The easiest way to progress your training is by using a workout journal to document your numbers, says natural bodybuilding champion Paul O’Brien.
Fitness and Nutrition is a world where people love to over-complicate things. People want to believe that more complex training programmes (that require a calculator and a maths degree to work out ) are superior to programmes that look basic and simple on paper.
How to Use a Workout Journal
In my experience, basic simple programmes combined with the correct use of your log book not to mention brutal hard work will always be superior to fancy dancy programmes.
The true art in making improvements lies in knowing what to try and beat each week and this relies upon keeping useful records and notes from each completed training session.
Some weeks you will be able to add weight to the bar/dumbbell whereas other weeks you may be aiming to add an extra rep to what you did the previous week. In fact, some weeks neither of these may be possible and you will just be looking to perform the target reps with “ better technique “ than last time which is still a positive progression.
It is very useful to make notes after each exercise performed and give a perceived rating of effort/ difficulty/reps left in reserve.
Something as simple as “could get 2 more reps on this weight“ or as the case may be “keep the weight the same and aim for 1 extra rep”. This will leave valuable clues as to what you should aim for the following week.
You should also write down any positive technique changes you make or useful coaching cues that made you connect with any exercises performed.
Nutrition wise it is also well worth writing down what you had to eat before a training session especially if you train really well or indeed badly one day as the food you eat and the actual amounts is one of the most important factors in improving performance in the gym.
Other factors worth logging that can all affect performance in the gym are amounts of sleep, water, stress levels, time spent in work ( stress ) …. all these can have a positive or negative effect on a training session and very often people make knee-jerk reactions to their training programme because of one bad session when the true answer lies in one of the above lifestyle factors.
To get the most out of your training my advice is to pick the exercises that serve YOU best and then aim to execute each exercise with the best technique possible to get the most out of every rep and set you perform.
Combining this with correct use of your logbook will allow you to make progress much faster than a routine only Einstein could truly understand.