by Nicole Wilkins

What if I told you there was a way you could maximize your training and nutrition plan to reach your goals – and it was as simple as picking up a pen? I’m sure you’d do it. I know I would – because I do!

I’m talking about keeping a training journal. Whether it’s in a notebook or on your computer, a training journal is a snapshot of your workouts, meals, and everything else you do in your day-to-day fitness and nutrition plan.

Shedding body fat, gaining muscle, getting stronger or improving endurance and cardiovascular fitness takes a detailed plan. Just winging it without a clear picture of your daily workouts, meals, moods, and other factors will not produce the best results. Knowing what you’ve done will help you pinpoint what works best for you. It’s all right there on the page (or laptop) to guide your future workout and meal plans to be as effective as possible. 💻

The level of detail you keep depends on your personality. I know some people who are meticulous and record every little thing, others who paint with broad strokes. Whatever your personal preference, there are key things you need to include. You don’t want to look back at your pages and not gain any insight into the things you were really good at and the things you need to work on. The knowledge you gain from your entries can give you the self-awareness and motivation to stay on track and reach both your short-term and long-term goals on your health and fitness journey. ✍️

• In addition to the exercises, sets/reps, list the weights used to see if you got stronger or weaker. Write down how exercises feel. Did a certain exercise effectively hit the target muscle? Why or why not? Did you get a good pump? 💪

• Track your energy levels during the workout. Are you maintaining a high level throughout? Are you fizzling out half-way through? If this is the case, you can look at your food and supplements (see below). Maybe you’re not eating or drinking enough. What kind of pre-workout did you take?

• What time of day did you train? Do you have more energy and get better pumps when you train at night? These are all questions you can answer with a glance at the pages of your journal.

• Write down each meal. List the foods, the amounts, along with the supplements, and your macros per meal and the total for the day.

• Record how meals affect your appearance and performance in the gym.

• Identify foods that cause a reaction so you’ll know to avoid it in the future. Do certain foods leave you feeling bloated? And keep recipes of your favorite meals!

• Write down how many hours of sleep you’re getting every night. Compare that with your performance in the gym and your overall energy levels throughout the day.

• List any injuries or ailments. Are they a result of certain exercises or improper form?

• Record the frequency of your massage/chiropractor sessions and any other recovery protocols you are doing.

It’s important to keep track of your progress from week to week. Remember, having a few memorable workouts/meals doesn’t build a great body. Your physique is a culmination of all the workouts and meals you do everyday. Those days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, and those months become years. By recording your weights, taking measurements and photos, you’ll see just how much progress you are making. 📅

If you’re satisfied, great! Keep doing what you’re doing. If you’re not satisfied, you can identify the things that aren’t working and change them.

Recently, while going through boxes in my garage I came across an old, beat up notebook. I knew immediately that it was a training journal from my college days. I flipped through it and I have be honest, some of those early workouts made me wonder what I was thinking that day. 😉 Then I found a leg workout that gave me great results and it inspired me to hit the gym to do it again!

I’ve gone through phases where I didn’t keep a journal. Those periods end up being blind spots, where I don’t have a clear picture of my training/nutrition/recovery/progress/general state of mind. I regret those times now, so I’m diligent in staying up to date with my training journal. 👍


Want to see a just how awesome a tool a training journal can be? Check out the first ever fitness + nutrition journal for fitness enthusiasts to help you get in your best shape ever: fitbook® PREP. Created in collaboration with fitlosophy, my fitbook PREP is a 12-week guided journal designed to help you plan and track your progress – and reach your goals.


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One of the biggest names in the fitness industry, Nicole Wilkins is a world-record holding four-time Figure Olympia Champion and 2012 IFPA Personal Trainer of the Year. Nicole earned her BA in Wellness, Health Promotion and Injury Prevention at Oakland University. The owner and founder of nPower Nutrition, Nicole has helped thousands of people start living a healthier lifestyle and reach their fitness goals.

See Nicole’s Bio!