The Importance of a Training Journal

By Haylie Grayson

My progress after keeping a training journal

Progress in my shoulders after keeping a training journal

A wise man once said, “What gets measured, gets managed.” Sounds good, but how can we apply this quote to fitness/nutrition?

Today, I’m going to share with you one of the most powerful tools you can use to get better results with your training, nutrition, and really, any area of your life your that needs improvement.

Let’s start off with a story. The following story contains one common mistake that most people make, especially if they’re new to fitness. Can you spot what Bob does wrong?

Bob is tired of not having the body he desires. Bob decides to get a gym membership and starts working out at the gym 5 days a week. Bob has done some research on proper diet and exercise. He has eliminated junk food and he’s strength training 3 times a week with cardio mixed in on his off days.

Fast forward one year: Bob has lost some weight. He is definitely looking better and feeling better, but he still isn’t completely satisfied with his appearance. What could he be doing wrong?

First of all, does this sound familiar? I’ll bet you’ve personally experienced this or know someone who has. I know I fell into this mistake, too.  Anyway, did you notice what Bob did wrong? He seemed to be doing all the right things.

journal1

If you didn’t catch the mistake, I’ll help you out. Bob didn’t keep a training journal. Why is it so important to keep a training journal? Don’t people get results without them?

That’s a good question. Some people are lucky enough to get results without one. But, we can’t approach things in life depending on good luck to carry us through. If we’re serious about our goals, we have to approach them deliberately. Never rely on “luck” to get you where you want to go.

It’s important to keep track of what you eat (including calories, macros, or portion sizes) and the workouts you do (including the exercises, sets, reps, weight used, and rest times), because if you don’t know what you’ve done, how can you know what to do differently to get better results? Or how can you know what to keep doing to continue making progress?

Let me break it down: Keeping track allows you to see where you’ve made progress, allowing you to “copy” what you’ve done before to continue making progress. It also helps you see where you haven’t made progress, so you know what doesn’t work and what to avoid doing in the future.

From now on, if you’re serious about improving your fitness, start logging all your workouts and all of your meals in a training journal. Weigh yourself, take your measurements, and progress photos each week (or however often you feel comfortable). If you’ve made gains one week you can look back in your journal and see what you’ve done to elicit those gains. Therefor, you can keep doing what works.

If haven’t made progress one week, you can also look back at your training journal and notice, for example, you had three days out of seven where your nutrition wasn’t on point and you skipped a couple of workouts. This will allow you to adjust accordingly.

Remember: What gets measured, gets managed.


Haylie Grayson in a banana peel: Certified fitness professional, motivating health coach, meatless athlete, animal/human rights activist, & lover/fighter. She specializes in My Fight Gym’s Strength & Conditioning and Nutrition classes & is the author of My Fight Gym’s series of nutrition guides.

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