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Keeping a notebook is key to workout success

This is an excerpt from The Strength Training Anatomy Workout by Frederic Delavier and Michael Gundill.

Keep a Workout Notebook

It is very important to keep a workout notebook. You should organize this notebook so that each day of training corresponds to a section of the notebook.

For example, if you exercise three times a week, your notebook will be divided into three parts. In this way, you can easily see the work you did during your previous training for the muscle groups that you are going to work again.

A small box should be reserved for your workout start time. Below it, write the time you finish. Then you will know exactly how much time you worked out. Time measurement is important because if you rest longer between sets, your performance may increase, but it will not necessarily mean you have gained strength. To really compare two workouts, they must be approximately the same duration.

Your notebook must be as precise as possible without being difficult to maintain. Here is one example:



22 lbs: 15 reps
26 lbs: 12 reps
30 lbs: 8 reps
35 lbs: 3 reps
Time: 8 min

In this way you know which muscle was worked (biceps) with which exercise (curls). Then you find the weight. Normally, people write the weight lifted by a single arm. We could have written 40 lbs, which is the total weight lifted by both the left and the right arms. You can decide how you want to track the information. What is important is to stick to the method you have chosen and not write 20 lbs one day and 40 lbs the next.

22 lbs

Right: 15 reps

Left: 14 reps

End the entry with the total training time for the muscle (biceps) so you can compare your performance from week to week. As you lift heavier weights, you have a tendency to take longer rest periods between sets. By noting the training time for each muscle, you help prevent yourself from taking rest breaks that are too long.

Keep all the muscles and all the exercises separate. This way you will know exactly what your goals are for your next workout.

Analyze Your Workouts

After each workout, you should examine your training session and ask yourself these questions:

> What worked well?

> What did not work well?

> Why did it not work well?

> How can I make things work better during my next workout?

If you revisit the previous example, here is a sample analysis that you should do for each muscle before your next workout:

> Start with a heavier weight, because the first set may have been too easy (you could do more than 15 repetitions).

> Carry the extra weight through to the second and third sets.

> In the third set, the muscle was starting to get tired, because four repetitions instead of three were lost for an increase in four pounds. So you will need to hang on to get past this fatigue.

> For the last set, the loss of strength is accentuated with a loss of five repetitions for four pounds in additional weight. You should slow down the rate of increase so that you can do more repetitions without using less weight than last time. The new workout would look like this:


24 lbs: 14 reps
28 lbs: 11 reps
33 lbs: 9 reps
35 lbs: 6 reps

Time: 8 min

The goal for the next workout will be to increase the weight by two pounds over the last set without losing repetitions. Over three workouts, it will be easy to evaluate your progress.


22 lbs: 15 reps
26 lbs: 12 reps

30 lbs: 8 reps
35 lbs: 3 reps
Time: 8 min

22 lbs: 14 reps
28 lbs: 11 reps
33 lbs: 9 reps
35 lbs: 6 reps
Time: 8 min


24 lbs: 15 reps
28 lbs: 12 reps
33 lbs: 10 reps
37 lbs: 6 reps
Time: 8 min

The pattern that develops over a month, more than one workout to the next, will help you adjust your training program. If the figures increase regularly, then all is well! If the increases slow down, then you must take action by doing one or both of the following:

> Changing exercises

> Taking more time to rest between workouts

In case of a persistent loss of strength, you will need to lighten the workload and increase your number of rest days.

Only a well-kept workout notebook can precisely quantify the evolution of your performance. Do not trust your memory. Of course you can remember past workouts. But how will you remember what you have accomplished in one month? In addition, if you change exercises, how will you remember your past performance when you begin doing that exercise again one or two months later? The workout notebook will be the best record of your progress as well as an ally in creating your future training programs.

Read more about The Strength Training Anatomy Workout.

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The Strength Training Anatomy Workout

The Strength Training Anatomy Workout


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The Strength Training Anatomy Workout
The Strength Training Anatomy Workout offers 200-plus exercises and 50 programs for strength, power, sport performance, shaping, and toning.

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