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The bodybuilder who employs plans and goals cruises past the trainee who doesn't. Aimless effort may produce some gains, but sooner or later
stalls out. Training with purpose is part of making maximum gains in the shortest time, the goal of every intelligent bodybuilder. One of
the best ways to track your progress is to maintain a log book or training manual.
A training manual directs your future and shows your past. Someone questions your 300-pound bench press? J Show him your training log. You may forget some of your achievements or past routines yourself. A training log points out your personal scheme and how you go about your approach to bodybuilding. You can also use it as a correctional tool. For instance, if you find your average rep range is 6 for curls and you want it to be 9, you can note that and make adjustments. A training log records dates of workouts. You may be able to notice patterns, either good or bad, that you can adjust to seasonally. You can study training cycles also.
Many can remember their weight training poundage's and set/rep scenarios from month to month, but few can remember much longer. What were your set, repetition and poundage for curls three years ago? If you have kept a training manual you can accurately answer that question. Someone has said that "the thinnest line is better than the strongest memory." With records you can know full certain exactly what you did.
Personal standards are important because they act as a level to attain and maintain. Setting and keeping them is difficult without a training record. Suppose you want to keep your arms at 18 inches as a minimum. Write it down. Set a group of standards that are alone. Beating an injury, or sickness, you may want to keep your bench press at 300 pounds for 5 reps or 250 for 10. These ate your own Personal standards.
Set standards for every area, thus preventing one area from lagging behind the others. Include both the poundage and the body size. This need not be contest condition, which is the ultimate, but a minimal operational standard below which you will not slip. Sometimes you may sustain an injury, get ill, or take some time off from training for other purposes. Then you will dip below your standards.
When you return to the iron, if you have training standards, you immediately have a goal to shoot for. You know where you are going and have guidelines to back you up. Further, since you have been there, you know how to get back. Check your training records for the path you took to reach your standards before, and repeat the process. Get back up to your operating platform. The standards you set act as a platform to work from to reach your ultimate potential. If your standards include 18+ arms, after you reestablish that size, you can push yourself further. The body gets used to your standards. A man who has bench-pressed 250 pounds 7,000 times in his life is much more accustomed to that weight than a guy who has handled it only 100 times. When you have I standards you force your body to accede to your goals, accepting them as part of who you are physically. There is a mental strength in the process also. The mind must accept the standards you have set and look upon a 300-pound bench press as a normal occurrence instead of an aberration. You make your standards, and then you make your body and mind accept them.
Set high standards for yourself. If you set low standards you have a low operating platform and will not reach your highest potential. With high standards you can max out in an up cycle. The standards you set are unique to your own goals and direction. This uniqueness works to your benefit, especially if you see bodybuilding as a personal competition with yourself. Personal standards are powerful because they make you attain a level of development and hold you accountable to that level. The bodybuilder who trains without any standards tends to drift. He has no solid basis for where he is going or has been. Personal standards won't let you get away with mediocrity, the curse of the average. Personal standards push you past the average and put you on the road to being the best you can be.