Men’s Open bodybuilder Hunter Labrada took to his YouTube channel on May 16, 2023, to explain the importance of logging workouts. He also offered insight into his own methods for tracking progress each and every gym session.
Labrada explains that bodybuilders should use the same precision when counting macros as logging exercises. “Don’t leave your training up in the air,” he says. “Be able to look back, review, see training volume, if things are progressing [or] regressing.”
Essentially, logging each exercise during each workout informs the decisions for when to add load or volume. Check out the video below:
“If you are serious about what you do in the gym, not having a logbook or some form of tracking…is the same thing as just saying ‘ah, I’m eating a lot’ or ‘I’m eating a little,’” Labrada says. “You never do that. You always weigh your food. You always have a goal.”
How and Why Labrada Logs Workouts
Those who regularly follow Labrada’s social media content will know that he’s old school when it comes to recording his workouts, opting for pen and paper. While there are plenty of apps that quickly add the facts and figures around each lift, a notebook adds some additional flexibility for Labrada to record observations as he goes.
Labrada uses one page per training session and splits that page into columns. Next to the “name” column, he records the weight or number of weight plates loaded for each movement. He considers a 50-pound plate to be one plate, so a 25-pound plate would be half a plate, and so on. He also logs the pin and peg numbers so that he can standardize his positioning.
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Labrada adds detailed notes when logging exercises. For example, he’ll denote whether a rep was completed by himself or with the support of a spotter. He annotates rest pauses and whether reps were full or partial. This granular detailing has sharpened his progress during his career.
Science Agrees — Plan Your Workouts
A study published in Sports Medicine found that individuals who participated in periodized training programs saw a moderate increase in their one-rep max when compared to individuals with non-periodized plans. (1) As the study states, a periodized training program is “a logical method of organizing training into sequential phases and cyclical time periods in order to increase the potential for achieving specific performance goals.”
By closely planning their workouts and tracking progress, an athlete can monitor performance and make more informed decisions with regard to intensity, volume, or resistance.
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Labrada capped his advocating for logging workouts by displaying their impact in action. He pulled a lifetime PR deadlift of 265 kilograms (585 pounds) for four reps in training. He knew to load that weight and that he would likely be able to lock it out because he knew how he’d progressed to that point via his log book. So grab a pen and pad, or find an app, and start logging your training.
Williams TD, Tolusso DV, Fedewa MV, Esco MR. Comparison of Periodized and Non-Periodized Resistance Training on Maximal Strength: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2017 Oct;47(10):2083-2100. doi: 10.1007/s40279-017-0734-y. PMID: 28497285.
Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram