It’s not just gym rats that keep a workout log. As a lower back pain sufferer i found logging my back exercises really helped in giving me confidence and indications in what was working and what I needed to do more of based on how I was feeling.
You see, I had tried so many exercises and variations that I no longer knew which exercise I should do and when due to injuries I had encountered along the way both at home and at the gym.
Therefore, when I was prescribed some strengthening exercises from one of the physiotherapists whom I felt confident with, one of the things I decided to do was to start logging my exercise reps and times after the exercise as I needed a way to know if the exercise I was doing was having a positive or negative impact on my lower back.
By doing this I would be able to have a system in place and tick off the types of exercises which worked and avoid the exercises that had little impact or gave me pain.
When given an exercise sheet of exercises from previous physiotherapists, I found at previous attempts when I was doing a few exercises, I would do them half heartedly with poor form as I got lazy and bored and therefore simply lost confidence in doing them.
Due to time commitments with work etc. I realised I needed to maybe do just 1 or 2 to start off with and monitor my progress. Otherwise how would i know which exercsies were having a positive impact?
Therefore initially I focused on only one exercise and simply zeroed in on performing it with the best form I could possibly apply.
To give you an example, one of the exercises I was prescribed was the Bird Dog exercise used for strengthening the multifidus muscle group which travels up on either side of the spine. I would perform the Bird dog twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening after I got back from work and log it.
Example, on day 1, I would log the amount of reps I could do in a given time period say in the morning. I would then stick to this rep and time for the next 2 to 3 days initially focusing on my form while performing it, allowing myself to improve my form and create a bit of a muscle memory in the manoeuvre/stance.
Now here comes the important bit, on the third or fourth day, I would then see if I can improve on the reps/time and log the outcome.
By doing this I would be applying a little more resistance to the exercise which would make the body work that little bit harder and hence improve the strength level if it was having a positive outcome. (There is more information on how I did this in my ebook as part of my training program if you are interested, where I explain how to progress with the exercises)
What I noticed over time was that I started to notice I was able to improve on my reps/times from the previous days exercise sessions.
This gave me confidence that the exercise and method I applied was working as I could see and feel the progress. This gave me the motivation to keep going and slowly introducing other exercises into my workout gradually while mastering each one.
It was very much a systematic process. I would feel a positive difference during the day especially the reduced discomfort or pain when I was sat in a chair working.
There is a full training program breakdown with step by step exercises and how long to perform them over days and how to progress available in my ebook if you want to learn more about my systematic process.
Below are pictures of my workout log diary which I kept once I got to a point with working out at the gym. For clarity, if we take a look at the image and look at ‘RC’ which is short for the Roman Chair exercise, you will notice there is progression in the Reps (R) and Weights (W) as jotted down in the workout log over time: