Critical logging rule #1
- Don’t log it unless you already know exactly what you’ll use it for.
If you’re replacing a part in your car that’s buried under a bunch of other parts, you need to know how to put the pieces back together again after you dig its guts out. So you log the deconstruction steps by taking pictures with your smartphone and keeping a couple notes.
So when you log your training/diet, you should get the same feeling of urgency you get when you do something like take apart your car to repair it. If you don’t get that feeling of urgency, then you won’t use your training/diet log.
Critical logging rule#2
- Your log should be written in the same style as a “to-do” list.
The whole purpose of any log is to make something change for the better. If the entries in your log are not outright telling you to do something specific like in “to-do” list fashion, then they will be worthless.
The guide for using the 2 rules
From today forward you will stop logging things in case you may need them one day. You won’t need them if you have that mentality. Instead, you will create “improvement” logs. Improvement logs are actually impossible to create unless you follow the 2 rules. Start an improvement log by thinking of something you want to get better at or progress in the short or short-medium term by defining a concrete goal. The log’s exact purpose is that goal. Next get a medium sized notebook with only a few pages and write that goal on the front.
In this log you write down anything and everything you can consider, change, do, etc. in order to get the goal. The improvement log is a battleground, not a file cabinet room. When you log something in this booklet it must follow rule #2: anything you write must be in the same style as a “to-do” list. It must command you. All results you happen to log must be recorded as another commanding thing “to-do” …
Do you want a training example? I’m training to get the backflip. I create an improvement log for getting the backflip. Today I try it on a mattress and wuss out. I write in my improvement log the date, what I did, how long, time for warmup, etc. The key is that after all this I write down something like: “from my experience today, I need to study the technique more. And warm up longer. So another hour tomorrow (Tuesday) during break for technique study and try it again Wednesday arriving a little earlier to fully warmup.” … The log is moving me forward because I’m writing data in a way that directs me. If all I write is “I tried 10 backflip reps after a 20 minute warmup” that isn’t commanding me. It’s useless. With an improvement log approach, I record only data that drives me. All along the way I can write down useful ideas and actions I can put into play to move me forward to my goal. This isn’t just reps, sets, and shit like that. It’s whatever I think of that may help, and the actions associated with those seemingly helpful things. Finally, the log has served its purpose when I land the backflip. It then expires by virtue of The 1 essential logging truth. The log book is then thrown into a big pile with other little log books like it and burnt. erhh… I mean… allowed to let dust collect on it forever-more and take up valuable space. Or you can recycle it.
Again, I recommend smaller log books in general. Big journals or books with lots of pages seem to encourage the mindset of the log haul useless data logging approach. Useful logs are steps. Steps are short. Keep your log books short like these steps. Instead of a large, general “training” log, you instead have a small, specific log to move you towards getting one skill, or breaking one big PR, or competing in one contest. All in the very near future. Once you get to these places, the logs expires, you retire them, and you start new ones. Logs are consumables, one step at a time. One log at a time. It’s a psychological shift. Lots of empty pages encourages data accumulation. We don’t want lots of data we want useful data. We want the 2% that matters. Have more faith in yourself that you won’t run into problems later and need old data. Just a few pages available in a smaller log book encourages problem solving for current problems. Solving current problems moves you forward and further beyond whatever old data you could have collected. Let’s evolve now guys, come on.
Your homework questions
- How useful has it been for you to log your exercises, reps, sets, rest periods, weights every workout every year?
- (How about calories month after month for years?)
- If someone deleted/set fire to all your training/diet logs older than 1 year, would this be a crisis? Would it even be an inconvenience?
Final homework assignment
- Read this page and think about it in the context of what you just read.