You’ve probably heard this expression before: “What gets measured, gets better”. It’s something I tell my team and co-workers in the office, it’s applicable for budgeting your expenses at home, and it’s very appropriate for workouts.
Do you write down the weights you lifted at the gym, the mileage you ran last night, and the yards you swam in the pool?
It takes a little more time after each workout to write it down, but the effort is worth it! Logging your workouts helps:
- Keep you accountable, either to yourself or others. Checking workouts off your “to-do” list feels good and helps keep you motivated! Take it up a notch and log your workouts in a place others can see it – peer pressure in a good way! Keep reading for some online tools to help!
- Set benchmarks for future training, so you challenge yourself appropriately. Know when to do more…or less! What weights are challenging you now; is it time to increase? Ready to step up your long run?
- See trends in your workouts, so you can listen to your body even better. Noticing your times are getting slower or you’re not able to lift the same weights…maybe you need to back off a bit. Or you might notice that your best workouts are on Saturday afternoons and you should plan your most challenging workouts then.
What Should You Record?
What information should you record? Although this may be different based on your goals, I typically recommend:
- weights (for strength)
- time (for cardio)
- comments about how you felt
Where Should You Log?
Anywhere you will actually do it! If you’re like me, this is not always easy to stick to. I logged my workouts for years, but I fell off the wagon after the New Orleans Marathon last year and have been struggling to be consistent myself. That’s one reason I started sharing my weekly training here – my blog version of a training plan for accountability!
So pick a place that works for you. A few options are:
Paper and Pen: the classic paper and pen approach still works very well! The only downside to this approach is that trending is a little more work, since there are no automated reports to fall back on.
- Put a calendar on your fridge where you write down your plan and check it off as you go.
- Bring a spiral notebook with you to the gym and track your exercises, weights, and reps. This is what I do for strength training!
Online Tools: this is a pretty convenient option, with computers, tablets, and smartphones! Many tools have mobile and desktop versions, so you can access it anywhere.
- TrainingPeaks: This is the software I use with all my athletes and for my own running/triathlon training. There’s a free version for personal use and the calendar is an easy-to-use drag & drop tool. It also has capabilities to upload from your devices – Garmin, PowerTap, etc. Plus, there’s an mobile app for tracking on the go!
It also has a ton of graphs for the data geeks in the group…like me!
Beginner Triathlete: The website that started it all, as far as real training tracking goes. It’s optimized for triathletes, but runners will find it easy to track their training here too. Great basic charts and recording are available on the free version, with uploading from devices on the paid version.
- JEFIT: For strength training, my favorite app is JEFIT Workout, Bodybuilding, & Fitness. I did a full review on the app here, including some tips on how to best use the app for your strength training workouts!
Excel Spreadsheet: It may be more do-it-yourself than some of the other tools, but excel is a great option for basic training! Set up a format that you like and use formulas to track your weekly increase in mileage or weights.