What Is a Fitness Journal? And Is it Key to Your Fitness?

Fitness Journaling

A fitness journal just may be the secret to attaining the goals you have for yourself inside and outside the gym. It’s amazing what a simple tool like a fitness journal can do for your motivation and progress.

What is a Fitness Journal?

A fitness journal could be considered somewhat of a diary, documenting your daily progress with your training and diet. It’s also a wonderful place, depending on the type of journal you decide to use, to list out other life goals and track your progress toward them. As the greats in coaching say, “Things that get measured improve!” So it is with your fitness goals.

Tracking, measuring, and planning will help you see the path ahead of you so you can make adjustments along the way and be successful on your journey.

5 Benefits of Using a Fitness Journal

1. Keep You Goal-Focused

At the beginning of any new endeavor, it can be easy to feel energetic and motivated because you’re off to the races and excitement levels are high. It’s once the monotony of actually doing the daily tasks sets in that motivation can wane. This is when having your goals written down in front of you can help you stay on track and remotivate you to keep pushing.

2. Always Know What You’re Doing at the Gym

Listening to good old Ben Franklin’s advice, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” will take you far in life. And the same principles apply to your diet and exercise programs. Always operate from a plan, so you don’t find yourself feeling lost at the gym, not knowing what to do next, and making no progress.

Having a plan will 100% help you move forward with your goals. Consider it a step-by-step chart, helping you achieve what you desire. All you have to do, once you have a plan, is follow the steps.

3. Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress is essential. First, it’s critical that you document where you’re starting. After all, if you don’t know where you started, you’ll never be able to celebrate how far you’ve come! So, put down all your beginning stats and then track the changes in your journal as you go along.

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4. Know if What You are Doing is Working

After all, if you’re working really hard, but what you’re doing is not effective, then what’s the point? Keeping track of what you’ve been doing will allow you to look back and analyze the effectiveness of your program. For example, maybe you’ve noticed that every time you add jogging to your cardio program, you tend to lose body fat more rapidly. Thus, if losing body fat is your goal, then you may want to ensure you include more jogging in your program.

In order to progress, it’s important to do a little bit better in your current workout than you did in your last. Keep in mind, though, that we all have good days and bad, so it’s only natural for there to be some ebb and flow. The goal then is for the trend line to continue to improve, even with occasional dips, by being as consistent as absolutely possible.

To continue to improve, for example, add a couple of minutes to your cardio sessions or increase the intensity of your workout. For resistance training, you’ll want to aim for one or more of the following: more reps, shorter rest time, more weight. Track your progress as you go and watch how quickly you can improve your strength and fitness levels!

5. Hold Yourself Accountable

Keeping a fitness journal lets you see, in black and white, when and where you’re slacking off, where you can improve, and again, exactly how far you’ve come!

Types of Fitness Journals

Of course, you can find just about any type of fitness journal you can think of. Numerous online apps are available to help you track your fitness journey. Typically, you can plug your stats right into your phone as you’re working out. And, if you’re not interested in using an app, you can always opt for good old pen and paper, whether that’s an official journal or simply a notebook.

What is a Fitness Journal

How to Use a Fitness Journal to Make Progress

Step 1: Define Your Goals

Use your planner as a motivational tool. Start with your whys. What is the overall reason why you are ready to make physical changes in your body?

One of the best techniques is known as “the 5 Whys.” It goes like this:

  • Step 1: Start with your goal (such as, I want to improve my fitness levels).
  • Step 2: Ask yourself why you want to accomplish that goal (for example: “Why do I want to improve my fitness? Because I want to feel better and be more energetic.”).
  • Step 3: Ask yourself if this is the root why—the deep-down reason you want to accomplish that goal. If not, ask yourself why again (for example: “Why do I want to feel better and more energetic? Because I am sick of feeling exhausted every night after work and missing out on fun activities.)
  • Step 4: Repeat (usually a total of 5 times) until you get to the core why.

Examine all the reasons why you want to do this and reflect upon these before your workouts and if you’re not feeling motivated.

Step 2: Break Big Goals Into Bite-Sized Chunks

Looking at your desired outcome from the endpoint can be downright overwhelming. But, when you are able to break it down into bite-sized chunks, it becomes manageable and doable.

Step 3: Create a Plan of Attack

If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never know if you have arrived. When you create a definite plan, you’ll have steps to follow along the way. You can start by looking at your desired outcome, for example: run a 5K in under 40 minutes by Thanksgiving. Then, work backward to determine how to design a program to hit your goal. Next, break those into weekly and monthly goals and then into the actions that will get you where you need to go.

Step 4: Track your Progress

Look at what you’re doing and how it’s helping you (or not helping you) move toward your goals. If something does not seem to be effective, change it to something more helpful. For example, if you’ve only been doing 15 minutes of cardio 3 times a week, try doing cardio 5 times a week, or changing one workout each week to a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session.

Give yourself a few weeks to track your progress and see if your results improve. If not, go back to the drawing board and change something until you have success.

What to Look for in a Fitness Journal

What should you look for in a fitness journal? The most important thing is to find a journal you will actually use. If you are not the type of person who uses apps on your phone, then by all means, get a paper and pencil type of planner. The most important thing is to find what works best for you, is convenient, and fits into your lifestyle. Then use it.

What Should You Track?

You can track as much or as little as you like. The more measureables you have, however, the better able you will be to adjust your plan to meet your needs and achieve your goals. You can track your physical stats like body weight and measurements as well as your gym stats like time spent jogging or how much you’re lifting (along with sets and reps) for each exercise.

Is It the Secret to Your Success?

Yes, actually, it IS! What gets measured and monitored improves. Without tracking, you have no shot at knowing where you started, how far you’ve come, and which methods got you where you are. So, yes, a fitness journal really is your secret to success when it comes to making progress with your fitness program and achieving your goals.