There is an abundance of fitness information out there, which is awesome, as we can learn a lot from these resources; the problem is that many times we find that this information can be contradictory. As an example we can find experts both supporting the 100 sit-ups workout and calling it broscience. Under such a situation, it is very easy for anyone to get confused about what to follow.
We should understand that it is not that these experts are deliberately misguiding us. According to their experience they observed something and now they recommend it to everyone with all good intentions. So what is the way of getting out of the broscience confusion and make intelligent decisions on which workout routine to follow. The wisdom under such a situation is to keep an open mind to everything and decide based on our own experience.
In our previous blog we mentioned that everyone should change his or her workout routine every 8-12 weeks. This way we ensure that we are avoiding plateaus and constantly making progress. In that blog we mentioned a bunch of strategies we can use to change our workout. However instead of randomly changing the workout it is far more effective to change the workout intelligently according to our specific situation. This is where the importance of maintaining a fitness log comes in. Every program should have a goal in mind. At the end of each program, which should last no more than 12 weeks, we should evaluate how much progress was made towards our fitness goal. Maintaining a fitness log can do this.
As an example if we start a workout program with a goal to gain mass then before starting our workout program we should log the size of all the major muscle groups. This includes, Shoulders, Chest, Arms, Forearms, Belly, Hips, Thighs and Calves. After completing the workout program we should repeat this measurement. By comparing the two measurements we can evaluate how much mass we gained for each muscle group. This will show us how effective our workout program was towards achieving its objective and where it fell short. Such fitness log will provide clues on what to focus on in the next program. For instance one might observe that in the process of building mass they have also gained fat and may decide to focus more on cutting fat in their next program
As another example, we might start a workout program with an intention of building strength. Under such a situation we need to keep a log of the amount of weight we can lift in the three major lifts, bench-press, squats and deadlift. We must log our numbers before starting the program and after we finished it. This way we will know how strong we have become after completing the program. We can also compare our strength charts with standard strength charts and figure out which area of strength we are lagging in. We can then focus more on our weak aspects in the next workout program. For example we might observe that we are strong in squats and deadlift but our bench-press is lagging. In such a case, for our next workout, we may decide to focus more on our upper body strength as opposed to lower body.
Maintaining a fitness log therefore is a critical part of any workout program, just as defining our goals is. Through our fitness log we can figure out the efficiency of our workout. We can then make an intelligent decision on our next program without getting confused by the information overload.
Although all of our recommendations are based on scientific research, you must realize that even scientific research has its limitations. We do not recommend you to follow our recommendations blindly. On this blog we will provide a variety of fitness information without any bias towards a particular approach, as we cannot know what will work for you and what will not. In the end it will be your responsibility to experiment and see how you respond to different approaches. This way you yourself will know what works for you and what doesn’t.
The strategy we recommend is to start off with a program, which suits our needs. After every 4-6 weeks we should evaluate if the program is giving us expected results by evaluating our fitness log. If we get the expected results, we continue to intensify our workout. If on the contrary we notice that we are plateauing then based on our fitness log we change our workout. After 12 weeks, even if a workout is giving us results, we still change our workout. Same approach should be applied to our diet.
To summarize, fitness is a process of trial and error, where we try something and then evaluate how our body responds to it. Maintaining a fitness log is an absolute must for designing efficient workouts, otherwise we will just be shooting in the dark.