Monday, January 7, 2013

One simple tip for 2013

'Tis the season for crowded gyms, as millions of Americans resolve to lose weight and get in shape in 2013.  Fitness writers are aware of the craze and fill their magazines and websites with tips to help you stick with it and reach your goals.

Sadly, most gyms are back to normal by Valentine's day, and the cycle will repeat itself again next year. Maybe it's because people set their goals too high, or they need to first address the eating, sleep and time management habits they've built in their lives before they can expect to see results in the gym. In any case, I'm offering one simple but vital tip to all my athletes in 2013.

Keep a training log.

Recording of what you do in the gym is the single most effective way to make steady progress towards your goals. It allows you to measure where you're going, because you know where you've been. For example, when one of my high school football players box-squatted 265 for three reps last week we knew he was doing something right because it was a 50-pound improvement from  three weeks prior, when we began working together.

In the short term, your training log will take the guesswork out of your next session. When you look back and see that you performed three sets of eight pull-ups last week, you'll find a way to add a ninth rep this week.

In the long-term, you'll have months and eventually years of data to analyze. When your progress slows, you can compare your current training plan to what you were doing when you were making steady gains. If you sustain an injury, you can look for differences in exercise selection, volume and recovery that may help you identify the problem. Two years ago a pitcher came to me searching for a way to sustain his velocity throughout his entire college season. The first thing I had him do was write down the last year of his training. He'd never kept a training log before, and after writing it down we both saw several red flags, like abandoning lower body strength work in-season and a direct relationship between training volume and body weight. Long before we met face to face, our plan to improve his performance was already taking shape.

Just as a low batting average suggests you get in the cage or the number on the scale tells you to put down the fork, a training log keeps you focused on your progress and provides the data you need to make informed decisions. Start one today and smash your goals in 2013.

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