“What gets measured, gets managed”
Strength training, nutrition, and recovery, work in tandem to shape and develop the human body. Each is significantly less impactful without the others and even when all bases are covered you need the ability to adapt to your ever-changing environment in order to be successful. Whether you are a beginner or experienced athlete there are certain behaviors that will help you to optimize your time and energy, helping you achieve your results while avoiding training plateaus and setbacks. Here is why keeping records of your training, nutrition, and sleep will keep you on the gain train.
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
I am willing to bet that you keep plenty of records. Tax returns, pay stubs, journals, calendars, and portfolios are all examples or records that we keep for review. Records allow us to review material, identify patterns, and create consistency or inconsistency. However when it comes to your training you likely keep little or no records. Why is that? You certainly keep a record of your investments. So why invest your time and energy in training without a way in which to measure it?
By recording your training you are creating a blueprint for steady progress. As a strength coach, I can identify one behavior that separates the successful athlete from the unsuccessful athlete. CONSISTENCY. Consistency is king and those who have a plan and stick to it tend to have best and most permanent results.
Having a plan is important, but even the best program is useless without consistent action and evaluation. Therefore, recording variables such as reps, sets, loads, rest periods, day of the week, time of day, amount of sleep, and pre and post-workout meal is the key to consistent progress. By doing this we make it possible to evaluate our training and easily make adjustments when needed. For example, if you complete 6 weeks of your training program and you are achieving the results you desire, you can easily continue your success. Just keep doing what you’re doing. By recording these variables you have essentially created your blueprint for success. Now it’s as easy as repeating your behavior.
On the contrary if you fail to record your training variables and behaviors, it becomes a guessing game. After a successful training phase you are left shooting in the dark, trying to duplicate your training from memory (which isn’t as reliable as you think it is) or worse, you were unsuccessful and are stuck trying to make training and behavioral adjustments without the ability to evaluate what went wrong or what could be improved (e.g. diet, training frequency, sleep quality).
WHERE TO START
For those of us that prefer pad and paper start by printing out your training program/ plan and record you training variables here. A simple legal pad or notebook will work for recording food and sleep and is easy to carry with you and refer to.
For the more tech savvy athlete, an Excel sheet or Word document that you can access on-the-go can be very useful. Get creative with your organization but make sure it is easy to collate, that way modifications can be made whenever and wherever necessary.