Shorthand Log

A weight training log allows for optimal progress. Too much or too little weight may be used if resistance is not recorded. If too much weight is used, form may suffer and injury is more likely. If too little weight is used, the body does not have to adapt to an overload (muscular strength, muscular size, power, increased bone density, joint integrity, increased metabolism, etc.).

The shorthand method of recording weight training progress can save time in writing. The traditional system calls for a resistance and repetitions performed to be recorded under a date column for every set and every workout. The shorthand method only calls for an initial resistance to be recorded for each exercise. A new resistance is recorded only when the repetition range has been exceeded. Columns represent weight increases, not workout dates. At the end of the month, a histogram is apparent, which can illustrate the effectiveness of each exercise relative to other exercises at a glance. Incidentally, the exercises of least familiarity are more likely to manifest greater strength gains. See Changing Exercises.


Warm-up set(s) 50% of workout weight 12 reps
Workout set(s) Recorded weight Repetition range (eg. 8-12 reps)
If repetition range is exceeded Increase workout weight 5-10% Record new workout weight for proceeding set or next workout

Dumbbell Seated Shoulder External Rotation

  • Warm-up set is performed with approximately half of recorded weight
    • 12 - 15 reps can be performed easily
    • No record of warm-up is required since it can be easily calculated from workout weight
  • Workout set
    • Perform last recorded weight
    • Example: weight allows at least 8 repetitions, but no more than 12 repetitions to be performed
  • Increase of 5-10% of workout weight is recorded when 12 reps were achieved
    • No record of repetitions is needed
      • Specific fluctuations of repetitions from workout to workout are not consequential
      • New workout weight is recorded when 12 reps are achieved
        • for next workout: single workout set method
        • for next set: multiple set method
  • If multiple sets are performed
    • Straight sets: use the same resistance on all workout sets
    • Heavy set: after first workout set with recorded resistance, use 5% more weight
      • Perform one rep just short of failure or compromised form
      • No need to record heavy set since it can easily be calculated in head
        • Maintains simplicity and brevity of shorthand method
        • Weight increases will be dependent upon first workout set
      • Also see Shorthand Log: Implementing Varying Workloads

Example Shorthand Workout Log

Example of exercise log using shorthand method (8-12 reps)
1) Sled 45° Leg Press 150 160 170 180 190    
2) Lever Leg Curl 5 5.5 6        
3) Smith Standing Calf Raise 30 45 60 75      
4) Cable Seated Row 95 100 105 110 115 120 130
5) Dumbbell Lateral Raise 2 *10 2 *12 2 *15        
6) Assisted Chest Dip Weight 90 85 80 75 70 65  
Warm Up 130   125   120    
7) Incline Leg Hip Raise
(20-50 reps)
Weight -   1     2  
Reps 30 40 20 30 40    

Sled 45º Leg Press

  1. Increase of 5-10% of workout weight was recorded when 12 reps were achieved
  2. Intermediate weight (1/2 brick) on weight stack was used to increase weight 5-10%
  3. Some exercises' actual resistance includes both added weight and a portion of body weight
    • Consider this when calculating warm-up weights (50% of resistance) and weight increases (5-10% of resistance).
    • Exercise examples: squats, calf raises, dips, chin ups, pull ups (also see exercise #6)
    • Workout example: 170 lbs. body weight + 30 lbs. of added resistance = 200 lbs. of resistance)
    • Warm-up: 50% of 200 lbs. of resistance = 100 lbs.
      • ideal warm-up: 170 lbs of body weight - 100 lbs. = 70 lbs
      • for convenience, use body weight for heavy warm-up until added resistance exceeds body weight
      • Warm-up can be recorded if "half" is difficult to calculate in head (See exercise #6)
    • Weight increases: 5-10% of 200 lbs. = 10-20 lbs.
  4. For 5-10% weight progressions: increase in increments of 5 lbs. (or 0.5 units) until resistance is increased to well beyond 100 lbs. (or 10 units) after which, increments of 10 lbs. (or 1 unit) may be used.
  5. If two dumbbells were used, 2 * may be written before the weight of one dumbbell. For an even briefer record, record 2 * within the exercise name column just left to the initial weight.
    • Also, if the next weight progression is greater than 10% (5-10% recommended) perform more repetitions before graduating to the next weight
      • Example: progressing from 10 lbs. to 12 lbs. is a 20% increase in weight. Instead of progressing to the next weight after performing 12 reps, perform about 15 reps before progressing to 12 lbs.
  6. Assisted exercises' actual resistance equals the assistance weight subtracted from the body weight
    • Exercise examples: assisted dips, chin ups, and pull ups
    • Workout example: 170 lbs. body weight - 90 lbs. of assistance resistance = 80 lbs. of resistance)
    • Warm-up: 50% of 80 lbs. of resistance = 40 lbs.
      • Warm-up: 170 lbs of body weight - 40 lbs. = 130 lbs
      • Warm-up can be recorded if "half" is difficult to calculate in head
      • Warm-up changes once for every two times workout resistance progresses
    • Weight increases: 5-10% of 80 lbs. = 4-8 lbs.
  7. Repetitions may be recorded if repetitions are high (eg. 20-30 reps, 20-50 reps, 50-100 reps)
    • Round down to nearest 5 or 10 reps if shorthand method is preferred (saves writing reps every workout)
    • Record next greater 10 reps when achieved
    • If upper limit of repetition range is achieved, record next greater resistance
      • Keep rep block blank until next greater resistance is performed, then round down to nearest 10 reps

Workload Adjustment Calculator can automatically calculate many of these figures, including warm-up weight and weight increases.

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