Is that a PR? Seems like a simple question but the vast majority of the time when I ask someone, I get a shrug and a I don’t know in response.

Journaling or tracking or logging or whatever you want to call it is one of the key pillars to long term success not only In CrossFit but in any kind of grams, meters, seconds pursuit. This truth which seems so obvious to me and those who have spent time chasing measurable performance seems to be lost on new comers.

Whether CrossFit or weightlifting are your primary purpose for being in the gym or if you train for athletic pursuits outside of the weight room keeping track of what you do is vital to your success.

The first part of the two part series will address the four main reasons that journaling is key. The second part will discuss logging options and a simple how to guide.

  1. Overload

You improve in the gym by doing more or going faster or somehow challenging your body and then giving it time to recover so the body will adapt. This is called general adaption syndrome. How we overload can mean different things. We can run a mile faster. Rum two miles instead of one. Lift 10 lbs more for the same reps or use the same weight and increase the reps.

Regardless though of how we overload the system, we need to log to do it. How do I run faster if I don’t know how fast I have run previously. How much should I front squat? The depends on what you did last time.

A lot of times as a raw beginner this stuff happens naturally. You are so deconditioned that you will naturally lift more the second time out or the third. Very quickly though you will not naturally load more weight on the bar or run a little faster. You will need to know what you were capable of last time to challenge the body and force it to adapt.

Not pushing the body will simply result in a lack of progress. You will run the same speed and lift the same weight and the body will no have to adapt and you won’t improve.

  1. Safety

Progression should happen slowly. Injuries happen in all sports when people dump a lot of volume or intensity into training before, they are ready. Think about the new runner who goes from coach to 5k in 2 weeks and ends up back on the couch with an injury two weeks later. If he had logged his training he could have managed the distance far better.

The same principle holds true for weight on a bar or cycling or pull ups. Slow and steady progression is usually the safest way to secure long term progress. While logging alone isn’t sufficient to keep progression at the correct pace, ego checking and proper coaching help too, it is crucial. With out a log you can’t pace your progress properly.

  1. Workout efficacy

Journaling is key in sports like running and crossfit for several reason most importantly pacing and weight selection.

Pacing is easiest to see in running but CrossFit works the same way. Lets say I need to run a 5k for time. If you know your previous best is 28 minutes you know that taking off on a 7 minute first mile is too fast. Likewise a 13 minute opening 5280 feet doesn’t set you up to set a new PR. If you don’t know how fast you ran in the past you won’t know how fast you pace to maintain an optimal pace.

The second is more a CrossFit problem than other sports. How to select the right weight for a work out. At

Choosing the right level starts with tracking

our gym we run 5 levels of work outs for each class. For those not naturally capped like an amrap, we set a time cap. Those who select the correct weights and movements to finish under the cap progress the fastest. Yet even after telling people this we still have a lot of people cap out. I suspect that a lot of this is a lack of tracking. If you only have the capacity to do 3 pull ups at a time and this was logged you would be far less likely to select a work out level that required 5 rounds of 15 pull ups. Selecting the proper level will dramatically increase your results.


  1. Progress

CrossFit is hard. It will always be hard. It never gets easier. The only way to know you improved is by looking at your weights and times. Did you go faster? Then you got better. Period.

Even if you are using CrossFit as an adjunct to running or its to improve your basketball skills, doping more weight or going faster will help you more than doing the same weights at the same speed. Plus it’s fun to get better.

Up next: Part 2 and 3 How to Journal