Friday, August 20, 2010

Keeping an Exercise Log.

Exercise data recorded in an EXCEL spreadsheet.
When I do any running, my Nike+ system automatically logs all the details of the run (distance covered, pace, calories burned etc.), and uploads all the data neatly into the Nike+ website. The website allows me to analyze the total distance run, my progress, my target goals etc.

But running is not the only exercise I do. I do almost an equal amount of resistance workout. The problem is there is no system to record the progress made in the resistance workout. Our gym does have specialized equipment for resistance workout that is linked to an unique key given to each subscriber. You insert the key into the machine and start your workout such as chest extension, leg raises etc. The machine records the workout on the key, which can then be reviewed on a separate computer. I did not subscribe to the service because I prefer doing free-weights (dumb-bells, squats etc.) instead of using assisted machines.

This means that if you are serious about sticking to a scheduled workout and ensuring that you progress increasingly to heavier weights, you need to keep a log. Many dedicated members in my gym carry a small notebook in which they record their activities. The notebook is also a great way to plan out your workout so that you do a specific set of exercises and then compare the actual results to what you had planned at the beginning of the day.

Initially, I tried carrying a small notebook and a pencil but found it annoying to write down the activity after each exercise. I then tried recording the workout details on my iPhone using a spreadsheet application that I downloaded from the iTunes app store. Even that seemed to get in my way so I finally opted to log all the details in an EXCEL spreadsheet on my laptop immediately after I reached home. I found this the most convenient method since the workout details are still fresh in my mind. It does not matter how you log your data as long as you do it.

Putting all the exercise data in an EXCEL spreadsheet allows me to easily analyze my progress and plan for improvements in my weight-lifting capabilities.

Convert exercise data in a graph.
Use the built-in functionality of EXCEL to graph your exercise data into a visual representation of your daily progress, and plan for your next increase in weight. For example, once I find that I can do 12 reps of a given exercise, I then increase the weight by a factor of 5-10 pounds. I usually find that once I increase the weight, I can do around 6-8 reps with the increase weight. I will continue trying to reach 12 reps over the next 2-3 weeks, and once I hit 12, I again raise the weight.

Logging your exercise data is both a good way of keeping track of what you have done - and a great motivation to do better.

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