The Importance of a Training Log

It’s a rare occasion for me to walk into the SRC or RHRC and see people working out with a training log.  Why is that?  Writing down and keeping track of each workout is so important to your success.

A training log can really be whatever you want it to be.  If you are always in the weight room, record the exercise you did, how many reps of how much weight and how many sets you performed.  Then, set a goal to lift more and see yourself progress over the weeks.  If you are an elliptical hog (that’s me!), write down the level of intensity or your estimated calories burned (although the machine is not completely accurate!), and set a goal to do the same routine at a higher intensity or burn more calories in the same amount of time.

Here are some reason why keeping a training log is worth doing:

Motivation: After a few weeks, being able to look back on how far you’ve come is so encouraging.  Maybe you can bench press 20 extra pounds or you can run a mile 25 seconds faster.  Looking over your progress will give you the confidence to push even further.

Keep You On Track: If you have a specific goal in mind, keeping a training log will hold you accountable to it.  Sometimes, people will even write down their daily workout routine a week in advanced so that they won’t skip their gym time for a nap or a repeat episode of Jersey Shore (am I the only one who is guilty of this?).  Write down everything so you can push yourself.

Evaluation:  A log will help you see what worked and what didn’t.  Maybe you’ve been stuck doing the same number of deadlifts at the same weight for weeks or your three-mile run hasn’t been getting any faster.  You can evaluate what you need to do to get to your goal, so next time you throw in some extra sets to your routine or do a few sprints during your next run.  And if you are seeing the results you want, perfect!  Keep going!

Help You Switch Things Up: After doing the same routine for a number of weeks, your body gets “used to” the workout.  This can lead to a plateau in your results.  Seeing that you’ve been doing the same old thing for the past month may encourage you to change it up – maybe the order that you typically do each exercise or even the workout entirely.  If you’ve been running a lot, try a spin class.  If you’ve been doing regular pushups, try triceps (aka triangle) pushups.  Keep your muscles guessing!

Reality Check: Let’s be honest – sometimes we don’t train as hard as we think we do.  You were at the gym for an hour, but spent three minutes between each set so it wasn’t that intense.  Writing down everything will help you see what you’ve really done.  You might realize that you do a lot of arm exercises but not enough lower-body exercises.  A log will help you see what you need to do more or less of.

Check out the few examples of training logs below!  But feel free to find one that fits YOU and your routine best!


Workout Wednesday blog posts are written by UNC Campus Recreation. Each Wednesday we swap blog posts with the Tar Heel Tone Up blog so that readers can view more diverse post topics that will benefit their health and wellness. Workout Wednesday blog posts can be found both here and on

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Quick Tips – How to Train Your Shoulder Muscles

by Ben Smart

So often we ask – “can you give me a hand?” Well, extending ourselves out to help others may rely on the arms, but it all originates in one place: the shoulders. Training the group of muscles collectively referred to as the shoulders can give you that solid, strong look. Well-built shoulders also support proper posture and help avoid chronic neck and back pain.

What muscles compose the shoulder?

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The trapezius, levator scapulae, and rhomboids run along to back side of the shoulders – they connect the base of the skull to the scapula and the clavicle.

On the front side of the body, the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, latissimus dorsi, teres major, and deltoid anchor several different bones in place and create the shoulder aesthetic.

Moves to train shoulder muscles

Don’t overtrain the shoulders with excessive reps. Stick to compound movements, because there are several muscles in the shoulder, and your goal is to train them all in a balanced way.

  1. Barbell Shrugs: 3-4 sets of 20

Hold a barbell with both hands, letting it hang in front of your body. Pull the bar upwards, tensing your shoulder muscles on the way up. Hold for a second then slowly release. Remember – don’t roll your shoulders on this move.

  1. Dumbbell Deltoid Raise: 4 sets of 10

Hold a pair of dumbbell at your side. Raise the dumbbells upwards, creating an arc until your arms are straight and at shoulder level. Hold for a second and release

  1. Military Press: 4 sets of 8

This move can be tough for beginners, so aim for lighter weight if you find yourself arching your back or using your legs. Hold a barbell with both hands, bending your elbows so the weight is resting on your upper chest. You’re your shoulders and extend the weight upwards above your head. Remain steady and firm, then slowly bring the weight back down. Remember, this move trains the shoulders, so maintain a solid base and focus on using the shoulder muscles.

Cool Down

Always perform light stretches and remain hydrated before concluding your workout. Stopping or starting too quickly can result in injury.

Ready to take your workout to the next level? Get help from the experts – sign up for individualized training with a certified personal trainer at UNC Campus Recreation.

Life Lessons Learned through Half Marathon Training

Here are the life lessons I have learned by training for a half marathon.  (*Disclaimer: You do NOT have to be a runner to benefit from reading this post!)

You have to run the 13 before you run the .1 – I am a very impatient person.  Part of me would love to tell you that I found a short cut on how to run mile 12 without running miles 1 through 11, but unfortunately, I haven’t found the secret yet.  So, instead, I have started to become comfortable with having to run each mile, in succession, every time.  It reminds me of how most of the time in life, I am ignoring all of the amazing things around me or getting frustrated with not being “far enough” along.  Training reminds me to be present in each moment. Continue reading