Not seeing progress? Maybe you should write down your
routines.

This goes out to all the people who don’t write out their routines/weight/notes during/after workouts.  I feel that keeping a log of your workouts is one of the most important things you can do….so I’m going to rant about it a little.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I was at the gym 2 days ago when an older gentleman came up to me and exclaimed proudly that he has moved his son away from writing routines (I was scribbling stuff down in mine).  He said this encouraged him to stray away from hurting himself and trying to lift too much too soon.

I completely disagree.

After some brief conversation he followed up with “I don’t think I’ve made gains in 30 years.” I responded “Maybe if you’d kept a log you would know”.  He didn’t have anything else to say.

If you don’t keep a log how do you know you’re progressing.  How do you know if you’re workouts are ACTUALLY working.  Also, once you’ve noticed a routine working by looking the mirror HOW do you know which exercises to credit to your success down the road.

Here’s what I recommend:

Keep a flip up spiral notebook.

Each day you workout write you’re weight. How you’re feeling (Sick, etc.). I also try to include supplements I used.  Then write each exercise skipping two lines for each one. Use slash marks to notate sets. Write the weight you performed and reps under each tic mark (Obviously this is hard to do on the computer.)

Ex:

DB Bench Press:  / / /

225(10), 225(10), 225(10)

Incline Bench:     / / /

185(10), 185(10), 185(10).
Each time you complete the set make an X out of one of the sets.

Ex:

DB Bench Press:  X / /

DB Bench Press: X X /

DB Bench Press: X X X

I find this very motivational.  I love when I can slash that last mark off.

Arnold used this exact same method.

Workout routines are meant to be switched up every 4-8 weeks. Its important to write down your routines so you know what worked, what didn’t, and make adjustments.  Also, once you’ve performed a certain weight for the intended reps throughout ALL the sets for that movement, you KNOW when to increase you weight. Without a log you are just guessing.

All in all if you’re serious about bodybuilding you probably know this stuff or keep some version of a log.  Adjust it to what works for you, but if you want to make serious gains, cut, etc. you NEED to keep a log.  It’s motivational and it propels you towards success in a more focused fashion.
Since doing this religiously I’ve noticed most of my workouts go up by 2 to 3 reps or 5 lbs every 2 workouts. I’ve also been able to increase my weight 7 lbs and fix symmetry issues by analyzing my past routines to find what helped me put on weight or where I wasn’t seeing strength increase.

Keep a log. Do it.