Gym Log Book, Why You Need to Track Your Training Progress

The other day someone asked me for some advice. I was in the gym, and logging all my workouts as usual. They wanted to know about my gym log book, why you need to track your training progress and if it matters.

This is of course not out of the ordinary, I get questions all the time. I always take the time to answer, thinking back to how frustrated I would get if I had a question and could not find an answer when I had first started along my learning process.

This question though got to me. It was not a bad question, but it was so rooted in a backwards type of thinking that I started to ask various people if they had a training log.

The comments that set me to thinking were along the lines of:

“My weight loss has slowed down due to me cheating a lot. In the past three months I have lost 5 lbs only. Weight training is also going slowly, and I feel like I am spinning my wheels!”

My answer to this was that you must track. How will you know where you should go, if you do not know where you have already been?

To very little surprise on my behalf, the answer I got back was worded like this:

“My tracking is going okay actually. I don’t need to track. I can remember and I just put some more weight on the next week, if I can remember to do that. Some weeks I just do a different exercise anyhow, so it doesn’t really matter.”

This didn’t really surprise me. I’ve noticed that the people who are the most successful, whom I would want to emulate and become like, kept organized logs of their training, and went into every workout with a clear focus to what they would be doing on a particular workout. Beating your workout in terms of reps or sets from the last week was always a goal they set.

The folks who tell me that they are not seeing results, and cannot make gains, lose weight, or gain mass are always the ones who cannot tell anyone what they did last week. They also usually “guesstimate” (a terrible word if you want to be successful) what they are eating on any given day however that is another article for another day.

My name is Steven J. Campbell, and I keep a workout log.

If you have dropped into the site before, you will see that I have kept various logs for the different exercises and diets I have adhered to.

While not everyone will want to keep a daily log online regarding their diet and training, you will need to set up a basic training log if you wish to keep progressing from session to session.


In no particular order are five reasons you need to start a training log today if you do not already have one.

  1. Because bad workouts happen

If you are doing your best to be awesome 100% of the time, you will likely succeed around 80% of the time. If you have no idea what your current stats are, and what you are working on for a particular day, how will you know if you missed your mark and by how much?

Not knowing you had a bad workout, is as detrimental as not knowing you had a good workout day.

The truth is that you will always have a goal in mind if you keep a workout log, and that workout log will be a life saver when you realize a bad day happened, and you can be aware of it.

Look for a reason, stop worrying, and just note the workout out as a single bump in the otherwise good progression you have been seeing. Use your log as a positive way to measure progress, and adjust only when you see that numbers are not consistently moving upwards in either rep ranges, or weights or both.

  1. Because Excuses are Terrible. Do not be about excuses, be about answers

The worst person in the world is the one who shows up to the gym three days a week, talks with friends, checks their email, lifts weights haphazardly, and then tells the world that he really cannot make progress because simply put:

“I am an endomorph. Big boned really, it is just in my genetics to be this way and there isn’t much I can do about it.”

While I hope we all hit out “genetic limit,” the truth is that this is unlikely to happen for most people that are not professional athletes, and that is perfectly fine.

I am not here to argue that genetics will always play a role on what a person’s absolute max in any scenario will be, but those who cannot take $3.00 from their budget to buy a lined notebook and pen, and seconds extra to jot down what they did in the gym are not going to see success.

This applies not only in the gym but often times in other areas of their lives.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

  1. Because Those Who are Already Successful Use Them

Whether you are an athlete training for an event based on speed (swimming, running, etc), or a person who wants to look great on the beach, those who keep a recorded log are bound to improve, while those that don’t will generally stay where they are for weeks and months on end.

Be confident that the elite athletes with the most success are the ones who are logging and tracking their progress, and copy them.

The best at what they do will constantly strive to get better. Try to be the best you can be every time. Improve on last time, and you have no choice to get better.

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  1. Progressively Heavier or Lighter Weights = A Reality Check

When dieting down  or aiming to get stronger, your body will either

  1.  get stronger, bigger (hypertrophy/muscle gain) , and improve
  2. get weaker, smaller (via muscle catabolism/muscle loss ) and you will lose ground.

You will go one of these two directions. Be sure to be aware of your current path.

Assuming you are getting the proper rest, nutrition, and training the latter should be minimized.

A log will ensure you stay on your path, with maximum success, and minimal failure.

  1. It is dirt cheap, but priceless

The final reason is simple. A training log is cheap. It costs very little to get a notebook and a pen and be sure that it is in your gym bag.

And while cheap to start, the value it brings will give you a tremendous amount of added push at times in your training.

So why not start a gym training log? What do you have to lose vs gain? Do you prefer to keep it “casual?” and how is your progress either way? Be sure to comment below and share this article of you found it useful.

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