Workout Logs

Workout logs are the key to getting fitter – here’s why

OPINION: TrustedReviews’ Wearables and Fitness Editor, Richard Easton, reveals why logging your workouts could be the key to reaching your goals.

Like many things in life, when it comes to getting fitter and healthier, consistency is key. Any time I’ve spoken to someone starting out on a new fitness routine, whether that’s aiming to to run their first 10K, hit a double bodyweight squat, or lose a certain amount of weight, I’ve been sure to mention something called “linear progression”.

It’s a simple idea I stumbled upon when I started out and it’s something I’ve touched upon previously. The basic principle is that you improve your performance in a systematic, considered manner with progressive load.

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If you’re trying to get to a specific distance while running, the best way to achieve it is by upping the distance of each run incrementally until you get there. If you want to hit a specific lift, add an incremental amount of weight to the bar. If you’re trying to lose weight, then it’s best to lose an incremental amount each week until you hit your goal.

Workout Logs

I genuinely believe that unless you track your progress, chances are you’ll end up spinning your wheels and not making any improvements. It’s probably the number one reason that gym-goers fail to make any progress after six months. If you don’t keep a log of your best kilometre run or the amount of weight, sets or reps you lift, you’ll never strive to improve.

When it comes to strength training, your body has an incredible ability to adapt to stresses and taxation. So if that weight doesn’t become heavier, or you don’t change the number of reps, there’s no reason for it to further adapt. Progress stalls, frustration rises, motivation plummets. The same principle applies to other disciplines, too.

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This is where fitness wearables and related apps come into play help. Running apps such as Strava keep track of all of your personal bests, combined distance run and all manner of other useful data. The Under Armour Record app can pull together data from numerous wearables and sources into one dashboard.

Under Armour HealthboxUnder Armour’s Record app is a great way to track progress

Lifting wearables and apps such as Strong provide an easy way to log weights exercises and look back over your development. Websites such as Strength Standards are a great way to quickly pull together a weights routine to follow and log.

Even beyond the obvious progress metrics of distance or reps, wearables are logging other aspects of your life – your resting heart rate, for example. This is a useful gauge of your overall fitness, so you can see how running those extra miles or doing those extra reps is affecting your overall health. It’s all part of what people are calling the “quantified self”.

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Workout Logs

In truth, it doesn’t matter how you decide to log your workouts, just that you should do it. Nowadays, you can take the more elegant approaches outlined above, or even just record what you do and your achievements in a Google Sheets. I started out with just a notepad and pen, diligently tallying up every rep of every set. The mere act of doing that makes you immediately more accountable for your progress. It makes you want to perform that much better than last time.

If motivation becomes a roadblock, logging your workouts can prove a great help. Dwindling motivation is the reason for that massive drop-off in gym attendees after the January boom. People want immediate, visible results – but this isn’t always viable.

Workout LogsThe culmination of years of applying linear progression to powerlifting

I always say, “If you don’t log it, you can’t improve it“, and that principle applies to all aspects of your health. If you log your workouts and see plain as day that you’re making progress, you’re more inclined to carry on to achieve those visible results you’re after.

Seeing how far you’ve come can be the greatest motivational tool you’ll come across. Every milestone feels like a personal victory.

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Do you agree? How do you keep track of your progress? Let us know in the comments below.