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Keeping a workout notebook is important

This is an excerpt from Delavier's Core Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier & Michael Gundill.

Keep a Workout Notebook

It is very important to keep a workout notebook. It immediately helps you see what you did during your previous core workout. Make a small box where you can note the time you start your workout. Below that, write down when you finished. This way you will know exactly how much time you spent exercising. Measuring the time spent is an important factor, because if you rest longer between sets, your performance will increase but you won't necessarily get stronger. To truly compare two workouts, you must ensure they are approximately the same length.

Your workout notebook should be as precise as possible but still easy to maintain. Here is an example:

Crunch with a dumbbell on the chest:

- 5 lbs: 20 reps

- 10 lbs: 17 reps

- 15 lbs: 13 reps

- 20 lbs: 8 reps

Time: 5 min.

We know which exercise was done (crunch), the weight, the number of repetitions, the number of sets, and how much time it took.

Do the same for all workouts. This is how you will determine exactly what your goals are for your next workout.

Analyze Your Workouts

After each workout, analyze your performance by asking yourself these questions:

  • What worked well?
  • What did not work well?
  • Why did it not work well?
  • How can I make things better during my next workout?
If you look at the previous example, here is a typical analysis you could do for each exercise before your next workout:
  • Start with a heavier weight because the first set might be too light (you did 20 repetitions).
  • Carry this same increase in weight over to the second as well as the third sets.
  • In the third set, the muscles start to get tired, because you lost four repetitions instead of three for an increase of 5 pounds in weight. You will have to stick with it to overcome this fatigue.
  • In the last set, the loss of strength is accentuated with a loss of five repetitions for an additional 5 pounds. You must halt the rate at which you are increasing the weight so that you will be able to do more repetitions using a lower weight than last time. The new workout would look like this:

Crunch with a dumbbell on the chest:

- 10 lbs: 18 reps

- 15 lbs: 15 reps

- 17.5 lbs: 12 reps

- 20 lbs: 10 reps

Time: 5 min.

For the next workout, your goal will be to increase the number of repetitions using the same amount of weight. Increase the weight again once you reach 20 repetitions.

How Do You Finish Your Analysis?

The trend over a month, rather than from one workout to another, is what helps you adjust your core workout program. If your numbers are increasing regularly, then all is well! If your increase slows down, you can change things by doing the following:

  • Switching exercises
  • Resting more between workouts

If you notice a persistent loss of strength, then you need to both lower the weight and increase your rest time.


Only a well-maintained workout notebook can precisely show how your performance has changed over time. Do not just rely on your memory. Of course you can remember the numbers from your last workout. But how will you remember what you did a month ago? Also, if you change exercises, how will you remember what you did for that exercise when you introduce it again one or two months later? Your workout notebook is the best way to monitor your progress, and it is an important aid in creating future workout programs.

Read more about Delavier's Core Training Anatomy by Frederic Delavier.

More Excerpts From Delavier's Core Training Anatomy