Keep A Training Log Book! By Tommy Kono

Gold Medalist and weightlifting champion Tommy Kono will explain why and how you should keep logging your training, have fun – Mr. Berg

tommy kono weightlifting champion

Chest – 29″, Expanded – 30″, Waist – 26″, Arms – 8 “, Flexed – 9″, Height – 4’8 1/2”, Bodyweight – 74 1/2lb., and so on went the list Tommy Kono had written down in his notebook for March 27, 1942 when he was 11 years old. He had sent a postcard to one of the popular “train-by-mail” schools for more information about their bodybuilding course and he was sent a measurement form. He had his older brother carefully measures him and although he filled out the form he never mailed it nor the 36 dollars that was necessary to encoll in the course.

He was intensely interested in developing his skinny body, however, so he made copies of this form and measured himself quite regularly even though he had not taken up any form of systematic training.

Years later he had learned about weight training and entered his first weightlifting competition in early 1948. Then he started to keep some notes on his weight training in addition to the body measurements. At first he used to write only the new training records he would make.

In reviewing his training program he found that the notes he kept were too incomplete so he started to write down every repetition and the number of sets and weights he would handle.

The loose leaf notebook he had been using wasn’t satisfactory so he switched to the spiral ring type notebook used by stenographers. During his second year of competitive lifting he started to keep notes not only of his training but also any new ideas he would have in regards to technique, training methods, goals and training plans.

In essence his training log book became a diary of everything concerned with weightlifting. He referred to it often in checking the progress he was making and to correct any weak points of his lifts by reviewing the technique notes.

The more Mr. Kono became involved in weightlifting the more training notes he started keeping. It was at this point that he noticed that the amount of improvement made in his lifts was in direct proportion to the amount of notes he kept.

During the past few decades the Russians, Poles, Bulgarians, East Germans, and Hungarians have all come out with their own training log books. It is no small wonder that these Eastern European nations have bettered their performances. 

The coaches and lifters make good use of the information within the loog books.

At the 1968 Olympic the defending Suerpheavyweight Olympic Champion Zhabotinsky proudly informed Mr. Kono that he had filled 6 log books with his training data. Many times world champion, Victor Kurentsov is always seen at the training hall with his log book. Batishev, the second best Superheavy of Russia, has his book in his training bag all the time and constantly refers to it during his actual training and writes in his lifts. The outstanding Polish lifter, Baszanowsky, keeps a very detailed account of his training. If men of this caliber keep a written record of their training why not the lesser talented lifters?

tommy kono coaching

When Tommy Kono started his work in Mexico in 1966 as a national coach he required every lifter who trained under him to keep a writing record of what he did during each training period. When he moved to West Germany to coach he asked that a weightlifting log book be made available to the better lifters. 

In early 1970 Dave Webster, the Scottish national coach, and he collaborated and produced what he believes to be the first English language edition of a training log book. Writing your training on a scrap of paper as he has seen some do is not a good method for many times the paper becomes lost or the lifter either forgets or become too lazy and does not transfer this note into a permanent book. The book you use does not have to be an expensive nor an alaborate one but rather a stury one that can withstand heavy usage.

To save yourself lots of writing you could use abbreviations and code numbers or letters or use a certain corner only to keep certain notes. The important information that you should include are the following:
day, date, time – beginning and ending of the workout – and if you train at various places write the name of the place and naturally the exercises – sets, reps, weights used, bodyweight either before or after the workout or both. 

Also include a little remark about the workout or of a special exercise. You can become more detailed in your note taking by including other factors such as the amount of sleep you had the previous night and any rest period you may have taken during the day prior to your workout, your general feeling – wich is subjective but may help you evaluate your training later on – before your training session.

A long time ago Tommy Kono reads that one of the most interesting books for any person to read is his own savings account book. You can usually tell when you received a raise or purchased a new car or got a bonus, etc. It shows a systematic saving or undisciplined approach to saving. For a weightlifter the most interesting book for him to read would be his own training log book.

It would show his progress or his lack of progress. You can use the information to analyze your past lifting and from this develop a better future training plan.

According to Kono back in those days it is very rare in the U.S. to come across a lifter with any sort of a coach helping him plan his training routine and correcting his faults in lifting technique. Nearly all the past and present crop of good lifters are self-trained, getting ideas from lifting journals and speaking with other lifters and getting some helpful hints from former lifters.

Those who show continued progress are the lifters who are constantly seeking information, reflecting back to their training program and trying to improve on their training plan by analyzing their past training. Tommy Kono has often borrowed and used the expression, “The palest of ink is better than the best of memory,” and it holds true more so in weightlifting than in any other sport.

In weightlifting a person can deal so closely with statistics and data. The Russians have come out with such terms as “tonnage,” “intensity” and “monthly volume load” which came about only from research and analysis of the written training logs of hundreds of their top lifters and thousands of their lesser known lifters.

Written records have great influence in the development of mankind. Statistics help us evaluate the past and present and predict the future more accurately. Writing things down also helps us think more clearly and precisely.

One of the greatest advantages in keeping a training log book is the fact that it helps you organize your training, exercises and sequence of exercises.

It also helps you concentrate on what you are trying to accomplish with your training. Another worthy point is that it helps you form a better training plan for the future by being able to evaluate your previous plan.

It is neither too late nor too early to start keeping a training log book. The champions do, so why not you?


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