Friday, September 4, 2009

Record Keeping

By Bob Alejo.

If you were to get into the locker of the most successful body builders or weight lifters, you will probably find volumes of training journals. Journals that will have an everyday account of training, thoughts and maybe diet intake for the day. In fact, I have known athletes from other sports that have acquired the same habit of recording their training in an effort to do all they can to be the best.

Being the best has every thing to do with paying attention to detail. Working hard in the gym, on the track and disciplining your diet are great starts. If you really want to raise your own standards, keep a daily account of your training. There is no other way to help you figure out the yearly ups and downs of training and the constant push to perfection which will separate you from the others who are not so diligent.

Recording repetitions, sets and the weight being used is important, but there are a few extra details that will be helpful. Making short notes on your energy levels and nagging injuries, could lead to some important information about your diet, the best time to train and choosing safe exercises that work for you. Knowing the reasons for high or low energy levels could make the difference in making major strength and speed gains.

Making notes on the amount of weight lifted or how many reps were attempted could lead to a great workout the next time around. If a weight was too light for a given amount of repetitions, then leaving a written reminder in your notebook won't allow you to make the same mistake again. There is no use in wasting a rep or a set when making gains is difficult. Likewise, an attempt at adding weight too early might cause an unnecessary injury or take you off your training course. In any event, don't limit yourself to recording numbers. A training diary could be the missing link to making consistent gains.

Tips on keeping a diary:
1. Record every set, repetition and weight lifted or attempted.
2. Note energy levels and any injuries or pain that you have for the day.
3. The time of day that you train might vary, so it could be important to keep track of the hour of the day and the length of the training session.
4. Do not limit yourself to recording numbers. Be sure to list other thoughts that will help you to make future gains- difficulty of sets, how the weight felt, technique problems, suggestions for weights or reps for the next workout and exercise substitutions.
5. Use the notes of the past to guide your future sessions.

Bob Alejo is a former Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at University of California – Santa Barbara. He now serves as the Oakland Athletics Strength and Conditioning Coach.

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