbers improving as your current short term goal is to achieve your first pull-up but your lower body endurance numbers are plateauing or dropping slightly.
Within the world of functional fitness there are many hats that we wear and if you decide to focus on one over the other, some areas will drop off and this is to be expected and certainly not worried about. Again use the training diary and take a step back from the day to day sessions and look at the bigger picture and reassess what your goals are and your progress towards them. Finally remember to enjoy your journey and “the process” and make sure you don’t become overly goal focused. Use your training diary to encourage this and reap the benefits. Can’t wait to see everyone in the gym very soon.