Whether you’re brand new to working out or a seasoned fitness enthusiast looking to up your game, you might have wondered about the best ways to monitor your progress. That’s where a workout journal comes in.
In today’s post, we will show you how to start a workout journal and discuss some of the ways it can help you to reach your goals.
How to Start a Workout Journal
There are two main ways to keep a workout journal: on paper or electronically. We like the paper version because writing things down by hand has a host of additional benefits, but the most important thing is to choose the method that works best for you.
You can buy purpose-designed workout journals online or at your local stationery store. Or, if you prefer to keep things simple, an ordinary notebook will work just as well. Your digital workout journal could be stored in a word processor, a notes app, or using an online system such as Simple Workout Log.
Your workout journal will only benefit you if you use it consistently, so choose a format you’re comfortable with.
What to Include in Your Workout Journal
Precisely what you include in your journal will depend on your fitness goals and habits. Here are a few things you may wish to include:
- Type, duration, and intensity of exercise performed.
- Distance, time, and average speed for runs, walks, swims, etc.
- Reps and sets performed for strength exercises.
- What you ate and drank immediately pre- and post-workout.
- How you felt during and after the session.
- Your weight and/or body fat percentage.
- Your sleep habits.
It’s best to complete your workout journal as soon after a session as possible. That way, you won’t have forgotten anything when you come to write it down and you will build up the most accurate picture of your habits.
How Your Workout Journal Can Change Your Life
Now that you know what a workout journal is and how to start one, here are five ways it can revolutionize your fitness routine:
You’ll See Your Progress
When you’re trying to reach a goal, seeing your own progress is incredibly motivating. Do you sometimes feel frustrated that you’re not progressing as fast as you would like? If so, look back through your workout journal and you’ll see how far you’ve already come.
How’s that for a self-esteem boost?
You’ll Push Yourself Harder
This is basic psychology at work. If you know you’re going to record your workout afterwards, you’ll be more willing to push yourself and less likely to slack off when the going gets tough.
It might sound silly, but just the prospect of recording a bad workout can inspire you to go a little bit harder so that you can instead record a session you’re proud of.
You’ll Notice Patterns (Both Good and Bad)
Do you consistently have your best workouts in the morning? Do you find that you perform best later in the day, or after eating something with protein, or when you’ve had at least 8 hours of sleep? This is all valuable information that will help you optimize your workouts and learn more about yourself.
You might also notice patterns such as finding that you experience pain after particular activities. This gives you valuable data to help you address those issues. For example, if you often find yourself suffering from wrist pain after a weight training session, you might wear a wrist sleeve to protect the area while you workout.
You’ll Be More Focused
The key to achieving a big goal is to break it down into lots of smaller steps. By keeping a workout journal, you’ll have a clearer visualization of those steps and how they feed into your larger goals. You’ll also be able to watch yourself getting closer to those goals.
For example, let’s say you’ve never run before but you want to complete a marathon next year. You might start by completing a Couch-to-5K program. You would then progress to longer runs, gradually upping your distance each week, as well as dedicating sessions to working on your speed.
A workout journal is a fantastic tool for aiding your focus and ensuring that your efforts are pushing you closer to your end goals.
You’ll Get a Buzz Every Time You Use It
Do you feel a sense of satisfaction every time you cross something off your to-do list? If so, you’ll likely get a similar buzz from using your workout journal. Writing down something we’ve achieved or crossing something off a list gives us a sense of accomplishment that causes a rush of dopamine—often called the “happy hormone.”
In other words, it’s a positive feedback loop. You work out and write about it in your journal, which makes you feel good, which makes you want to work out more… and so on. And we think that’s something worth celebrating.