I have always had a short attention span with my training plans. A couple of years ago I actually managed to follow a plan for fifteen months. The first twelve months were focused on strength training and then I placed an emphasis on conditioning for the next three months as I prepped for the Murph Challenge last Memorial Day. Due to the success I had with the Murph Challenge I continued with the program after Memorial Day throughout the summer. Last fall I was once again all over the place with my training. Some of that was due to experimenting with different modalities but some of it was caused by injuries that kept me from being as focused as I wanted to be and caused me to have to work around injuries to my back and shoulders. As I healed and started to feel better earlier this year I went back to follow the same routine that I had utilized last year to prep for the Murph Challenge. In spite of seeing results and getting back to a good fitness level I decided a few weeks ago to switch up my training. There were multiple reasons but one of the biggest was that I had done that program so many times that it was feeling stale to me. Due to feeling physically as good as I had in a long time the staleness was holding me back and keeping me from getting where I wanted to be and this was proving frustrating.
Being on the new training plan for about three weeks now has been eye opening to me. I felt that I was in pretty good shape after around three months on a strength and conditioning program that has always put me into my best condition. Upon switching to this new program I discovered that I was not in as good of shape as I thought. And this is where I realized that I need to continually challenge myself by switching up my routine and trying new training programs. Even though for me the proven program was still producing results I don’t feel I was pushing myself as hard as I should have been due to my familiarity with it. I was only working to my previous capabilities and not pushing myself beyond it. For me personally my best results come when I have a new program which pushes me and is new and fresh or if I am training for a specific goal with a deadline.
For the first time in my life I am now following a subscription based program. It has been fun to try new things and to constantly be changing things up. I have been excited each week to receive the new programming and look forward to seeing the results after I have been with this program for a few months. Hopefully it will keep me motivated and help me to keep producing results.
The past few months I have slanted my workouts a bit more towards conditioning. I have still been doing strength training twice a week, but have included three conditioning workouts a week. This was done primarily to ready myself for the Memorial Day Murph workout I blogged about last time and was very successful as I beat my goal by over five minutes.
One of my favorite conditioning workouts has become interval training. Interval training is simply short high intensity periods of exercise alternated with short rest periods. I have done this type of workout in the past with sprinting. With my current knee situation I have been advised to reduce or eliminate running from my program by my doctor. I have greatly reduced my running to just the Murph workout. I have replaced running with the trusty Schwinn Airdyne I purchased off of Craigslist shortly before my surgery last year.
Typically I will pedal for either a certain length of time trying to keep a specified RPM or I will go all out for a certain distance. In between I will continue pedaling at a low RPM of around 50. As a personal preference I don’t really care for long distance running or biking so this type of training has been ideal for me and a great benefit to my conditioning.
In the example above I included some core work after a slight break from my interval workout. I enjoy including some core work on my interval days.
For as long as I can remember I have been a huge proponent of having an exercise journal or workout log. In fact, I still have most of them and from time to time I like to pull some of the old ones out and read through them. I thought I would outline some of the benefits of keeping a workout log.
- Goals – This is a great way to create and track your goals. By examining what you have done in the past you can learn what you need to improve, set new goals and stay on track towards achieving them.
- Progress – Keeping a journal is a great way to track your progress.
- Identify weaknesses
- Identify patterns
- Motivation – I love to look back at where I’ve been on exercises. Sometimes if I haven’t done an exercise in a long time I am motivated to get back to where I was in the past and sometimes it is just exciting to see how far you’ve come.
Traditionally I have always just used notebooks to record my workouts. Recently, my wife bought me an actual workout log to use. No matter what you use I like to make sure I record the following each day.
- Date – I record the day, month and year.
- Time – The time I start the workout and the time I end.
- Exercises done
- Sets and reps
- Notes – It is extremely helpful to record notes on each workout. I will record if a particular exercise is harder or easier than expect, if I feel I should stay at that weight next time or if I should increase the weight, any injuries, pace of the workout, conditions in the garage gym that day, etc.
This is definitely not a complete list but just the things that have proven to be important to me in the past. I believe keeping a workout log is an extremely under-rated and under utilized tool in any trainee’s toolbox.