For over a decade now I’ve been keeping paper training logs. I will soon describe many methods I’ve done it. But first, the secret of consistently keeping training logs:
- CRAM AS MUCH ON ONE PAGE AS POSSIBLE!
Tricking sentence summary method
- S – Tricking. Farley field. 40 mins. Left early, too cold. Just opposite side aerial stuff.
- M – Tricking. Bell mountain. 40 mins. Opposite kicks. Old guy with dog interruption.
- T – Tricking. Sanhurst park. 40 mins. Medium intensity. Cold as hell, basic aerial stuff.
- W -Strength. Played around with some light power cleans and front squats.
- T – Tricking. The marina. 60 mins. Awesome session, opp 720 double!!?
Write down where you tricked, time, intensity level, movements you did, and some things that happened. Do this on a calendar as described below. This is your quantitative record. Combine this with a qualitative record, such as a journal or a tricking spellbook. The spellbook should contain tips for skills, ideas, observations, insights, lessons learned, etc.
Big page with a program method
Best suited for: People who need only one routine and don’t want to change it. Good for a maintenance routine.
Advantages: Easy to use and make. Convenient because you fit a ton onto one page. Easy to see progress between training sessions. Good for a single complex routine or routines that don’t change much.
Disadvantages: Not good for instinctive training. Must write very small. No room for comments about each session unless you write on the back. Can’t easily make changes on the fly to the program. Not good for people who do multiple training routines (unless you print multiple pages with different routines).
Big page with several programs method
Best suited for: People who want to design a highly complex, scientific training program that involves multiple training routines and multiple variables.
Advantages: Convenient because you fit a ton onto one page. Great for keeping track of a month’s worth of training with 3-6 different routines. Easy to use. Easy to see progress between sessions. Excellent for complex routines.
Disadvantages: Terrible for instinctive training. Have to write small. Can’t make changes on the fly to the program. Can be difficult to design and implement. Can make you more neurotic than necessary when designing it.
Blank page method
Best suited for: People who like doing 1-3 exercises with few sets and GTFO’ing. People who feel like routines are restrictive and would rather base their training off of what they did the last few weeks and make instinctive changes or program on the fly as they plod along through the month.
Advantages: Easy to see progress between training sessions. Highly flexible because you’re primarily logging your training instead of following a program. Plenty of room for comments. Easy to get started and easy to keep up with!
Disadvantages: No design, so it subjects you to being fickle in your training decisions. Not good if you wish to implement mathematic controls into your training. You have to write out everything all the time (so you end up adopting a very short hand writing system). Terrible for people who prefer swapping exercises often.
This is the same as the blank page logging method above, except it has date boxes (duh. it’s a calendar). It’s better because you can see how many days were between training sessions, so you feel obligated to put something down on each day. This is superior to the blank page method in that respect. The only problem here is it restricts how much you can write per day, unless you use one like the third thumbnail image above that has blank boxes on the back of the page for a detailed record of each session.
Week calendars for high volume training method
The blank time slots are bigger than a normal calendar page, which motivates you to do a lot more training. People who want the experience of temporary, self guided overtraining without designing set routines should use week calendar pages. However, like the other blank page logs this isn’t great for routines. Printing a new page every week is also a little annoying.
Page per day logging methods suck!
Now do this 20 days in a row when you’re training everyday.
It’ll make you want to claw your eyes out.
DO. NOT. DO. THIS. TO. YOUR. SELF. IT. IS. NOT. WORTH. IT.
You have to write a ton, that’s the worst part. But it’s also annoying to make progress comparisons because you must flip back and forth between tons of pages. It’s terrible for designed routines (because you have to copy the routine on many pages.)
Also, notice how I scanned a lot of my personal training records for this article. All of my training records are on my pc on a few pdf files sorted by year. Late 2005 – 2006 was a pain in the ass though, because during that time I decided to log everything day by day on separate pages, so I had to scan 100s of fucking pages front and back!
Goal oriented logging method
Early 2010 I decided to log the progress I made toward achieving my training goals with my non-training goals.
Page 1:Tips for myself and the general plan.
Page 2: My daily goals. Cold shower first thing every morning, continue my 4 month caffeine fast, do my morning exercise routines everyday, trick or stretch every afternoon during my work lunch hour, finish the task assigned to me of scanning my dead grandma’s (R.I.P.) monstrous photo collection for my parents before February by working on it two hours everyday (I’m actually serious).
So when it was done it would look something like this:
Advantages: Excellent way to build new habits because it keeps you accountable with the calendar check off thing. A lot of information on only a few pages. Cute.
Disadvantages: Not great for detailed routines. Can make you robotic in your day to day life. Puts too much emphasis on gregorian calendar divisions, thus you tend to lose continuity between months of the year and have a higher tendency to change too many things each month.
Visual record method
The mountains of chicken scratch filled log books I’ve torn through over the years would be nearly useless if I didn’t make videos and take pictures and stuff. You simply must film yourself tricking, training, flexing, and eating! Filming and logging together are a super powerful combination.
Melodic viking death metal works.
So if I want to grow my hair out again (or if you want to grow your hair out) this’ll give us an idea how long it’ll take.
Write about training in a journal method
Instead of only writing what it was you did, write about it. You could drown in mountains of quantitative data and short descriptions like It was sunny. I landed some flash fulls into the sandpit. My body weight was 210 lbs. I jerked off before training. But all the logging in the world does nothing unless you combine your data into some sort of lesson for yourself.
This data must teach you something! Why are you writing what you did down? Are you writing everything you need? Should you be logging your stimulant intake and body weight? Should you be keeping food logs? Should you be keeping sleep logs? Will these things help you? Would it be a good idea to keep a journal of your thoughts and ideas so you can compare your physical maturity to your mental and spiritual maturity? (or rather, use your physical performance as a means to enhance your mental and spiritual performance. Aha.)
Bottom line: Write it down for a reason. Use what your write. Figure your-self out!
Which logging method should you choose?
Just pick one! I’d still recommend cramming as much on one page as possible because:
- Easy to use and keep up with.
- Progress is tracked without flipping pages.
The important thing is to start tracking something, anything! See if you can dig out some patterns and clues to understand as much as you can about how your body reacts to certain training stimuli, foods, quantities of foods, moon phases, seasonal changes, bed times, environmental materials, whatever. We’ve already gone beyond simply tracking reps and sets, you’re now on a quest to rule the world!
How logging will help you rule the world
- Two things are needed to rule the world:
# Resolution. By building a history of your successes and experiments via record keeping you become more decisive: Because the insight you gain and retain from this practice allows you to better measure the options you have to choose from based on what you’ve done before.
# Drive. It’s annoying to look back and notice that four years ago you were just as strong as you are now on an exercise, this will drive you to kick it up a notch. It also works the other way around too of course, when you see how far you’ve come and you’re like YES! I AM WINNING AT LIFE! Keep your benchmarks close at hand to haunt you.. erh.. I mean, guide you daily. Here’s one of mine; I’m personally a little proud of this scrap of paper, January 19th 2008: 440 pound deadlift 40 times in 15 minutes.