One of the Best Pieces of Advice I Ever Received (at the Gym)

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I think every guy (and maybe girls too, I’m not sure) who has ever stepped foot in a gym has that one memory of starting out and being lucky enough to be taken under the wing of someone else.

Someone to show them the ropes, guide them, steer them away from the Smith machine.  Or, as Rod Tidwell from the movie Jerry Maguire would say, “be their ambassador of Quan.”

I had that guy back in the day when I first started working out at my local town fitness center.  His name was Joe, he was ginormous, and he just so happened to be one of the local sheriffs.

Every afternoon when I showed up to workout – I didn’t call it training back then – Joe would be there as well hoisting god-knows-how-much-weight, and I’d be in awe of him.

I didn’t have the courage to approach or talk to Joe right out of the gate to ask for advice partly because I was a scrawny, shy kid…..but mostly because I didn’t want him to eat me.

Soon enough, after a few weeks – maybe even months – I built what could be labeled as some semblance of a rapport with Joe, and I started peppering him with questions.

How much do you bench?

How often should I workout?

How much protein should I eat?

Who would win in an arm-wrestling match:  you or a tank?

Do you know Arnold?

Joe was always more than accommodating, answering my questions with equal parts mentor saavy and what I have to imagine was a smidgeon of eye rolling.

I remember he told me that one of his rituals was to toss in a raw egg whites into his protein shakes every night. Much to my mother’s chagrin I dutifully obliged.

He could have told me to put banana peels and unicorn tears into my shake and I would have done it.

More cogent to today’s conversation, however, was a piece of advice that Joe shared with me which stuck for a loooooooong time.  It’s something that he took seriously and made it a point to make sure that I treated it in the same fashion.  No BS.

And that was to always, no matter what, keep a training journal.

 “It’s going to serve as your bible,” he said.  “Use it, refer to it, never go to the gym without it.”

And I did.  I wrote down all my workouts with a pen or pencil, meticulously kept track of sets and reps, and would oftentimes jot down notes to myself as feedback.

In more ways than one, and as silly as it sounds, it was one of my best friends.  A sort of diary if you of blood, sweat, failure, and PRs.

One time, during a grueling deadlift session, I even taped a callous that ripped off my hand to that day’s training page.

I have no doubts that keeping and maintaining a training journal was what allowed me to continuously make progress in my teens through my twenties, and even now.

To this day I still have a pile of training notebooks tucked away in a box somewhere here in my apartment as well as at my parent’s house.

And while I don’t have one right in front of me, it’s fair to say that a typical passage would look something along the lines of this:

Here’s one from August 17, 2003

A1.  Bench Press 5×5: 205×5, 215×5, 225×5, 225×4, 225×3
A2.  Stretch Something (hahahaha, yeah right!)

B1.  Flat Bench DB Press 3×10: 70×10, 70×10, 70×10
B2.  I’m sad I’m not deadlifting today.

C1.  Chest Supported Row 4×8: 90×8, 90×8, 90×8, 90×8
C2.  Decline Bench EZ Bar Skull-Crusher 3×12: 60×12,60×12,60×12

*** Note to self:  don’t forget to set the DVR to record Alias tonight.  OMG Jennifer Garner is so hot.  I swear to god if Sydney and Michael don’t hook up soon I’m going to go crazy!

Oh, also, call mom.

D.  Bicep Curls 3x infinity – damn, you’re gunny.

Of course with the advent of technology and given that today’s world is almost entirely digital the era of the training journal has slowly died a slow death.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Technology – more or less – makes our lives easier.  I’m not going to go into the moral arguments that could be made with that statement, but lets just keep things nice a rosy and just run with it.

Introducing the App!

This is an instance where technology really amazes me. Many of you may recall my affiliation with the peeps over at, and if not, either way I’m really excited to announce the release of their FREE iOS 2.0 App.

What’s the Deal?

Beginners can have instant access to hundreds of pre-made trainer-approved workout plans, with a variety of  fitness goals to choose from. Our database of over 2,000 exercises includes demonstration videos, step-by-step instructions, and tips to help take the guesswork out of exercise technique and make for a safer time at the gym and better results over time.

Experienced lifters can build their own workouts with a quick exercise search and input their time, distance, and sets / reps as needed. Both exercises and workouts can be saved as Favorites for even easier access in subsequent workouts. The logger will also update with suggestions based on past workouts.

Set specific goals, visualize your progress, and optimize your workouts to improve your health in 2014!

Here’s Your Chance to Win a TRX System

Now here’s the cool part.  On top of all the cool give-aways and promotions that is promoting, they’ve partnered with me and my “community” to help sweeten the pot.

Here’s what you have to do.

In order to be entered into the app release giveaway, you must complete the following: 

1. Download the FREE app or you can go to Apple directly and download it HERE.

2. Log a workout on January 6th (<– THAT’s TODAY!!!!)

EDIT:  To say that the giveaway has been extended THROUGH TUESDAY, Jan. 7th!

3. Tweet your logged workout to @TonyGentilcore1 (Twitter) or Facebook share your workout with the hashtag #TonyGentilcore on January 6th (<– Again, THAT’s TODAY, Monday, Jan. 6th).

Winners will be randomly selected on January 8th!!!!.

And that’s it.  Rock on and happy lifting!

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

Comments for This Entry

  • TheGordonCarrier

    I just created an account to try this out. Fitocracy sucks and I have to say this isn't much better. Too many features that should be standard that require a "PRO" account.There is a guy who runs a site that is still in beta called TheSquatRack that deserves a lot more attention.

    January 6, 2014 at 11:08 am | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Sorry to hear that Gordon. You're entitled to your opinion, of course, but I find it odd that a FREE app which offers hundreds of FREE workouts is something to moan about. Everything isn't a perfect fit for everyone, but hopefully once you give a try for a few more days it will grow on you. Thanks for checking it out nonetheless.

      January 6, 2014 at 11:32 am | Reply to this comment

      • DH

        This response exemplifies why you continue to be one of my internet heroes. Keep up the great work.

        January 6, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Reply to this comment

      • TheGordonCarrier

        Maybe I am confused about how to navigate through the site. When I go to choose a workout plan and select free I get twenty different workouts most of which have blogilates in the title. Where are the hundreds of FREE weight training routines to choose from?

        January 6, 2014 at 4:38 pm | Reply to this comment

        • WTJeff

          Gordon, If you created a new account and downloaded the app today, you automatically received a free PRO membership for a month so every workout plan within the app is free (even if it has a PRO banner). Please let us know if we can help you with anything else. - WT Team (Jeff)

          January 6, 2014 at 6:43 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Pat

    This apps are awesome, but I will admit that training is something I "unplug" to do. That isn't to say I don't use sources like this blog, Cressey's blog, Men's Health, Fitoracy, Men's Fitness, Sean Hyson, Craig Ballantyne, Mike Whitfield ETC. While I know programming hopping is frowned upon, I love the availability of training resources out there!

    January 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Reply to this comment

  • skookumaj

    So is this only for people that have an iphone (which I don't) or are we also eligible when simply registering and logging our workout off of the website?

    January 6, 2014 at 10:41 pm | Reply to this comment

  • LannaEe

    Thanks for sharing! As a female, I find the gym can be intimidating. I like weights but often don't know what to do. I checked out this app today and like it. Easy to follow and LOVED the how to videos!!! I did want to share my log workout via FB tho, to enter, but can't seem to find a link to "share".

    January 6, 2014 at 11:59 pm | Reply to this comment

    • TonyGentilcore

      Glad to hear this Lanna. I'll be sure to pass it along to the peeps at

      January 7, 2014 at 10:37 am | Reply to this comment

    • Tyler S.

      Hi LannaEe, Once you've logged your workout, you can share it from the Workout Details screen by tapping the box the w/ arrow at the bottom of that screen. Your social sharing options will be displayed there. There is one added thing in iOS 7 - you may need to set up your Facebook Login on our main device Settings page first in order to see the Facebook share option. Let me know if you still are having issues!

      January 7, 2014 at 5:04 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Chris Tangredi

    still no android support =(

    January 7, 2014 at 9:00 am | Reply to this comment

    • Tyler S.

      Hi Chris, we wanted to launch a polished version of the iOS version before starting into Android. Our goal is to release an Android version at the end of April - You can sign up to be notified when it's ready on our App page (the link is right below the "Available in the App Store" button):

      January 7, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Reply to this comment

  • alissa_n

    So I downloaded the app, and managed to figure out how to add in my current program. Haven't used in the gym yet, but I'm excited to give it a whirl. Only thing I'm a little concerned about is that it seems to want to make my workout program public. I am currently using a program I purchased online - I would like not to broadcast her copyrighted material. Is there a way to set it to private?

    January 7, 2014 at 11:59 am | Reply to this comment

    • Tyler S.

      Glad you got your program up and running - we love the custom workout plan support! Go to your Settings at the bottom of the main Drawer, and turn off the Display Stats Publicly option. Your profile will be private & only you will see your activity.

      January 7, 2014 at 5:07 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Shelley

    really wanted to try this, but I'm running the previous OS on my iPhone (really hate the latest one and don't want to upgrade) Totally agree with your comments about logging. I've been doing so religiously for just over a year. At new years I compared where I had been at the start of last year to the start of this year - SO encouraging and motivating for setting 2014 goals

    January 9, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Reply to this comment

  • fitTek

    I tried starting on a month ago, and at first I was going strong. The first entry involved going to every machine as well as every iron exercise I did and recording my one rep max. I did this mainly to motivate myself to stack every machine listed. But alas, I didn't keep up with the journal. Thanks for the reminder. Also GROSS on the ripped callous in the journal story...but definitely vivid.

    January 10, 2014 at 2:13 am | Reply to this comment

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