You’re probably used to keeping a food log or food diary by now, especially if you have specific fitness goals. But what about pairing it with a fitness journal?
Doing so could get you better results than ever.
“A fitness journal is a method of planning out and keeping track of your fitness goals,” explains Rachel Butler-Green, C.S.C.S., founder of Fit Mindful Body.
Used correctly, they can keep you accountable, clarify the path to your goals, and reveal patterns in your training that you would have otherwise missed.
Don’t be shy about starting with more information and paring it back as you go.
“The more information that you put into your fitness journal, the easier it is to identify trends, triggers, or other things that could impact your fitness goals,” says Kristian Flores, C.S.C.S.
Here’s how a fitness journal can help you reach your goals:
1. Start workouts with a plan of attack
Keeping a fitness journal is “a great tool to make sure you know what you’re doing and why,” says Butler-Green. “It’s tough to begin a workout and pump out exercises or cardio for no apparent reason.”
Essentially, you plan what exercises you’re going to do that day before start working out.
Once you begin, you log the intensity, the weight you use for each exercise, how much rest you take, and how you feel.
2. Check for week-over-week improvements
Let’s say you’re starting a fitness program like #mbf Muscle Burns Fat.
A journal can help you look back and see that you used to use 10-pound weights for shoulder presses, and now you’re using 15-pounders.
Highlight and celebrate those non-scale victories.
Use a fitness journal in conjunction with the worksheets for your favorite Beachbody programs to really see how you’re getting stronger inside and out.
3. Look for new challenges
By tracking the weights you use, “a fitness journal will totally drive you towards better performance,” says Flores.
If you check your fitness journal and find that you’ve been using 10-pound dumbbells for the same move several weeks in a row, and you’re able to bang out every rep with proper form, it might be time to increase the weight.
4. Tailor your program to your life
Your program needs to work within the realities of your daily life, including your energy levels, to be sustainable. A fitness journal can help.
If you’re doing Morning Meltdown 100, for example, you might use your journal to help you track how you feel each time you work out, and then schedule your sweat sessions for the time of day when you typically perform your best.
5. Get to the root of not-so-great sessions…
Butler-Green suggests getting as detailed as possible with your fitness journal because the information can tell you a lot about those less-than-stellar sessions.
“Sometimes the not-so-great sessions are because your weights are too heavy and you’re just too depleted to complete the rest of the workout efficiently,” she explains.
On the other hand, if you see that you’re hitting the same weight and feeling fine on other days, you know to look elsewhere, like your sleep or your meals.
6. …and keep them in perspective
It’s easy to assign too much importance to one sweat session that doesn’t feel good.
Maybe you didn’t sleep well and the day’s LIIFT4 workout was killer.
A fitness journal helps you keep a tough workout in perspective by reminding you of all the good ones (and personal records) you’ve had before.
7. Find the program you respond to best
We’re not saying to jump from program to program before you’ve finished them.
But if you’re considering repeating a program or looking to start a new one, a fitness journal is critical in finding out what you respond to the best, says Flores.
That way, you can spend your time doing the things that work best for you, she explains, which helps you ensure you’re always moving toward your goals, not the latest trend.
4 Fitness Journals to Get You Started
It can be intimidating to try to map out your own fitness journal.
Skip the stress and try one of these journals that come with pre-planned pages to track your workouts, food, and more.
1. SaltWrap Daily Fitness Planner
This fitness journal is geared toward weightlifters, with boxes for the weight you used on each set and how many reps you completed.
There are also nutrition pages for your food log.
Buy it on Amazon.
2. Cossac Fitness Journal & Workout Planner
Stay focused with a goal-setting page that lets you plan what you want to achieve and set timelines.
There are also pages specifically for tracking how your weights have increased by exercise for easy reference.
Buy it on Amazon.
3. Training for a Healthy Life: A Daily Food and Fitness Journal
More into wellness than weights? This fitness journal lets you track your food and exercise but also encourages you to log how you’re feeling and how you cared for yourself each day.
Buy it on Amazon.
4. Kunitsa Co. Food and Exercise Journal
If you want some freedom to doodle, create your own goals, and track your wellness in both text and charts, this fitness bullet journal is the one for you.
This one also comes with pages you can color as a relaxation exercise and charts for tracking consistency and building habits.
Buy in on Amazon.