I started keeping a training log tracking my workouts back in 2013.
Since then, I’ve written down nearly every workout I’ve done, every rest day I’ve taken, and every new personal record I’ve achieved in the past eight years. I also write down general notes about how I felt during my workout that day, any small wins, and anything that might be frustrating me that day.
I credit much of my training improvements over the years to this process of keeping track of my progress.
In order to make real progress toward anything, we need to measure it.
Called the scoreboard principle in psychology, this concept suggests that metrics are a powerful motivating force because they help us pay more attention to that area of our lives.
As Ron Friedman recently said on The Psychology Podcast:
“Measurement begets improvement.”
The trick to tracking your progress is first figuring out a system that works for you. I started tracking my workouts using a paper notebook, but eventually switched to digital because I love things being searchable. Experiment and find what works for you.
Whether your goal is to build a consistent workout habit or do your first pull-up, the first step to making progress toward your goals is to start measuring them.
What I’m watching —
How to Stop Languishing and Start Finding Flow / Adam Grant / TED
Adam Grant’s NY Times article on languishing flooded the internet earlier this year describing the feeling of muddling through our days that so many of us have been feeling during the global COVID pandemic. This recent TED talk is aimed at getting out of that feeling of languishing by seeking more flow, the state of total absorption that leads to greater feelings of well-being, meaning, and purpose in our lives.
What I’m listening to —
ADHD and Improving Focus/ Huberman Lab Podcast
Lots of actionable advice for anyone who wants to get better at focusing in this one, not just those with ADHD. For example, research shows that just a single 17-minute body-scan meditation session can rewire your brain to help you focus better and help prevent age related cognitive decline. And learning to look at your environment with a soft gaze — what’s called open monitoring — can be a powerful tool to help your brain to detect more information faster and focus better.
A quote that inspires me —
“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” – Alan Watts
What I’m training —
Weight aren’t always necessary, but they can be a useful tool in training. I still train mostly with my own bodyweight and a few pieces of equipment like pull-up bars and plyo boxes, but lately I’ve been adding in some barbell deadlifts as well just to mix things up. I prefer to train light to medium weight because my goals don’t require heavy lifting.
No barbell? You can also do deadlifts using kettlebells, dumbbells, or resistance bands.
Three workouts —
Sandbag Strength + Power Workout (12 minute, sandbag or dumbbells)
Legs + Cardio Bodyweight Challenge Workout (Time challenge, equipment-free)
Outdoor Sprint Bodyweight Workout (Time challenge, equipment-free)
And here’s a park-friendly workout I posted on Instagram.
Remember, you can get these and all future workouts right in the 12 Minute Athlete app when you subscribe as a Super Athlete (this is WAY cheaper than joining a gym or hiring a personal trainer! In addition, you’ll be helping to support the site and making future features to the app possible.).
As always, I value your feedback, so please feel free to reply directly to this email if you have any questions or comments (yes, I am a real human). I get a lot of emails and messages, so I can’t reply to all of them, but I do read everything you guys send me!