Your Training Log | Mark Rippetoe

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Your Training Log

by Mark Rippetoe | April 16, 2024

A
process
is defined as a
series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular
objective.” “
Training”
is the process of increasing your physical capacity to perform.
Whether your performance is in a competitive sport or staying out of
a rest home, the process is the same: start where you are now and
increase the load a small manageable amount on a regular basis, so
that you gradually accumulate
the adaptation you’re training for. The process for this mechanism is
encoded in your DNA, and is therefore within the reach of everybody.
If you’re not improving your performance, you’re either not trying,
you’re doing it wrong, or you’ve been training so long that the fruit
has already been picked.

“Practice”
is also a process, but practice increases skill in performance
through the accurate repetition of movements that are already within
your physical capacity, whereas training increases the actual
physical capacity by causing the tissues of the body to adapt to a
higher work output. Skill increases more slowly than physical
capacity, but both can be improved faster than you think they can if
you view each as a process.

Since
training is a
process used to accumulate a physical adaptation, each action or step
is predicated on the previous one, and ultimately on all
of the previous actions that have resulted in the current accumulated
level of adaptation. It is therefore imperative that you know what
all of the previous actions were, so that subsequent actions can
correctly drive an adaptation. They must be incrementally increasing
along a gradient that forces the body to adapt: over time, training
must get harder. But the incremental increases must not exceed your
capacity for adaptation: if the gradient is too steep, you cannot
adapt – you just get stuck.

Your
training log regulates this process. Every time you record today’s
workout you compare it to the last workout, and the process-aspect of
training becomes obvious. Your training log is graphic evidence of
your increase in performance. As you become further advanced in your
training, it allows the organization of the variations in your
workouts that drive continued post-novice progress. And if you get
stuck, the data allows a more experienced eye to help you determine
the cause of the problem.

Do
not be one of these fools who think they can remember all their
workouts. This is physically impossible. And my advice is to record
your workouts in a paper log book – something that cannot crash.
Your phone can crash, like your tablet or your laptop. You know this
is true, so just buy a notebook and keep it in your gym bag, and
record every workout set-by-set before you leave the gym, every time,
without exception. Record everything – date, day of the week, time
of day, dietary status, medical status, injury status, rest status,
lab results, misses, makes, form errors, injuries, equipment, both
personal and gym, spotters, their compliments and criticisms, and
your own impression of the work.

Your
training log is the database of your training, and is the most
important factor controlling your continued progress. If you don’t
know exactly what you did, you can’t know what actually happened, and
you won’t know what’s going to happen next. If something good
happened, you need to know, and if something bad happened, the data
can tell you why.

If
you don’t keep a training log, you’re just fucking around in the gym.
Which is fine if that’s all you want to do, but it’s not as
productive as actual training. 


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