Why a Workout Logbook?

Author: Craig Coghlin, B.A., CPT, CFC
Why wouldn’t someone want to know what kind of progress they are making? How can one possibly remember every minor detail regarding their exercise program? These are just some of the questions I pose to my clients when I am preaching the importance of tracking your progress.

There are actually numerous ways of tracking progress. One of the best ways, in my opinion, is to have a fitness appraisal done by a certified individual. A typical appraisal involves measuring resting heart rate, blood pressure, height, weight, BMI, five different skinfolds (some appraisers know how to do more), measurement of aerobic fitness and recovery, grip strength, maximum number of pushups and sit-ups, a test of flexibility, and determination of leg power and vertical jump. Some appraisers, like myself, also like to offer supplemental girths in addition to these services. In my opinion, the more information you know, the more specific the results become. Aside from giving an in depth measure of one’s current physical fitness level, these appraisals also give some insight into general health. For example, fitness appraisers can determine if one has hypertension, tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate), bradycardia (abnormally low heart rate), or other related health problems that require professional attention.

With specific goals in mind, one is capable of seeing directly how much they have changed. For example, if an individual is looking to lose weight, and goes on an exercise routine consisting of ample cardio and moderate weight training activities, I would strongly urge them to have a fitness appraisal done. After a certain length of time has passed, the individual could return for a reassessment. Reassessments are important because if one just goes by their bathroom scale weight, they may be quite disappointed. What can commonly happen in regards to moderate weight training is the displacement of fat mass with muscle mass. Because muscle weighs more than fat, the bathroom scale can cause severe dismay. A full reassessment would pin point the changes;
it would identify which areas of the body lost the weight (skinfolds and girths), and would give insight into the cardiovascular improvements.

Another way of keeping track of one’s progress is quite simple, and requires no certifications. Get a logbook. These books are not only cheap and easy to find, they can prove to be motivators in themselves. By looking through past workouts, you can see what areas are not progressing as you may wish, and thus you can focus attention on these areas. By recording dates, you can deduce what occurrences may be holding you back from getting into the gym as frequently as you wish (“Must See TV”). I urge my clients to set their own personal “mini goals” and try to break them in a set amount of time. An example of this would be an individual trying to increase their bench press. I would recommend trying to increase one aspect of the bench press each time they are in the gym. By looking to their logbook for the results of their last bench workout, they can attempt to increase the number of reps in any sets, or increase the weight by small amounts. One of the biggest things I rely on my logbook for is simply remembering what I am supposed to be doing that day. I’m sure many people are in the same boat as I am and just have too much other stuff to remember to be able to recall exactly the weight and reps from an exercise done days before. At the very least, logbooks give you something to do while you’re in your rest period. Instead of just sitting like a bump on a log, you can be planning your next set, or next exercise, and the rest periods will become less boring.

Get your own workout log Whether you’re just getting started, or have been hardcore for quite some time, being aware of progress is essential to success. If you’re looking for a quality logbook, go to www.myfit.ca, then go to training guide; or if you’re here at UWO, just go to MS. And don’t forget to find your certified fitness consultant and have an appraisal done!