One of the Best Pieces of Advice I Ever Received (at the Gym)
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 WeightTraining.com App!
This is an instance where technology really amazes me. Many of you may recall my affiliation with the peeps over at WeightTraining.com, 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 WT.com 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:
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!