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3 Reasons to Log Your Workouts

A version of this article originally appeared on Derby City CrossFit.

Have you ever come into the gym, looked at the whiteboard to see we’re doing 5-5-5-5-5 of cleans then said to yourself “I don’t know what weight I can clean 5 times?” Tracking your workouts and progress allows you to answer that question, even if you’ve never done 5 cleans in a row.  At CrossFit Slipstream, we encourage all of our athletes to use a WODLog, phone app, or calendar to track your day to day WOD results, progress, and other data that helps you understand the context of those results. This allows you to get an accurate picture of how your fitness is improving, where your weaknesses may lie, and how CrossFit is contributing to your health, wellness, and longevity.

Related: How Do I Create Lasting Change in My Life?

Here are three key reasons to log results:

1)  Build a Reference Guide

If you’re still in your first year of CrossFit, then logging your workouts is even more important, because doing so can help you process what you just learned/experienced in class. You’re repeating terminology to yourself, which helps you learn it faster.  Finally, you’re building a reference guide that you can refer back to when you need to remember weights used, reps scaled, or otherwise modified in an old workout – the context of your results. It can be hard to remember which kettlebell you used or how heavy last week’s snatches were, so having a journal can give you an accurate answer quickly.

Keep a Journal

2)  Measuring Progress

Measuring progress gives us perspective and allows us to appreciate the journey in our training, not just the destination.  Seeing the progress allows you to see and appreciate the results of your hard work.  You’ll also feel more like an athlete — can you imagine a serious lifter not knowing their previous best lifts?  Or a serious runner not knowing their old PR’s for a given distance?  Nope.  Athletes know where they’ve been, and it helps them plot their futures.

3)  Self Analysis and Discovery

My log includes not just my training weights and WOD times, but also notes about rep patterns, where I thought I could push harder in the WOD, areas where I slowed and shouldn’t have, sleep, food intake, stress levels, etc.  Writing seemingly trivial things down has amazing potential for not only improving training, but also learning to manage what really matters: life. For example, let’s say that Monday’s workout was really tough on you, and you don’t know why.  If you kept a record of some events happening in your week, then you can discover patterns. Maybe you’re really stressed out from a work project or a personal relationship issue. Maybe you’ve been partying too much on the weekends. Maybe you’ve stopped prepping your meals. Your log can help you determine if you tend to have bad workouts on Mondays and identify a possible cause.  You can then face the decisions that may need to result from that discovery.

Related: How Do I Stay Consistent with My Fitness?

Start small by recording the WOD, your score, and any important variables like weights or the version of pull-ups you did.  As keeping the log becomes more of a habit, write down more variables like mobility work you performed pre- and post-WOD.  Over time, you’ll find out what extra info is important to you, how to use it to set goals and stay accountable, and what impact it will ultimately have on your progress.  Happy logging.

—John Bryant

Founder & Head Trainer

john@crossfitslipstream.com