Reasons To Track Fitness: 12 Ways This Is Stopping You From Reaching Your Goals
Updated: Jun 26, 2022
For years, I refused to keep any sort of workout journal or training log. It just seemed like one more thing to take care of on my already far-too-long to-do list. And to keep it real, I was afraid of feeling vulnerable or over-analyzing my training as an elite athlete.
A training journal can be a pretty intimate conversation with yourself, especially in a journal where you talk about your feelings or what happened that day. It materializes any intense feelings you may be having. The words are there on the paper, and you're forcing yourself to think about them.
That being said...
Why Is It So Important To Track Your Fitness?
There's a reason some of the best athletes in the world recommend keeping a workout log, tracking fitness goals, and journaling about your training. It can be super powerful.
In fact, it's so powerful that not doing it could be the reason you haven't reached your goal yet! So why exactly is it so important to track your fitness?
Let's look at 16 reasons to track fitness.
1. Using A Workout Log To Break Down Goals
This doesn't just apply to fitness goals! Breaking down any large goal into tiny steps helps make the large and scary goal seem a bit more attainable.
Plus, big goals don't just happen without a million teeny tiny steps. These steps are so small that they hardly feel powerful. Combined together though? They can get you anywhere you need to go.
For example, if you want to run a 60 second 400m race, can you just say that's your goal and keep doing random things while praying that it happens someday?
Of course not!
While you may get lucky, chances are pretty slim and you're not putting your best foot forward. However, a plan with a bunch of small, specific actions that make you a better sprinter...? Now we're talking.
If you're not keeping track of all of those little things, it's hard to see what's working and what's not. Or you might not even remember to do them all.
Keeping a workout log takes some of that chaos away and makes breaking down big goals way easier.
2. We All Need Accountability
Sure we have coaches, teammates, friends...but the main person holding you accountable for your goals has to be you!
You have to be in it fully and believe in yourself if you ultimately want to get the job done.
Life is already a lot; memorizing workout routines and remembering to do them just adds to your plate.
While you could maybe get by that way, a workout log is there to remind you exactly what you need to do. And it shows when you skip certain habits or change something up. You'll always be able to go back and see what you did or didn't do.
3. A Sense Of Control
This is a big reason to track fitness that I don't think people think of too often. A workout log can actually give you a sense of control. Like I've been saying, life is already a lot and moves so fast!
It's easy to feel like you're a small fish in a big ocean, spinning around trying to figure out what to do next.
And when it comes to fitness goals and athletic performance, it's easy to get frustrated when you're not seeing the results you expected.
A major benefit of a fitness log is the ability to see what you're doing and know that you are in control of your results.
4. See Progress In Your Fitness
If you don't know that you're getting better, how do you know that you're getting better?
Not sure if that sentence made sense. 😄
But what I'm saying is that it really helps to see that you're trending toward your goals to know that you're making progress in your fitness.
The importance of tracking progress is especially strong on days that you're not feeling so great.
With a workout journal, you can go back and see where you were 1 month ago and remind yourself that even though this exact moment isn't amazing, you've come so so far. It's motivation to keep going!
5. ...And See When You're Not Progressing
This works the other way, too. If you can clearly see that you're not making progress, maybe it's time to make some adjustments to your plan.
Are you doing each habit that you have written in your fitness habit tracker? Are you doing the full workouts? Where are you not following through on your workout plan?
If you have this all laid out in front of you, you'll know exactly what's going on.
6. Make Needed Adjustments
If things aren't going how you thought they would be, you might be wondering well what am I doing or not doing right? How convenient! Everything you wrote in your exercise log or workout journal is a clue!
You won't have to play any guessing games. Maybe you'll see that you've only been doing 1 decent sprint workout each month. Or only sleeping 6 hours a night.
Adjust the things you're tracking or how you're doing them to see if you can find your optimal situation.
7. A Workout Journal Is Good For Mentality Training
Using a fitness tracker to measure specific things (meals eaten, time ran, etc) is a really great thing. But what about the not-so-straightforward parts of training? We've all heard the sayings:
A workout is 90% mental and 10% physical.
Some of my track workouts over the years would have me begging to differ, but that's neither here nor there.
The point is that your body and your mentality are certainly working together when it comes to fitness. It might be important for you to start tracking how you're feeling at the start versus the end of the week, or what thoughts helped you push through that one really tough workout.
Getting your feelings out on paper helps declutter your mind a bit. It's easy to over-think training, and having someone to talk to about it (even a journal!) can really help.
An exercise I think is really helpful when it comes to using a workout journal is what you can call "changing the narrative."
Practicing doing this in your journal helps you be more positive and see the potential for happy outcomes in your day to day. Learn more about what I mean in my blog post, "Changing the Narrative When You Suck at Staying Positive."
8. Subconscious Reminders
Have you ever heard about vision boarding?
If you haven't, a vision board is essentially a physical (and sometimes artsy) depiction of your goals and dreams. You can put whatever you want on it really, but it's meant to be filled with all of the things that motivate you.
Perhaps your favorite inspirational quotes, pictures of where you see yourself, or a goal written out.
Vision boards help you manifest your dreams because they remind you every time you look at them to keep working towards what you want.
I say that the same goes for your fitness planner!
I literally use my planners to make small vision boards sometimes because when I open the planner, I'll see my goals.
A workout log reminds you every time you open it- whether you realize it or not- to do something that directly leads you to your goals.
9. Remembering Fitness Routines
I've picked up a lot of different routines over the years. From dumbbell circuits and ab routines, to series of rehab exercises, it's not easy to remember them all off the top of your head.
You can write them on random pieces of paper, or you can use a pre-made routine page to keep track of them in one spot. The second option is my go-to because it's so easy to find them when they're all in one place.
If you don't remember what it is, you're chances of doing it right or doing it at all are pretty slim.
I have a tab at the end of my fitness planner where I just keep the routines I need to remember. Ever since I started doing that my life got so much easier and my motivation to workout actually increased.
10. How To Track Fitness Progress With A Habit Tracker
I love to pair those routine sheets I mentioned above with a habit tracker. This way, I know which days of the week I did the routine I needed to do.
When you have a routine card and a habit tracker, all you have to do is check the routine, do it, and then mark on your habit tracker that you did it that day. It's just a simple extra 5-second step that can make a huge difference. I talk more about forming healthy habits with a habit tracker over on this post.
11. Overcoming a Lack of Motivation
Sometimes life just become monotonous. Another early morning wakeup to do another workout and head to our desk jobs. Or whatever your schedule is. No matter what you do, we all lack motivation to get stuff done every now and then.
While I will always be an advocate for taking a day off (or two hehe), the only way to really reach our goals is to keep working toward them.
It's 100% okay to not feel motivated some days, but on those days maybe a quick peek at your workout log will re-inspire you to get up and get after it.
When you see how far you've come, or see how good you've been doing with your water intake that week, you'll feel motivated to keep pushing on.
12. Scheduling In Breaks
Like I said in the section above and will continue to say all the time, breaks are good.
Taking a break is productive.
If you don't take breaks, you open yourself up to the risk of burnout, injury, depression, and everything in between.
You have to allow your body to recover, and the best way to know when you really need it is by using an exercise log to monitor your progress.
Is there a day or two where your results are significantly lower than they've been? Take this as a sign to check in with yourself. Are you eating enough calories? Getting enough sleep? Do you need to add in more stretching to your routine?
If you're not remembering to work recovery and breaks into your exercise plan, this could actually be stopping you from making real progress. It's such a crucial step toward hitting your goals!
See The Benefits of a Fitness Log In Action
So, did I convince you yet?
If somehow you still don't believe me that not tracking your fitness can actually hinder your progress, let me make one last attempt to push you over to the good side.
Here's the final tidbit:
A workout log doesn't have to be difficult or complicated.
There are so many workout planners out there with 100s of pages, illustrations of your body and places to measure every single metric you could imagine.
These pages are great for those who want them, but I'm really just here to help you keep healthy living simple.
A minimal approach is how I like to go about things because I have a wandering mind that can just bounce all over if I let it.
I need to focus up with simple and targeted pages that let me fill out exactly what I need in my fitness log.
No nonsense, you feel me?
I want you to find that simple—yet effective—balance in your fitness plan too, so I'm sharing 8 planning pages that I use to keep me focused and engaged in my running and fitness progress.
In this guide, I talk more about how to use a fitness planner to set and reach goals.
Plus, I give you:
running and lift logs
a place to write down routines
a KPI tracker (and what that means)
and other printable templates to help you reach your goals
The pages come in multiple sizes, so no matter what type of planner you are, there should be one for you!
Jumpstart your fitness routine (or optimize your existing one) with these pages and come back to let me know how it's going so I can cheer you on!
Let me know in the comments or in my messages how your fitness tracking journey has been going. I'd love to hear it.