The Essential Piece Of Equipment You Need To Have
Author- Stephen Griffith C.S.C.S. Pn1
The most important piece of equipment isn’t a barbell, a dumbell, or a kettlebell.
It’s not the squat rack or the pull bar.
It’s certainly not that twisty ab machine.
It’s your workout log.
We feel so strongly about this at Fitness Made Clear we give all of our clients one on their first day.
What we’ve found is that students in our program who use a workout log are more motivated, have better adherence to the program, and get better results than those who don’t.
But at Fitness Made Clear we’re all about equipping our students with the tools they need to see progress over the long term. Particularly when they are no longer working with one of our coaches.
We’ve found is the impact of a workout log on success is even greater after our students finish working with us.
The students who’d we’d given workout logs to were substantially more likely to adhere to their program than those who didn’t. They also reported better results, motivation, and self - efficacy.
Life happens, and people fall off the wagon. But those with the logs reported feeling less lost, less stressed and more confident in their ability to resume training.
If you’re not using a workout log you are missing out an excellent opportunity to focus your energy and keep you motivated and accountable. Don’t fret. Getting and using a workout log is simple and I will walk you through how.
First, I want to go over what a workout log is and how it can make such a difference.
What is a workout log?
A workout log is simply a place to record and track your workouts and progress in the gym.
It can be in the form of a physical notebook, a spreadsheet, or a digital program or app like the one we use for our online coaching students.
Whichever version you choose, a workout log should offer:
A place to keep your training plan or program
A place to log each of your workouts including exercises, sets, reps, and additional notes.
And a place to track measurements such as weight, body composition, personal best, or physical assessments.
How does it work?
They key to success in the gym is showing up consistently and doing a little more each time. A workout log is beneficial helps you do just that.
Having a log forces you to formalize your plan and brings direction to your time in the gym.
Instead of wandering around the gym trying to figure out what to do next your log will tell you what exercises to do.
When you get distracted, a quick glance at the log lets you know what to do next.
It’ll tell you what exercises to do and how many sets and reps you should do.
The less time you spend meandering around the gym trying to decide what’s next, the more you’ll get done and the sooner you’ll see results.
Success is the best motivator, however, when most people exercise they don’t give themselves an opportunity to see success.
By tracking your workouts you’ can literally see the progress you’re making. You can look in your log and see that 2 weeks ago you could only lift the 20lb weight twice, and now you can do it 6 times.
You can see your waist numbers go down, or that your biceps are an inch bigger than a month ago.
Not only can you see your success, but your previous workouts provide the benchmark for your next workout. If you see you did 8 reps last workout, then your goal will be to do 9 reps this workout.
This helps you push yourself harder, make progress, and celebrate each victory along the way.
Each victory will keep you motivated to stay consistent and leave you looking forward to your next workout.
They help you break plateaus
During your training, expect your progress will stall. For many hitting a plateau is frustrating and demotivating but having a training log gives you a resource to determine the best next steps.
Maybe you need an easy week because you were training hard. Maybe, it’s time to shift to a lower rep high weight scheme. In each case, a workout log can help guide your decisions.
How to start your own workout log?
As I mentioned above, a workout log can come in many forms, a notebook, a binder, a spreadsheet, or even a digital platform.
The most important question you need to ask before you choose is “Will I use It?”
If you will not use it, then there’s no point.
As a gift, someone gave me a Mindbender workout log. This log had everything. Meals, glasses of water, measurements, workouts, cardio, and on and on.
I used it once and never again. Why? Because it was just too much. I felt overwhelmed.
It’s why I say the simpler you go the better.
With this said I will give you 3 options.
Option 1: Make Your Own
The advantages of making your own log are that it’s cheap and versatile. You can customize it as you please.
To do so all you need to do is take a trip to your local dollar store and buy a notebook you don’t mind taking to the gym with you.
An 8in by 5in size works well for this.
Next, you get to write in the pages. How you organize your notebook is up to you.
Here are a few examples of pages you might include
A Goal Page - This page is nice for writing your short term, medium term, and long-term goals. You can also adapt our SMART goals worksheet for this purpose as well which you can find included in the following section.
A Measurements Page - This page is ideal for keeping track of key performance indicators such as your weight, circumference, Personal records, 40-yard dash, Vertical Jump, FMS Score, or any measurement you feel is valuable and pertains to your goals.
List the names of the measurements in one column on the left and make several columns to the right. Each with a date.
A Workout Log Sheet - The most important of the pages is the one with which you will keep track of your training.
For this, I like to keep it simple. I have one row for exercises, and then several rows for sets, reps, and weight. It may include any cardio done for the sessions, and then at the bottom a section for any notes on the session.
Option 2: Buy a Log
This options great if you like a more professional feel. There are lots of logs out there you can buy and they all offer different sections or information you can record.
As a fan of simplicity and frugal by nature, my favorite log is made by bodybuilder.com. For 6 dollars it’s simple, clean, and has only the essentials.
Option 3: Print and make a binder
I prefer notebooks, but binders can offer better organizational ability. For a binder you can keep many workouts in one place, you can divide by sections, and also easily remove and scan workouts when they are done. You may even combine it with a nutrition and recipe section. The possibilities are endless.
Below is a PDF copy of our workout log sheet and SMART Goals exercise for you to use. You can many other sheets online available for download.
Option 4: Use a Digital Exercise App
For those who don’t mind using their phones, a digital app can be a good choice. The advantages to a digital app are that more analysis can be done on the data you enter. Many apps provide progress charts for example.
Outside of the digital platform we use for our coaching programs I cannot comment much on which app will be best for you. However, here is a great article by Lifewire that breaks down the 10 best apps and each of their pros and cons.
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