How to Log and Compare Workouts

In my most recent book The 100 Calorie Diet Plan (available in Print on Amazon andCreatespace, and for Kindle and for Nook ebooks) I explain briefly how to log your workouts and then make steady incremental progress from workout to workout. For a more complete explanation and a better example than in the book, here’s two of my recent training sessions compared side-by-side.

Leg Day Training - two side by side workouts
Leg Day Training – two side by side workouts

If you’re already training, I hope you’re keeping some type of training journal. If not, you have one now. Put your data in your nutrition and success tracking journal we started in the previous chapter. The plan now is to log everything, minutes, miles, feet, pounds, sets, reps. If you don’t know what you’re doing now, how can you know if you do more later? or worse, less? I like to have as much meaningful information as possible, with a focus on meaningful. — The 100 Calorie Diet Plan, Page 13

I use the Color Note App on my phone while training, just because it’s really handy and I can share it to my home PC or online document app whenever I want to compile stats. I have developed a shorthand over the years to make my logging easier, even though the auto-complete on the phone should make it simple to type. Here’s a quick guide to my shorthand, and some specific terms used on this example:

Log Workouts: glossary

Hyper: Back Hyperextension, laying forward in the machine bend toward to floor then up to a straight body
RC: Roman Chair (usually done on the Back Hyperextension bench) ab training motion
Gravitron: An assisted pullup/dip machine.
PU: Pullup
Cybex: Equipment Manufacturer, a style of strength training machine
RDL: Romanian Dead Lift – deadlift done from standing to the floor and return to standing, typically with straight legs
Leg Ext: Leg Extension, straightening the legs under load
Leg Curl: Retracting the legs to folded under load
Ab Curl: a type of situp in which the spine is flexed to a c-shape curve
Delt: short for deltoid, the shoulder muscles

First I get core out of the way with Back Hyperextension and Roman Chair Abs.

I begin the rest of the workout by warming up with the Gravitron pullup with a 130 pound assist. This gives me about 50 pounds of load. I do this about every other workout, if not more, since these are climbing-specific muscles and I need to do a light duty set frequently.

Cybex Fly Machine for Chest and Delts
Cybex Fly Machine for Chest and Delts

I then do the Chest and Rear Delt Fly. I did chest on my previous workout and this helps stretch out the muscles and flush blood and toxins through for faster recovery.

Romanian Dead Lifts are a great “Posterior Chain” workout, working the glutes (butt) and hamstrings (back of legs). These are important muscles for everything, but particularly upward travel at higher speed.

Romanian Dead Lifts from a stand on the platform
Romanian Dead Lifts from a stand on the platform

Then for squats. I am doing Power Lifter style squats, with the bar placed low on the back, centered over the upper notch in the scapulae and with the legs fairly wide, going as far down as flexibility allows. Some people only squat down about 4″ and this allows a lot of weight to be used, so if you try going all the way down, keep in mind that you might not be using as much weight as you would think.

The view from the row of Cybex Equipment at the Breckenridge Recreation Center
The view from the row of Cybex Equipment at the Breckenridge Recreation Center

I use the calf sled since there isn’t any other calf machine at this facility and I’m not really stable doing them without a power rack for safety. A calf sled is a seat on sliding rails with weight underneath. You lift the seat on the rails by pushing with your toes on a plate.

Finally I do a couple of finishing moves on the Leg Extension and Leg Curl machines with a lot of reps at a moderate weight. In between stuff and as it seems appropriate I also do a lot of stretching. This is controversial but I’ve done it for years and believe it helps me recover faster.

Leg Extension:

Leg Curl:

If you look at the side-by-side comparison you’ll see that I’ve made good progress between the two sessions, about a week apart. In another post we’ll look at the math, but I do cover that in the book, if you want to skip ahead and do it yourself. Remember to log workouts if you want to know for sure what you’re really doing.

Remember that by logging your training, you are making it measurable, and adding to your accountability. Measuring is the “M” in SMART – the classic goal setting strategy. Some people need professional help with this to ensure greater success faster. I know I could have halved the time I spent losing my 60 pounds and getting ready for my adventure goals had I gotten professional help early.

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