Some people seem to have the ability to just “go to the gym” without any sort of plan or pep talk. I for one need more structure than that; I need to have an idea of where I’ve been and where I’m going, and that’s why I’ve always tracked my workouts. Sometimes its as simple as keeping a handwritten journal. Other times I use an app, like I did with the StrongLifts 5×5 program. But most of the time, I use a good old-fashioned spreadsheet.
In last week’s post, I came up with the following Resolution: During the first six months of 2019, I will perform 154 “Brad Pitt Workouts”.
Want to see how I’m doing so far? Click the link below to find out:
The link should open a Google Sheet summarizing my workout progress. At the time I’m drafting this post, I have 161 days left to complete 136 workouts, and I’m averaging about 6.6 workouts per week.
Speaking of drafting this post… I just removed over 300 words. This made me sad but it was probably for the best; I had written a detailed explanation about the spreadsheet and how it works, and it was dreadfully boring even by my standards. I decided to take it out because I figured most readers wouldn’t be interested. That said, I could be wrong – if you want to know the details, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the rest of you, all you need to know is this: every morning when I go to the gym, I put my workout notes in my phone after completing each exercise. The spreadsheet “counts” the number of notes I put in, and uses that to calculate how many workouts I’ve completed in 2019. Then a bunch of magical stuff happens, and all my notes get pushed from my phone to the blog. Technology is truly amazing.
I realize very few of my readers are actually going to look at this spreadsheet regularly. But I can’t tell you how motivating it’s been to know that my readers could look at it. If I’m thinking about slacking off or skipping a workout, a small part of me wonders if somebody is going to look at the spreadsheet and call me out on it.
Another thing you might notice is that the workouts I’ve recorded start as early as October of 2018. So, why didn’t I start this on January 1st? Because I decided that the months leading up to 2019 were going to be a Testing Phase. And I think that not having a Testing Phase is one of the main reasons why people quit their goals early.
The first day recorded in the spreadsheet is October 28, 2018, and on that day I tried to complete the following workout:
Monday — Chest
Push-ups — Three sets of 25 reps
Bench press — 25, 15 and eight reps at 165, 195, 225 lbs
Nautilus press — 15 reps at 80, 100, 130 lbs
Incline press — 15 reps at 80, 100, 130 lbs
Pec deck — 15 reps at 60, 70, 80 lbs
It looks pretty simple, right? But here’s a list of the questions I ran into on the first day alone:
- How long should I rest between sets?
- If I don’t complete the reps, do I rest and try again, or do I move on to the next exercise?
- Can I do the workouts in a different order?
- What if my gym doesn’t have the right equipment?
- Can I substitute dumbbells for barbell exercises, and is there a ratio I can use to convert the weight for that?
- If I only do a few of the exercises for the day, do I give myself partial credit for that?
I spent more time on my phone trying to Google the answers to these questions than I did actually completing the workout. In fact, I didn’t complete the workout at all – I only did the first three exercises, despite having been at the gym for over an hour.
And that was OK!
As annoyed as I was that I ran into so many obstacles, I knew that this first day was going to be an experiment. The clock wouldn’t start on my Resolution until 2019. In the meantime, my job was to iron-out the details. I wasn’t focusing on gains; I was focusing on crafting a goal that was sustainable. Once I figured out what the “rules” were going to be, I was able to stick to them and hold myself accountable. If I’d waited until January to get started, I may have gotten frustrated and quit, and blamed the workout program for not being specific enough.
And those questions that I came up with? Most of them aren’t really all that important. In most cases, I just made a decision and applied that decision consistently going forward.
Next week, I’ll be wrapping up the January series with some closing thoughts, and introducing a new NYR for February. See you then!