Workout Diary: Help Your Clients Get It Write!

Dean Hodgkin | 03 Jul 2017

A simple yet incredibly useful tool to ensure your clients retain a positive mindset, particularly when exercising becomes tough or blips occur, is a workout diary.

Basic in design and easy to use, a workout diary has the power to motivate your clients to achieve more, whether that's measured in terms of a quicker time for a 5K, a few more Kgs on the bench press or a few less Kgs when they stand on the scales. Recording their sessions with you but more importantly, any workouts they execute alone, could give the winning edge they need. So just how does a workout diary help?


What happens if you swap cardio and make your clients do it after resistance exercises for a change, can they handle a greater volume of work? The only route to analysing variations to enable your clients to perform better in their workouts is by them having a record of what they usually do. Often simply by you and/or them looking back at past workouts might establish what they did differently that led to them working at a higher level on a particular exercise or drill.

Staying on Track

Reviewing a training diary can be invaluable when motivation wanes by reminding your client just how far they’ve come already. Cleary then if they were able to make that much progress, there’s no reason why they can’t continue to move forwards.


You will no doubt have informed your clients that progress will only be achieved through effort and key to this is you overloading their physiological systems in order to bring about the adaptations that bring results. Keeping a log of workouts will enable you to establish a definite start point and then enable your clients to check they are regularly making small increases that will guarantee achievement of goals.


Keeping a record of the various factors that could affect or be affected by an exercise programme will enable you and your client to assess how well it suits their lifestyle. The ability to review meals and how they influenced workouts could be incredibly useful. Recording sleep patterns may lead to you changing the time of your clients evening workouts and understanding how certain exercise themes affect their mood could steer the way you design future progressions.


A diary is an ideal tool for venting frustrations, anxieties and disappointments related to exercise journey, enabling your client to view them objectively and so to establish solutions. A useful psychological tool is to subliminally reprimand your clients by putting a cross in their diary on the days they missed a workout as this has been shown to lead to better attendance afterwards.

Reality Check

Occasionally, not just beginners but even exercise addicts perceive they have chalked off a higher volume of work in a particular workout than was actually true. A training diary removes the uncertainty as previous workouts can be reviewed and compared, giving a genuine view of effort.

Muscle Confusion

The dreaded plateau effect can plague regular exercisers as their body becomes accustomed to the workout you have designed for them so mixing things up is needed to stimulate the physiological systems to respond. If your client has an historical record it will be easy for them to look back and find a period where their journey stalled before and discover what changes they or you made that overcame the stall.

I strongly recommend the use of a training diary as it helps to ensure the programme you design for a client becomes something you do with them rather than to them.

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Dean Hodgkin

About the author: Dean Hodgkin

A truly international fitness ambassador, having appeared at both consumer and trade fitness events in 36 countries resulting in being voted Best International Fitness Presenter at the 1 Body 1 World awards in New York. In addition, he recently received the Lifetime Achievement award at the International Fitness Showcase, Europe’s largest group fitness event. Dean has been teaching sport and fitness since 1981, is renowned for delivering a wide range of master-classes and seminars covering many themes and has accumulated a wealth of experience that reaches into several domains.

He has appeared as a guest expert on a large number of television and radio programmes both in the UK and overseas and in trying to preach the fitness gospel to as wide an audience as possible he has filmed workouts on a boat in the middle of Lake Windermere, on the set of Coronation Street, on the end of Blackpool pier, in Times Square, on the roof of a Mumbai skyscraper, in a busy hotel lobby in Taipei and in an Amsterdam park with a Dutch soap opera star. Leading a mass workout in London’s Battersea Park, standing in front of the accompanying Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, is a particular highlight.

Dean has created two unique products for The Great Courses that combine education and exercise to help the viewer to better understand how the body works and how physical activity can positively affect it in so many ways. He has also co-authored two fitness books and regularly writes features for mainstream newspapers and magazines with a list that includes The Times, Sunday Times, GQ, FHM, Men’s Health, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Health & Fitness, Zest, Women’s Fitness, Slimming and Bodyfit.

His unique ability to create diverse lifestyle programmes also led to him working with major brand names including Reebok, Marks & Spencer, Weight Watchers, RAC, Nike, Remington, David Lloyd, British Dental Association, 3 Mobile, Boots, Aviva and Whitbread.

As a sportsman, he was 3-times World and 2-times European Karate Champion. Coaching experience includes working with basketball, soccer, tennis, golf and American football players.

Dean is currently retained as a consultant by both multi-award winning spa resort Ragdale Hall and Energie Global Brand Management, the leading fitness industry franchise operator.

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