One of the most productive methods I ever practiced for getting in shape was to keep a training diary. I’d buy a book with blank pages at a bookstore, and at the front of the book I’d draw in a continuous six-month calendar. I preferred books with graph paper, as it was easier to draw lines. Filling two pages opposite one another gave me the opportunity to see exactly where I was in my peaking schedule. I’d enter the bodyparts worked each day, then cross them off when completed. On the following two pages I’d write my workout on the left-hand page and my eating for the day on the right-hand page. I kept extensive diaries when I was competing, ending up with more than 20 bound volumes that I published in 1997 as Mind Body Spirit Personal Training Diaries.
After a workout I’d write in the date at the top of the page and then fill in my workout. I remembered everything I did in the gym, and writing it down enabled me to mentally let go of the workout and let it do its work. For example, I wrote my first back exercise as: Front pulldown, 150 x 12, 165 x 10, 175 x 8 reps. Every time I used more weight or more reps on my last set than in my previous workout, I’d put a star by the entry. I did that with about one-third of my exercises. That weight-star method enabled me to get stronger and grow. My goal was to score a star on each exercise every third time I did the routine. At the end of each session I wrote in my abdominal exercises and the number of reps; I seldom used weights for abs. I started doing 200 to 300 total reps for abs, and by the time I was peaking, I was up to 1,000 total ab reps.
About two months before my peaking date, which was usually a competition, I stopped increasing my weight and instead upped the intensity. I did more sets in the same amount of time or the same number of sets in less time. If it took me 60 minutes to do 30 total sets, the next workout I did 31 sets in 60 minutes, or 30 sets in 59 minutes. By doing more work in less time, I got more muscular definition. I tried not to drop my poundages too much to keep the size I’d gained. That was my time-star method.
Across from my workout was the food I ate and supplements I took each day. Having to account for what I ate helped me stay on a good diet. The rule is, If you eat it, you must write it down.
I’d write down each item of food, the time, the amount, the grams of carbohydrate, protein and fat and the calories for everything I ate. I looked up the values in a simple reference book like Dr. Atkins New Low-Carbohydrate Gram Counter, which contains carb, protein and fat totals for common foods. A more comprehensive food-values reference book is the Encyclopedia of Food Values by Corinne T. Netzer.
My goal was to eat 1 to 1.5 grams of protein and 0.5 to 1 gram of carbs per pound of bodyweight three days in a row. That put me into ketosis by the second or third consecutive day, so to avoid feeling weak and losing muscle size, I replenished glycogen by increasing my carb intake to equal my protein intake. I kept fat at 25 percent of my total calories by eating lean meats and not indulging in pure fats, like butter and cream. At 200 pounds bodyweight I got up to 300 grams of protein, 100 to 200 grams of carbs and 60 to 74 grams of fat daily.
The training diary works because it gives you feedback. You have a record of what you did, which you can use the next time you’re working to reach a peak.
Editor’s note: For information about Zane’s products and services visit www.FrankZane.com.
Frank Zane was meticulous about documenting his training and diet, and that helped him improve his physique every year and reach the pinnacle of bodybuilding success. IM