Hopefully you have picked up a composition notebook at the gym. With our new programming and the implementation of an assessment based model, it is going to be vital for you to take ownership of your fitness and your progress by tracking your workouts. CrossFit by nature is empirical fitness; it’s data driven. What we do on a daily basis is observable, measurable and repeatable; it’s scientific. We can observe you completing some physical task, making sure you are meeting a set standard, measure how you did (time, load, distance) and then repeat that effort 8 weeks, 6 months, a year down the road and see how you have improved. This is a great approach to fitness because we can actually say, “yes, I am in fact getting better!” instead of, “I’ve been training 3 days a week for 6 months…and I think I’m improving, but I’m not really sure.” That is why we are testing and assessing. We want to establish some important metrics to which we can continually return and measure against.
Assessment Week is cool because we are establishing these metrics and collecting data, but what about the times in between assessments? That’s where you come in (with your sweet new notebook). Your training log is your personal guide to your progress, and the more detailed you can be in your notebook, the bigger and better picture we can create. Try to be as detailed as possible when logging the details of the day’s training so when you look back, you can remember why you did what you did, how it went, and how you felt.
Let’s take yesterday’s workout of 3RFT 25 KB swings 25 burpees as our example. If I just write 8:11 as my time with nothing else, I don’t have a strategy for next time we do that workout (which we will definitely do again…sorry). How much weight did you use? Did you go too light? Too heavy? How did you break up the KB swings, or did you? Was it your grip? Was it your lungs? How did the burpees feel? Were you able to keep moving or did you tank? Did you start the workout too fast? All of these things are important elements of your fitness and give you a better idea of your capacity than just your time. We might not do that workout for 8 weeks, but there will probably be KB swings at some point. If the workout has 10 heavy swings (how heavy is heavy?!)…lucky you, you can look back in your notebook. Well I did 25 in a row at 35 lbs pretty easy…maybe I’ll use the 53 lb KB today. That is an intelligent way to approach a workout. As a coach, I try to use my best judgement to help you scale up or down, but if you have YOUR actual data, we can make a smarter decision about where you need to be and how to move you forward. We will often be working off of percentages of your maxes. If you have to guess every time, you are probably missing the mark.
Remember, we are trying to paint a big picture, so don’t just write your workout results. As you very-well know, your lifestyle affects your performance in the gym. I’m not saying get super crazy about tracking your nutrition or counting calories if that’s not you, but if you are coming off a vacation or a big birthday extravaganza (mmm…cake) where you ate anything and everything then make a note of it. If you’ve been eating great and you crushed the workout…write it in there!! If you are coming off a cold, or a horrible night’s sleep, or you had a bad day at work and you were already in a rough frame of mind, or are distracted by something going on in your life…write it down. Try to record your sleep (hours and quality). All of these aspects are so important to your fitness and your overall well-being. Sometimes we are frustrated because we had a horrible workout, we didn’t PR and we don’t know why. Well, if you’ve got the data and the notes, you can start to systematically figure out why you may not be feeling 100%.
Take ownership of your health and your fitness through the numbers; take advantage of being a part of a fitness program that is empirical. Flash-Forward 1 Year: You are looking at your numbers and your times and thinking “I could only snatch 85 lb pounds?!…I only deadlifted 150 lbs?…I couldn’t do a pull-up?!” You will be amazed at where you are and where you came from. Tracking your progress is the key to seeing how far we have come, keeping us humble, motivated and encouraged to keep improving.
If you want to go nuts, set up a training blog and get really detailed. Check out mine. I write down my numbers in a notebook while I am in the gym training, and then I go back and make the detailed notes on my blog.