Tracking your program

I recently had a good question about how to track your program. This is an important part of programming success. How can you know if you are making progress if you don’t remember where you have been? How are you supposed to figure out what types of training are productive for you and what types are not? Well writing them down in one form or another is an easy and very useful way to make sure that you are able to see you progress. I’m going to throw out a few different ways that you can track your program and then a few pieces of advice on how to keep track of what is important and what really isn’t in the long run.

Journals

Notebooks are an old friend to tracking your training. You can go with a high rent moleskin, a spiral bound like you used in school, or just a simple small note pad. The key is get something with a hard plastic cover on each side since over time being in the gym it is likely you will spill something on it. Also, you will constantly be opening and closing it which can cause you to lose the cover which in turn will possibly have you lose the first pages in the journal additionally. Spiral bounds do have an advantage in that you can store a pen in the spiral so you know you will always have a way to write.

Excel files

You can use Microsoft excel to track your workouts and specifically what your performance on your top sets are with time. I’m not a big fan of this, but another way is to write up workout cards for the week or for just your lifting days. This gives you something you can print out and then take with you to the gym to fill out as you go through your workout. This does work well and this is how I tracked my athletes when I coached and my personal training clients so you can see what they are doing with their progressions. There are also nice excel templates that you can buy through companies like renaissance periodization that you can use for very specific training goals. Here is a simple excel formatting that I made for my in-laws that you can use for your own training by copy and pasting it in to excel (you will have to manually change the formatting to get what you want here):

Name
Day Date                    
Warm Up: Exercise Time                    
Exercise 1 Push Set 1 wt            reps                    
Rep Range: #-# Set 2 wt            reps                    
Seat Setting: Set 3 wt            reps                    
Arm Setting: Set 4 wt            reps                    
Pad Setting: Set 5 wt            reps                    
Exercise 2 Pull Set 1 wt            reps                    
Rep Range: #-# Set 2 wt            reps                    
Seat Setting: Set 3 wt            reps                    
Arm Setting: Set 4 wt            reps                    
Pad Setting: Set 5 wt            reps                    
Exercise 3 Lower Set 1 wt            reps                    
Rep Range: #-# Set 2 wt            reps                    
Seat Setting: Set 3 wt            reps                    
Arm Setting: Set 4 wt            reps                    
Pad Setting: Set 5 wt            reps                    
Exercise 4 Abs Set 1 wt            reps                    
Rep Range: #-# Set 2 wt            reps                    
Seat Setting: Set 3 wt            reps                    
Arm Setting: Set 4 wt            reps                    
Pad Setting: Set 5 wt            reps                    
Exercise Optional Set 1 wt            reps                    
Rep Range: #-# Set 2 wt            reps                    
Seat Setting: Set 3 wt            reps                    
Arm Setting: Set 4 wt            reps                    
Pad Setting: Set 5 wt            reps                    
old bench assault pages
Old bench assault pages. Useful since you can track your weights each week of the program.
excel formatting for programs
This is how you should format the table above in excel. If you have questions email me and I will send you the basic file to use.

Apps

There are a number of different activity trackers for your phone and computer. Some of these are just for tracking steps, but others cannot just track, but give you entire programs to follow. There is nothing wrong with investing or utilizing one of these, just make sure there is a way you can get all of your information out if you want a physical copy so you can look through it to find the trends of your training and where you might have been getting better faster or not making as much progress.

How many details?

When you are using a journal or writing your program in to your phone or computer, you need to ask yourself how much is enough information to record? Do you need to record every warm up exercise, set, and repetition? Maybe when you start off but after a while that isn’t so necessary. Do you need to record every single work set? Probably so you can see how much work you put in. Do you need to record your personal records in movements so you can see what types of progress you are making? Yes, always keep track of your PRs so you know which way you are moving with your overall training. Do you need to track your rest periods? Maybe. Start off simply with how much work you do and then with time add in more variables and then look back at what you have done and see what the important metrics for you to follow were.

What is important?

Aside from just training your training program of sets, reps, and time you might want to track some other pieces of information. For example, always track which day you are training on. Sounds simple, but some folks take years to figure out their squat workout sucks the day after they deadlift. Keep a log of which days you do train and in which way, so you can see how your other workouts effect your current one. Also you can track your sleep and parts of your diet (which is another can of worms in itself). With time you will find what is important for your log and what is just noise, but you need to start tracking either way.

Summary

So that is the basics of how you can track your program. There are a huge number of ways that you can do so, but you need to be using at least one. Figure out what works best for your time, energy, and psychology. Use these training logs as a way to see what training is the most productive and a waste of your time. Find what works and keep experimenting to make things better with time. I hope this was useful for you and as always thanks for reading.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s