Wednesday, April 27, 2016

4 Reasons to Use a Workout Log

You walk into the climbing gym or up to your local crag ready to get after it. You've got your properly broken in redpointing shoes for PR attempts, your chalk bag or bucket filled with your favorite chalk, your harness, trad rack, and or handy bouldering pad at the ready.

You and your climbing partner go through all your pre warm-up routines. Dynamic stretches, a quick traverse, maybe a quick session on a system board, and finally on to your warm up routes or problems.

Everything feels right. You are ready to go at your limit. You look around and identify problems and routes at your level.

A few hours later you leave the gym in one of three states: Elated with a phenomenal climbing session where everything just felt right, frustrated as to why you couldn't send those "easy" routes and why aren't you climbing a harder grade, or just meh it was an ok session.

The thing is, all these states can be a lie, and you have no reason of truly knowing if you actually had a good session beyond just your "feelings". If you're serious about climbing and training you need to keep a workout log.

A workout log can reveal patterns of development, weight change, mental attitude or deficiencies, overtraining and plateaus far clearer than even the best coach or climbing partner. Every climbing session, warmup, supplemental exercise, yoga class, run, route, and problem should be recorded and here's why:

1. An Accurate Record
A workout log is an actual record of what you really did. Think you can trust your memory? How many boulder problems did you do last session? How long did you spend on the campus board? Did you spend more time on the hang board in that mono than you did on the previous session? I would put money on the fact that you can't reliably answer that question and that you may have plateaued and not even realized it.

It's easy to remember the big milestones: your first 5.whatever, the first time you did the V-Next, but remembering the little things like how many moves and how long your last 4x4 session took, the log can take care of that.

2. A Roadmap to Success
If you have a time where things just seem to flow for you. Where all of a sudden you are crushing it session after session and you shoot up a grade or two in a matter of months, that there's a strong chance you've found a training regimen that works for you.

Its not a guarantee that it will work forever, and it will always need tweaking, but you can bet that it will probably work better than trying to mimic Adam Ondra's workout routine.

And what if you aren't getting anywhere. Well the good thing is you can identify that and learn something from that experience as well. Not getting anywhere in your training helps you identify things that you may not need to work on, and helps you push towards things that will help you become a better climber. While it sucks to bust your ass over and over again during training and not make any progress, at least you can identify things you are already good at an refocus your training towards your weaknesses.

It also helps identify when and how you climb best. Does a certain weight seem to lead to the best climbing for you? Do you climb better at night or in the morning.

3. Motivation
A workout log can be very motivating. It is easy and quick to look back and see where you were weeks, months and years ago and that your redpoint attempt then is your warm up route now.

This is what makes the workout log rewarding. Having the data in your back pocket about your progress is an invaluable tool to help build long term confidence and self esteem. When you can look back and see that over time you have made a huge jumps in relation to where you were, it makes the work seem worth it.

When you realize that you started off weak at something and now it is a point of strength through nothing but pure hard work, its powerful and motivating feeling.

4. Injury Prevention
Workout logs inevitably can predict and possibly even prevent injuries. When you get hurt you can go back through your log and see what the hell you've been doing. Not enough rest days? Too much volume? Pushing to far to fast? Weigh to much? Maybe you just haven't been getting enough sleep and you try stupid stuff when you're tired.

Once you can pinpoint what it is that seems to lead to your inevitable injury, you can hopefully plan to stop doing it so you don't have to deal with it in the future.

Wrap up
Athletes from other sports have been documenting their training for decades. If you are serious about training for your peak its important to maximize the use of your time. The less wasted time you spend repeating something thats not working for you the more time you have to try projects you never dreamed were possible. If you haven't been keeping track of your climbing progress, its never too late to start.

Now as far as what to track, and how to track it, look out for an upcoming blog post about what to keep in a log.

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