10 Tips for an Effective Training Journal

by Gabriel “gaberock” Avilla, CF-L2

After being in this CrossFit thing of ours since 2010 and currently throwing down as a second-degree Master’s athlete (40-44-year-olds, LFG!), I have an affinity for writing things down “analog style” and documenting my training programs in a training journal. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of benefits to having an app like SugarWOD to document, share, and reference your past performance in the palm of your hand. Keep doing that. But also…there are tons of benefits to using a hard-copy journal to capture even more data points along your fitness journey. Not only do you get the tangible document that may or may not have your literal blood, sweat, and tears embedded into the fibers of the book, but you can also add some other journaling areas that aren’t as convenient to track on your phone. You can purchase pre-formatted journals, look up some references, or just buy a blank journal and figure it out. Don’t overthink it: create the habit first and then upgrade your journaling prowess over time.

Here are 10 quick tips on how to level up your training journal:

  1. Long-term vision – Maintain a monthly or longer “at a glance” page to plan and track your training at a high level, including rest days, strength workouts, metcons, and time domains.
  2. Optimal time of day to train – Take note of how you feel when you work out at different times of the day to identify your optimal training time.
  3. Simplify eating habits – Instead of a detailed food journal, use a simple numeric rating to record your daily eating habits, such as giving yourself a score out of 5 for clean eating.
  4. Chip away at weaknesses – Create a separate page to track progress on specific movements and workouts, allowing you to easily monitor long-term progress and identify trends.
  5. Big and small wins count – Log and celebrate your achievements on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis to stay motivated and recognize your progress.
  6. Time-bound goals – Set specific and measurable goals with target dates, such as adding 50 pounds to your deadlift by August 31st.
  7. Focus and finish – Dedicate a page in your journal for major performance goals and review them frequently to stay focused and accountable.
  8. Deliberate reviews – Schedule specific intervals (three, six, nine, and 12 months) to review your goals, ensuring accountability and closing the loop on your progress.
  9. Consistent progress – Use your training log as a short and long-term plan to establish a consistent and purposeful approach, paying attention to all the little details.
  10. Prioritize yourself – Plan your CrossFit training in advance by scheduling blocks of time, taking into account other life demands, and reserving specific days for focusing on weaknesses and skills (goat work).

Bonus Tip: Pre-schedule recovery days in advance to resist the temptation of squeezing in additional workouts and prioritize rest and recovery for optimal performance.

By following these 10 quick tips, you can effectively utilize your training journal to plan, track, and evaluate your progress, ultimately helping you achieve your fitness goals in a structured and organized manner.

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