Thursday, October 6, 2016

What is the Best Way to Track Your Workouts


Mine, of course. Just kidding. I haven’t tried them all so I can’t judge fairly and definitively say one method or application is better than another. I can show you some general methods and guidelines and tell you what I like and don’t like and some applications that have a good reputation or bad reputation.

You are logging your workouts aren’t you?

A lot depends on the type of workout you are tracking; jogging, endurance, body weight, cardio, walking, resistance training, swimming or just chasing the cat around the house.

A word of caution about the readings you get from cardio machines. They are almost certainly wrong. Read thisl

Electronic Wearable Trackers

These range in price from us$100 to almost us$400. They don’t have a very good reputation for accuracy. The last time I checked, some had an error rate of almost 40%. About the only accurate thing on some of them is the GPS distance measurements. Things like heart-rate, calorie burn and sleep tracking can be way off the mark. Also note that not all are compatible with all computer operating systems. Also battery life can be as little as 4 or 5 hours if you’re using the GPS function and some are not waterproof.

If this is what you’re looking for you’d be better served by referring to one of the PC or electronic publications.

Phone Applications

As you would imagine, there are dozens of phone apps available for free or a small monthly charge. Many are very specialized by activity, running the gamut from resistance training to yoga.

I have looked at these in slightly more detail. I don’t like the ones that plan your workout for you or give you several workouts to choose from. Most or just “out-of –the box”, one size fit all workouts that are more fluff than serious workouts.

One that I do like is Fitted Lifts (ios only).  I have a friend that uses it so I have looked at it in some detail. It lets you pick your own lifts from a list grouped by body-part. You can record reps/sets/weight. The app has a timer for rest periods and will put your progress in graph or table form. But it is limited when it comes to recording tempo, drop sets, rest pause and other intensity sets.

Here again, I’ll refer you to someone more familiar with this subject; Tom's Guide

My major objection to phone apps is that you have to have your phone out.  If I had the money for all the phones that been dropped, stepped on, sat on, laid on or just disappeared I could probably open my own gym.

Besides, if you have your phone you’re more likely to use it for other reasons and waste a ton of time, take up space on the bench and generally annoy everyone around you.

Notebook-The paper kind!

Most people prefer just a plain spiral bound or loose leaf notebook. It’s simple, effective and gives you plenty of room to record more than just sets/reps and weights. How do you feel today? Short on sleep? Drink a little too much last night? Shoulders sore? Did you have to skip an exercise? Why?
You can also save them to refer back to in the future for a variety of reasons.

My Solution

I use a spread sheet (either Microsoft Office or Google Sheets) Each day’s workouts is printed in a small strip containing ( in order) my 1RM, planned sets, planned reps (range), % of 1RM for that exercise, planned weight (calculated automatically by multiplying my 1 RM x % of 1RM), actual weight, and actual reps are penciled in using a short pencil like you get for your scorecard at a golf course.

Since I almost always use one or more intensity sets like drop sets or rest-pause I can enter up to 3 different %’s of 1RM, automatically calculate the planned weight and record the information for those extended sets also.

There is a comment section at the end.

So, instead of a notebook, I carry a strip of paper about 2 inches wide and 10 inches long and a 3 inch pencil.

At the end of the day I input the information on the computer (takes about 5 minutes) and I’m done.

Sorry I can't show it here. It prints horizontally on a grid and would be too small to read.

If you are interested, email me at and I’ll send you a working blank copy.

So stop wasting your time and go log your workouts!

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