OK, this post has been a long time coming and here is the article in a nutshell for those who don’t want to read any further: if you aren’t tracking your workouts, you’re missing out on many of the benefits of CrossFit.
Tracking your workouts is important. It helps you find your strengths, identify your weaknesses, make sense of why your performance may’ve decreased (or increased) during a period of time (oh, I switched to strict Paleo for a while and my strength went down, or “gee, I was fighting the flu those couple weeks, or “wow, look how much my squat went up after our Wendler cycles…”) and it helps you recognize your gains.
If you’ve worked out with us for even a couple weeks you notice that a lot of what we program is based on percentages of your 1RM (one rep max, or the heaviest weight you can successfully lift one time for that particular exercise). The purpose of this goes deep into exercise physiology and the science of progressive training, so don’t worry about it, but if you don’t know your 1RM, you’re going to be randomly throwing weight on a bar and hoping for the best.
The end result of training without tracking is that you will invariably be working too hard at some times and not hard enough at others and the end result is… well… very little.
And please note that workout tracking is not just for people who are trying to get jacked and tan or compete in fitness model competitions. I do none of the above and I’ve been tracking every workout for a year and a half. Not because I’m elite (LOL) but because of all the reasons I gave you above. It’s incredibly motivating and I make sure that I maximize my time in the gym so I see some tangible results and I don’t ever question whether my hard-earned dollars are really amounting to anything or not.
I track workouts both by paper and by computer and it only takes a couple minutes. I prefer Journal Menu’s paper journals because the craftsmanship is awesome and you can customize EVERYTHING about it from graphics (send in your own pics if you want), quotes, the kind of pages and inserts you want right down to the color of the binding coil. Erica truly offers a menu of options and they are incredible. Mine was 1.5 years old in the photos I took for this article and you can see how great it still looks. For what it’s worth, I’m partial to the “Sophocles 2 per page” workout pages, so if you want to see how it looks I always have my journal with me in at CrossFit I35. I also keep my PR’s and 1RM’s in one of JM’s “PR Books.” This is a small (about 1/2 the size of the regular journal) book a bit bigger than an index card that is set up to record all your maxes, PR’s, benchmark WOD times, etc so you have a quick and easy index of this important info without having to find it in your main journal. This can also be fully customized and the few dollars is well worth the convenience.
Finally, use Zen Planner to track your times and weights, too. It’s not perfect and it’s not quite as good as Beyond the White Board, but it will get there because the ZP team is working hard on making it the best. Once you start putting data into the Zen Planner system you’ll be able to see graphics and comparisons of your times and weights and performances over time. It only takes a few seconds at the end of each workout and any trainer will show you how to do it.
Start tracking in Zen Planner TODAY and get yourself an awesome new custom journal and PR book as a reward for your working out and then use them. It’s easy and it’s necessary.
Contributed by Steve Agocs, D.C., SFMA, FMT, CF-L1. Steve Agocs is a CrossFit I35 athlete and trainer as well as chiropractor, educator and author with special interest in functional movement.