Remember when you were a kid collecting stickers for a chore chart or a job well done? How would you feel if you were handed a gold star after you completed a workout? Reinforcing the behavior with the reward of being able to record the day’s achievement can solidify an exercise habit. The record serves as proof of your accomplishment and even some of the intrinsic rewards associated with exercise -- becoming stronger and fitter -- which after time will build momentum. You won’t want to leave that page blank or excuse-laden because of a skipped workout.
Keeping track of what you do and how you feel in both quantitative and qualitative terms can be an extremely beneficial tool in achieving your fitness goals. While individuals may find a need to record different statistics vary based on individual goals, the resulting benefits that make logging valuable remain the same. Some statistics you might want to record include: body weight, sleep time, minutes exercised, RPE – rate of perceived exertion, resting heart rate, miles run, weight lifted, reps, water, conditions, and injury updates. Recording exercise and related details can help solidify the habit of exercise and help us learn more about the individual response based on historical data.
Logging is establishing your own personal fitness history. If a training cycle falls flat, you will have laid the tracks to uncover possible reasons for your result. For example, looking back in my college training logs I note that eating Twizzlers before track practice was NOT beneficial. Often the training error is not as obvious or clear cut as that, but rather the accumulation of several days or even weeks that end in injury or put someone in the overtraining zone.
On the flip side, you will learn what really works for you. Dialing in the details like amount of sleep needed, type of recovery, as well as learning the signals your body sends when responding properly to the fitness program are all benefits of logging. When you know what works it is easy to recreate the conditions and to maintain the motivation to continue training effectively.
With technology never far from our fingertips, you can choose from many tracking apps including myfitnesspal, fitbit and myfitnessjournal.com. These online tracking tools can be easily shared with your personal trainer, coach or even with a larger social network. Some people, myself included, still enjoy the old-fashioned pen and paper method. The system doesn’t need to be complex; it just needs to work for you. Give it a try a month of committed logging, and maybe go splurge on a pack of gold stars!