One Tool That Will Help You Progress Your Fitness Goals

What’s the best workout advice you have ever received?
  • Keep going even when you aren’t motivated to?
  • Don’t let yourself get discouraged because you feel like you have so far to go; instead, focus on how far you have come?
  • Or is it simply; don’t ever give up.
I’ve been vigorously active for the last 15 years and I can tell you from personal experience all of these things will come up. And the best workout advice I have ever gotten? Just go today. May seem odd but let me explain.
  • When the motivation wanes; just go today and get through the day.
  • When you want to give up; just go today and get through the day.
  • When you get discouraged with how far you have to go; just go today and get through the day.
  • There is one important step I have left out: repeat. Every single day.
It may seem silly but this is the kind of mentality that has been the main reason for my longevity in fitness. I am told all the time by well-meaning acquaintances, “I wish I had your motivation!” Which I always promptly reply that I wish I HAD the motivation they THINK I have! Instead, I have a mental mantra; a feeling of responsibility to myself, and a well-ingrained habit. There is one tool, however, that I can attest to rounding out my “journey” so far though. That is the workout log. The simple writing and noting of exercises, reps, weight, sets, and time(s) every time I train. You may see people walking around in your local gym with their own version of this in notepad form or in app form. Let me encourage you to consider using a log and this is why: motivation, encouragement, improvement, redirection, memory, and focus. That is an awful lot packed into one tiny little notebook. You will see that you can find encouragement in your log by seeing where you started and comparing it too where you are now; or inversely, where you started and where you are now, in not a good way. Either one can lead you to redirection and better focus to either re-achieve that level of fitness OR continue to build past your current achievements to even greater heights. You can also use the log to notice patterns in training. Look at where you are actively progressing/slacking/not challenging yourself towards betterment. It never fails if you don’t keep a log and you tell yourself “I will remember next time what I did this time.” You won’t. Or you will simply repeat the same thing over and over never varying, progressing, or doing a single thing differently. Unfortunately, another nugget of advice – what gives you results in the beginning will not continue to challenge you and give you results for long in the future. You must diversify what you do, how you do it, and how long you do it for. That applies to any kind of training: running, lifting weights, CrossFit, etc. So how do you start a log and what is the best option? This is individual. Are you a tech-savvy millennial that can’t stand the thought of pen and paper or are you dead set on pen and a pad? I have kept logs both ways and there are pros and cons with either. I have been 100% app based for over a year and I don’t see myself going back. But the first decade I was 100% pen and pad. I enjoyed going back and seeing the workouts I engineered and seeing my weight/set/rep volume fluctuate and improve. But I will be honest, as I have gotten older, I have transitioned from creating my own programs to finding an app with built-in programming that I can enjoy and benefit from without the mental workout of building the programs. Again, this is individual. You may like building your programs and I say go for it and enjoy! However, there is nothing wrong with different preferences, times of life, and goals that will ultimately decide which option is best for you. No matter if you go old school or tech here are a few things to consider:
  • Get a NICE log. One that caters to your style and is big enough so you don’t have to chicken scratch your workouts – you want to be able to read it later.
  • If you decide on an app, try several. There are many free apps and they each have their benefits. Some are geared for mileage, others for met-cons. Nothing wrong with free but that takes me to my next point…
  • If you go app, consider paying for it. Every month. This is “peer” pressure at its finest. Not only do paid-for apps have features that free ones do not, but when there is a bit of “Ben Franklin” involved you are more apt to use it. Plus the features are hard to beat. Some will calculate 1RM on major lifts, provide exercise video demos and training plans to follow and some will come with their own community (forums, Facebook groups, and live webinars).
  • Look back! There is no point in keeping a log if you don’t use the information in it! See where you are stalled and figure out why! Reassess your lifts, times, and structure frequently. This is how you continue FORWARD progress!
What say you? Are you currently using a log? If so, what’s your favorite thing about it? Are you old school or tech? And let us know in the comments what the best workout advice you have ever received is!