How To Keep A Weight Training Log: Complete Guide

When effectively executed, weightlifting delivers remarkable benefits; not just to boost muscle building and attain the desired physique, but boosting your resting metabolism as well. Your resting metabolism essentially enables you to burn additional calories outside the gym.

Engaging in regular strength training could even boost your confidence and improve your mood. If you aim to get impressive results as you conquer bigger lifts and get bigger biceps, keeping a weight training log would be a good place to start.

This is something everyone can do; it is inexpensive, and it is the one surefire method that will keep you abreast as to whether or not you are making progress. Logging your training is a vital habit that distinguishes between successful, seasoned athletes from novices.

The truth is that the most successful competitors are lifters who keep consistent and detailed training logs. Below, you will be provided with tips on how to keep a weight training log: a complete guide. Also, we will explore other aspects of weight training and overall fitness, including an action plan outlining daily workouts for different categories of lifters.

A training log enables you to have all the information required to evaluate your current workout, make necessary changes, track any progress you have made and consistently move forward in your journey to fitness. Not keeping a training log is similar to embarking on a trip to an unknown destination without a GPS or a map; it is highly likely that you will get lost and be very late or probably not end up at your desired destination at all.

If you do end up at the right destination, it would probably be by sheer luck and only after you have wasted a whole lot of energy, effort and time. By logging your training and using the information to design a strategy for future workouts, you will be able to eliminate useless “treading-water” workouts and ensure that every time you work out you does it with purpose.

If properly kept, a training log can assist you in getting more out of your workout. It will assist you in organizing and saving information regarding your exercise regimen so you will be able to work toward a particular goal.

For instance, if you are training to run a marathon, keeping a log could assist you in tracking the way you fare under different weather conditions or how you run when you are following a particular diet. You will also be able to record information concerning the most beautiful routes if you are walking or jogging and want to enjoy the view. Also, your log could push you to get up and work out on those days when you think you are too busy or you are feeling too tired.

Types of Weight Training Log

Your training log does not have to be anything complicated or elaborate. A simple notebook will be enough, or you could use one of several online apps and workout trackers. Whatever you end up choosing, you can be assured that using a fitness training log will provide you with an edge and assist you in reaching your fitness goals way more quickly than you probably ever thought possible.

• Paper

This could be in the form of a regular journal, scrapbook, folder or exercise book.

• Online

This could be in the form of a website, an app, a personal blog or a website.

• Computer

This could take the form of an Excel spreadsheet.

Your training log should contain past workouts and the training you are about to do. Whatever routine you did the last time you worked out, you should attempt to do a bit more in your next session to push your fitness levels to higher heights.

If you find that you have been doing the same workout for longer than eight weeks or notice that your training advances have stalled, it is time to design a new workout strategy to get yourself out of the rut you are currently in.

If you find that you continue to make progress, stick with the effective workout routine you have been doing for a bit longer. However, be prepared to make changes if your progression comes to a stop.

Characteristics of a Good Training Log

Logging your weight training should accomplish certain goals, three of which are:

• Your training log should be useful. Technological advances have flooded our world with an overflow of information and choosing a useful log can become daunting. Try to find a system that records essential information on the work you have done so that your progress can see seen. This will reduce error while you work out and you will also be more effective with your time.

Additionally, your training log will assist you in making make more informed decisions about things to accomplish during your next workout.

• Your training log should be quick and easy, so your time can be focused on exercising. Your valuable time should be invested in getting your training done, not recording it.

• Your training log should be versatile. You shouldn’t have to develop a new system or find a new app every time you want to change your workout style. You should be able to adapt your current logging system to any training style.

Things to Record in Your Weight Training Log

Below is a short rundown on the information that should be recorded:

• Record the distance you have covered in tenths and miles for walking, running or cycling. As it relates to swimming, distance should be recorded in meters or laps.
• Record strength training intensity in pounds
• Record time in fractions, minutes or seconds
• Record personal bests
• Record milestones you have gained on the journey to achieving your ultimate goal
• Record additional details such as split times, whenever helpful

Depending on your level of fitness and training, you might also want to record additional information regarding:

The Physical Condition You are In During Your Workouts

• Track your pulse rate and take two readings, one before the start of your workout and one while you are at the peak of activity. It is important to note that staying within your target heart zone is essential.

• Track your weight, and you will notice that regular exercise assists you in losing extra pounds and maintaining a healthy weight.

• Track the number of hours of sleep you get on a nightly basis. Take note of how your performance is affected by the quality of sleep you get.

• Track your diet, and that could reveal that certain foods boost your performance.

• Pay close attention to any discomfort you experience. Take note of unusual aches and pains.

Workout Conditions

• Take note of the day and time you work out. This information will provide you with a frame of reference and assists you in maintaining consistency.

• Take note of weather conditions; is it cool, hot, pleasant, humid? Making a note of this information will show you the conditions under which you work best.

• Take note of the condition of the equipment or road surface. Make a brief description to use in the future as a reference.

• Take note of the atmosphere; a crowded, noisy gym may cause an increase in tension, while a beautiful view may enhance your performance.

Your Activities

• Take note of the training equipment you used, the route you ran or walked or the cardio exercises you completed.


• Take a record of your thoughts, mood, and feelings and how they are before and after your workout. Note how you felt at the beginning of your workout and see whether your mood was changed by the end of the workout. Jot down your feelings and thoughts. Exercise can have a positive impact on your mood.

Exercise frees some individuals from their everyday worries. Also, it helps them in using their minds more creatively. As such, you should let your thoughts flow from your mind to the pen and onto the pages of your log.

Make a note of Things to Avoid

• For example, you should make a note of the house that has the noisy, crabby dog that barks incessantly every time you walk or run by. You should also make a record of the time of day the lap lanes of the pool you use are typically crowded.

Note Your Favorite Things

• Write down a route you would like to walk or run again. You can also make a record of a pair of shoes that is comfortable to workout in.

Non-Workout Information You Can Log in Your Training Journal

Some non-workout details can be valuable and are worth recording. They can help you in connecting the dots between your lifestyle, workout routines and how you are feeling. This will help you in achieving your weight training and overall fitness goals. After all, working out consistently positively impacts some different areas of our lives; this often happens more than many of us ever imagined possible.

Improvement in chronic health conditions, enhanced mood, better sleep quality, and greater stamina are only a few of the positive ‘side-effects’ of working out regularly. Keeping track of the positive changes could be highly motivational.

Also, a number of these same factors impact how hard we workout or even if we exercise at all. For example, extended shifts at work, fatigue, sleep deprivation, PMS and a persistent poor mood can directly impact how focused we remain on our fitness journey.

Keeping track of these things enables you to notice situations that might be holding you back. Furthermore, it helps you in planning your workouts around the things you recognize will impact your will to exercise or how you perform during the workout.

Additional Non-workout Information You Can Record:

• Body fat percentage or body weight
• Appetite, whether poor, average or good
• Hours of sleep
• Mood, whether poor, average or good
• Motivation, whether poor, average or good
• Energy, whether poor, average or good

Specific Example of Logging Your Workout

With your notebook or app of choice, you can follow the step below:


At the top of the page, you should write the date and your bodyweight, if you so desire. Once you arrive at the gym, make logging a part of your pre-game routine that you go through before working out. For example, you can put on your knee sleeves and lifting shoes, put the date at the top of your journal page, weigh yourself and then take out and put on your lifting belt.


Outline your scheduled workout routine for that day in the format below:

• Exercise
• Weight
• Sets
• Reps

At this point, you can write out what you expect to accomplish for the day. At first, you might need to put some amount of thinking into it or spend some time to find a program you enjoy doing. However, after a time or two, you will find that writing down your workout is quite a fast undertaking.

For some seasoned lifters, this process takes less than a minute. This is because many of them typically measure backward and they base the weights lifted on the day on what they did the week before by simply adding an extra set or 5 additional pounds.

This is a great benefit of using a notebook to log. Your recent exercise logs are merely a page or two pages away so that information can be pulled instantly.

You can write out every set you do, inclusive of warm-up sets, as this will make the workout process even more automatic and mindless. Once you have a plan in place, you will be able to pick up your weights and get started.

In a case where you do not exactly know what weight you will hit, you can leave a few blank spaces under that workout so that you can write the numbers in as you do each set. If you are maxing out on a specific day, you might not know the exact weight you are going to hit.


As your work sets are completed, you should record your tally marks. When you are in the middle of an exercise, it is sometimes easy to forget the number of sets that you just finished. This is particularly true when the barbell or dumbbell gets heavy, and you get too busy huffing and puffing away to remember whether you just completed four sets or 5.

To prevent this occasional lapse in memory, you can use tally marks to make a note of when each set is finished. You can make a quick mark, and then you will always know at which point you are in your workout. Therefore, if you decide to follow this advice, your lifting sequence will look something like this:

• Complete the lift
• Mark a tally
• Start the stopwatch to record your rest interval. (You can use a stopwatch application on your mobile phone to track your rest intervals or glancing at the clock on the gym wall or using a regular stopwatch also works just fine).
• Change the weight for the upcoming set, if necessary
• Repeat


You should vary the basic structure of your workout, as required for the training session. One of the great features of using a notebook is its incredible versatility while remaining simple and clean for any given workout. Meanwhile, most pieces of software and apps are either versatile but full of unnecessary features or simple but limited.

For example, you do not have to add rest intervals to your strength training sessions, especially if the intervals are anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes. However, when you sprint, you can list your rest intervals as it is more essential to the workout. You can add it in the line underneath the exercise.

Things to Record in Your Weight Training Journal

• Time and date of the workout
• Exercises completed
• Weights used during the workout
• Sets
• Reps
• Rest intervals between the sets
• How easy or challenging the workout was

Logging Tips for Cardio Exercises

Keeping an exercise log of your cardio exercises will help you in figuring out approximately how much exercise you are doing and how many calories you are burning each week. This provides a remarkable reality check. Most people tend to over underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how much they exercise; this is a combination that is just asking for trouble.

Keeping a cardio exercise log will help you in sticking to your goals, charting your progress and accomplishing your goals. If you would like to run but have never quite done it consistently, keeping a log will help you to see where you keep falling off and could prevent this from happening. Logging your cardio activities can also motivate you to do well and stick to your fitness plan.

Things to Record in Your Cardio Journal

• Time and date of the workout
• What types of cardio exercises you engaged in
• Duration of your workout
• The intensity of the exercise and your heart rate
• Distance covered while cycling, walking, swimming or rowing
• If cardio equipment was used, write down calories burned, incline, level, resistance and if relevant, you should record the program used; for example, if you used hills on the elliptical, you should make a note of that.
• If your workout took place outdoors, you should make a note of things like the route and weather conditions.
• How easy or challenging the workout was

Pumping Iron: Getting Started

To have information to log, you have to be engaged in weight training. Starting on a strength-training journey is a bit more complicated than merely grabbing your favorite gym wear and some dumbbells and hoisting away; a set program is required. Before you hit the weights, you can check out the tips below to get started the right way:

Set Clear Goals

Your goals should be the main driving force of your strength training program. Follow the SMART acronym and make your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. You should also ensure that both short and long-term objectives are set.

Start Small

When starting, three non-consecutive days a week for 45 minutes should be adequate for most individuals to experience big gains. The risk of injury will skyrocket if you go any longer.

Concentrate On Compound Lifts

Experts advocate for multi-joint exercises like deadlifts and squats to be the backbone of strength training programs. Using these big moves allow lifters to get more accomplished in a shorter time. Additionally, it always pays to concentrate on and master the basics before moving forward.

Prioritize Your Lifts

The most important exercises should be put first. By doing this, fatigue will not compromise your biggest lifts. Typically, compound lifts should be first with more isolated work being done towards the end of the session.

Keep Your Eye on the Clock

Your rest intervals should be limited between sets to maximize your efficiency. The following guidelines can be used:

• For six reps or fewer, you should rest for 2 or 3 minutes
• For over six reps, you should rest for 75 seconds or less

Combine Strength and Cardio

Experts recommend doing back-to-back exercises or supersets to maximize the benefits you get from strength and cardio. By doing compound lifts in a superset, you will get your heart rate up and an amazing cardio workout while on the floor of the weight room.

Keep a Log of All Workouts

Keeping track of sets, reps, and types of exercises is vital for identifying progress and realizing when the time comes to increase the intensity. Make a note of the reps, sets, and weights used.

Vary the Program

Do not do the same routine for over six weeks. Lifters are advised to switch up the program to avoid becoming bored and plateauing, which is essentially going for extended periods without any noticeable results.

Do Not Avoid the Extras

It is important to make time for warm-up activities like stretching and foam rolling to help in preventing injuries or the tightening up of your muscles.

Effective Weight Training Action Plan

Whether you have 3, 4 or 5 days to dedicate to training, the following programs will assist you in making the most out of going to the gym:

3 Days Per Week: Total Body Routine

Why it Works

This program works because, during each workout, it targets all major muscle groups, yielding maximum gains in a short period.

What to Do?

Do between 2 and three sets of 10 to 12 reps of the exercises below. It is important to note that A and B exercises should be performed back-to-back as supersets. Between each exercise, you should rest for 60 seconds.

Day One (Monday)

• 1A Deadlift using a barbell
• 1B Bench Press using a dumbbell

• 2A Lunge using dumbbells or bodyweight
• 2B) Shoulder Press using a single-arm dumbbell

• 3A Leg Press
• 3B Do a plank and hold for 30 to 45 seconds

Day Two (Wednesday)

• 1A Back Squat using a barbell
• 1B Chin-up assisted or using bodyweight

• 2A Single-arm row using a dumbbell
• 2B Single-leg hamstring curl using a stability ball

• 3A Side lunges using dumbbells or bodyweight
• 3B Reverse Crunch

Day Three (Friday)

• 1A Front squat with a barbell
• 1B Inverted Row

• 2A Single-leg deadlift using a dumbbell
• 2B Incline bench press using a dumbbell

• 3A Reverse lunge using dumbbells or bodyweight
• 3B Do a side plank and hold it for 30 to 45 seconds

4 Days Per Week: Upper and Lower Body Split

Why it Works

This program works because dedicating concentrated time to upper, and lower body exercises mean more detail and specificity for each workout, resulting in fast progress and significant gains.

What to Do?

Do between 2 and three sets of 10 to 12 reps of the exercises below. It is important to note that A and B or A, B and C exercises should be performed back-to-back as supersets. Between each exercise, you should rest for 60 seconds.

Day 1 (Monday) – Lower Body

• 1 Back squat using a barbell

• 2A Walking lunge using dumbbells or bodyweight
• 2B Lying hamstring curl

• 3A Leg Presses
• 3B Calf Raise
• 3C Do a plank and hold it for 30 to 45 seconds

Day 2 (Tuesday) – Upper Body

• 1 Chin-up assisted or using bodyweight

• 2A Single-arm row using a dumbbell
• 2B Incline bench press using a dumbbell

• 3A Chest fly using cable
• 3B Bicep curl using a barbell
• 3C Reverse crunch

Rest on Wednesday and then on Thursday and Friday repeat the workouts you did on Monday and Tuesday.

5 Days Per Week: Body Part Split

Why it Works

This program works because dedicating particular days to different body parts enables a targeted approach to muscle building and getting desired results.

What to Do?

Do between 2 and three sets of 10 to 12 reps of the exercises below. It is important to note that A and B or A, B and C exercises should be performed back-to-back as supersets. Between each exercise, you should rest for 60 seconds.

Day 1 (Monday) Chest/Triceps

1 Bench press using dumbbells

• 2A Incline press using a dumbbell
• 2B Dips

• 3A Chest fly using cable
• 3B Triceps Pushdown
• 3C Do a plank

Day 2 (Tuesday) Lower Body

• 1 Squats using barbell

• 2A Single-leg deadlift
• 2B Do some lunges

• 3A Leg presses
• 3B Glute hamstring raises
• 3C Calf raises

Day 3 (Wednesday) Back/Biceps

• 1 Pull-Up

• 2A Single-arm row using a dumbbell
• 2B Reverse fly using a dumbbell

• 3A Pullover using a dumbbell
• 3B Bicep curl using cable
• 3C Face Pull

Day 4 (Friday) Lower Body

• 1 Deadlift using barbell

• 2A Single-leg squats
• 2B Lunges

• 3A Leg presses
• 3B Calf raises
• 3C Planks

Day 5 (Saturday) Shoulders/Abs

• 1 Push press using a barbell

• 2A Seated shoulder press using a dumbbell
• 2B Lateral raise using a dumbbell

• 3A Walk 50 feet and complete a ‘Farmer’s Walk.’
• 3B Roll-Out
• 3C Walk 50 feet and complete an ‘Overhead Waiter’s Carry.’

Bear in mind exercise is merely a part of the complete fitness equation. Feeding your proper body nutrition and getting quality sleep consistently are needed to maximize the results you get from all of your sweat sessions.

To remain focused on achieving your weight training and other fitness goals, you should vary the number of set and reps you perform every few weeks; this will help to keep your body guessing and prevent boredom.

Mainly, you should keep your workouts progressing to avoid hitting a plateau, and you can transform your body into a lean, mean strength-training machine.

Whether you are doing strength training or circuits, you should keep a log that makes a note of the weights you used, exercises you completed, the sets and reps you carried out and how you felt during and after the workout.

If the training session went remarkably well, make a note of it to remind yourself to take your workout to a higher level. This could include using heavier weights and doing harder exercises in your next workout session.

If things did not go as planned, make a note of that to remind yourself to make things a bit easier, if necessary or keep them at the same level. Pay attention to how many times a particular workout has been repeated and whether progress is still being made.

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How To Keep A Weight Training Log: Complete Guide

Tomasz Faber

HI, MY NAME IS TOMASZ, and welcome to my site I’m a weightlifter, and I’m very much interested in health and fitness subjects. Throughout a few years of my weightlifting training, and diet experience, I managed to make my body much, much stronger, as well as build endurance and athletic figure. I live in London, UK, where I enjoy my weightlifting more...

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