The Workout Journal: How to Track Workouts for Pastors

March 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

Today I want to share my system for tracking my workouts.

In a nutshell, if you don’t track your workouts it is really hard to accomplish your health goals.  It is essential to track in order to see your progress and get unstuck.

I agree with fitness guru James Clear who says that tracking your workouts whether it be with a workout journal, a fitness app, or something else) should accomplish 3 goals… Here’s what he says,

1.  It should be quick and easy, so that you can spend your time exercising. Your time should be spent doing the work, not recording it.

2.  It should be useful. Our modern world is overflowing with data and most of it is never acted upon.

3.  It should be versatile.

With that said, here’s the workout journal tracking system that has worked best for me.

To start, I use this:


I paid around $14 for it at a Hastings book store but you can order it cheaper from Amazon here.  Obviously, any notebook will do, but I like this particular one because it is small enough to toss in my bag and it has a firm water-proof/ sweat-proof cover that doesn’t bend or tear with repeated use.

For the past several years I’ve tried to use an app or something on my computer but for me it was hard to keep up with and I needed something right there during and immediately after my workouts so I wouldn’t forget what I just did rather it be a weight or amount of reps.  I needed something more #2 and #3 from above.  For you it may be different but just remember the goal is to track so find a system that works for you.

I still use Lose It to keep track of my nutrition and caloric intake.  For greater accountability give someone your login and password.  If you need more direction hire a coach to help you navigate your nutrition.

How to Track Your Workouts

Step 1: Record the date, your bodyweight, (up to you to do it daily or weekly just keep in mind it fluctuates so don’t get discouraged if you do it daily) and your sleeping patterns.

I typically do this as soon as my early morning time with the Lord is complete and right before I head to the gym.

Step 2: Write your planned workout routine for the day in the following format:

[Cardio Exercise] — [Time] [Distance] [Intensity] + additional notes

[Strength Training] — [Weight] – [Sets] x [Reps]


At this point, I write out what I expect to do for the day.  You can see to the right what I did just a few days ago as an example.

I write out every single set I do, including any warm-up, because it keeps me focused and progressing forward.  Once I have a plan, I can just pick up the weights and go.

Step 3: Record tally marks as you complete your work sets or adjust weights as you go if need be.

When you’re in the middle of a workout, it can be easy to forget what set you just completed. This is especially true when the weight gets heavy and you’re too busy huffing and puffing to remember if you just finished set 2 or 3.

For me, the lifting sequence usually goes like this:

Do the lift.
Make a tally mark, record, and make adjustment.
I don’t stop and rest in between sets as I want to keep my heart rate up and avoid wasting too much time in the gym.  I usually hit the water fountain after every round of sets.
If necessary, change the weight for the next set.

Step 4: Vary this basic structure as needed for the training session.

The beauty of this system is that it’s incredibly versatile while still being clean and simple for any given workout.  As James Clear states,

“Most apps and pieces of software meanwhile are either simple but limited, or versatile but bloated with features.”

If you need just a simple first step to get going print off or download the simple 7-day tracker that we developed  within Fit Pastors below.

What works for you?  How do you keep track of your workouts?  Would love to hear!



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