Far too many natural bodybuilders play guessing games and don’t scientifically track their progress. This is one of the biggest mistakes a lifter can make.
Guessing at what is, or isn’t working, is like shooting arrows in the dark. And often times, following your instincts can lead you down a dead end.
The old school way of keeping a log involves a notebook and a pen. This is a very handy way of tracking your daily workouts and calorie intake. Many lifters also keep their log data on Microsoft Word or Excel documents.
Start Rolling Your Logs
Start a Training Log
Starting a training log is easy. Grab a small notebook and a pen, stuff it into your gym bag, and you’re ready to roll.
Once at the gym, log your workout length, energy level, and assign your workout an overall grade. If you killed it, went up in strength and had tons of energy, give that workout an A+. If you barely crawled through your workout, or dropped in strength, give it a D.
You’ll also want to log your exercises, weights and reps. This is the primary reason for keeping a training log. Once home, place this information on your computer, and/or your forum training log.
A training log will reveal numerous things. You can track strength gains and monitor overall energy levels. You can tell if certain workouts need to be tweaked, and if you need to cut back – or add more – exercises.
You can also average together your grades, and compare workout routines. Is the 5x5 really working for you…or did Doggcrapp Training yield better strength gains? If a routine is constantly coming out at a C grade or below, you know it’s time for a change.
Start a Diet Log
A big mistake that most trainees make is not keeping a diet log. Guessing at how many calories you’re eating, or at how much body fat you’re carrying around is a waste of time. You must KNOW, not guess.
To get started, you need to purchase a reliable skin-fold caliper. Body fat scales are highly inaccurate. Practice taking body fat measurements, and log them once a week. Figure out how much of your weight is fat, and how much is lean mass. Armed with this information, you can truly know if a diet plan is working.
By counting calories, and taking weekly skin fold readings, you can know down to the pound if you’re over-eating or under-eating. This makes dietary course corrections much easier, and can save you major headaches and time in the long run.
Log meal times, food, and macronutrient grams. Grade your energy level, and sleep. Many times, a simple addition of a couple hundred calories of carbs can do wonders for your sleep.
Start a Supplement Log
Many natural trainees keep training and diet logs, but few keep supplement logs.
A supplement log is much more then just about what you take, and when you take it. A supplement log should detail every aspect of your life: sleep, workout grade, strength increases, scale weight, body fat readings, energy levels, negative side effects, etc.
Combine the information collected in your training and diet logs, and add them to a supplement log. By looking at the data, you can know for sure if a supplement is working, how well it is working, and what may be wrong with your supplementation approach.
You can keep individual logs for each supplement, or keep a single log for all supplements. Both ways of supplement logging have their positives and negatives. By keeping a single log, you will be spending less time each day analyzing and writing. Multiple logs are a time sink, but can often better analyze the effects of a single supplement.
An important aspect of supplement logging is knowing your supplements. You must research a supplement before running it. Know what common side effects are. By doing this, you can better ascertain whether a muscle mass gain may be coming from creatine, or from an NO product.
A natural bodybuilder without a scale, caliper and notebook is an amateur.
Up your game by getting scientific.
Over time, this will save you time and money, and assist you in losing fat and packing on muscle mass as quickly as possible.