For the longest time I thought I was too cool to record my weight, reps, and sets in the gym. In fact, not only did I preach about how irrelevant it was to do so, I also found myself judging people that walked around the gym with a notebook and pen. Let me share a quote with you from one of my all time favorite movies, Pulp Fiction "Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps." Though taken a bit out of context from the situation in the movie, there is definitely truth to this quote in most situations we find ourselves in life. For some, it can be the pride that keeps them from saying "sorry", and others, doing an activity alone in fear of judgement from others. For me, it was my pride that kept me from recording my weights in the gym, assuming only "novice" fitness enthusiasts did it. Well guess what? It was also my pride that kept me from reaching my potential. Now, six months into recording my weights and reps I am squatting, deadlifting, and bench pressing more weight than ever before. My fiance frequently compliments me on how much bigger both my butt and pecs have gotten!
So what's the big deal with tracking progress? Progression Overload, or (overly) simply defined as "doing better than last time." Before, I was just guessing the amount of weight I lifted the previous week, there was no control. If it felt tough, I was doing something right. And to a point, this worked, and I gained muscle because guess what, if you lift really hard 5x a week, something is going to happen. Sadly, that something came at a much slower pace than these past 6 months. Never am I unsure about what weight to use, how many reps to do, I always have a goal, setting the bar just a little higher than the previous week, and that goal has made all the difference. And if you record your weights but can't ever seem to go up in weight? Check your DIET first, and then your lifting intensity.
I sent a text message out to all of my clients yesterday about this very rule, and I think it is so important that I will stress it again, and no, this is not an April Fools Joke. The 80 20 rule promotes BALANCE. Balance in life is what keeps us sane, keeps us motivated, and is a more realistic approach to attacking a goal or task. This rule says that 80% of the time, or about 1 day a week, you should be giving 100% percent your very best to what you are trying to achieve, and 20% you can be more lax and "enjoy" life (though i find being productive quite enjoyable). In fitness, this would be doing your workouts to the best of your ability, eating to support your goals, and not half-assing what you are trying to achieve. For the general population this rule could be applied to a simple work/life balance. I know a guy who works his ass off everyday at his job, a very important one at that, but frequently goes on vacations (probably about 20% of his life) to balance out the stress he endures. But, doing this allows him to continue to perform at his job at the highest possible standard. Guys, STOP justifying your mistakes. Stop thinking you are doing your very best 80% of the time when really it's only 50%. If you go to work or the gym and don't give it your best effort, and then do whatever the fuck you want on the weekends, you are NOT following the 80 20 rule and you won't see your body change, an increase in income, whatever. Make the sacrifice, do your shit, and then enjoy the spoils once you've EARNED it. On the other hand, don't just try and conquer the world overnight because that is also not a balance and you may very well find yourself burned out after a few days/weeks/years.