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How to Create a Workout Chart for the Gym for Beginners

author image Sam Ashe-Edmunds
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.
How to Create a Workout Chart for the Gym for Beginners
An exercise journal with an apple and tape measure beside it. Photo Credit: Gustavo Toledo/iStock/Getty Images

Tracking your results and progress when working out is an effective way to help you meet your fitness goals. Many people set exercise goals, but a lack of feedback, other than the bathroom scale, often leads to frustration, boredom or plateauing. A workout chart will help you set goals, monitor your progress, make adjustments and continue to benefit from your gym routines.

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Step 1

Write a list of fitness goals. Rank, in order of importance, weight loss, heart health, muscular endurance and muscle building.

Step 2

Create a chart by writing exercises and types of equipment down the left-hand side of the page. Across the top of the page, from left to right, create the following columns: reps, sets, weights, resistance levels, speed, incline, average heart rate, calories burned, and minutes.

Step 3

Make copies of the chart. Make enough copies to update your results each workout, week or month, depending on how often you plan to update the chart.

Step 4

Fill in the chart after your first workout. For example, include the weight of dumbbells or other weights you used, the number of repetitions you performed in each set, and the number of sets you performed during your workout if your goal was muscle building. Add your average heart rate during the exercises and the number of minutes you performed each exercise if you used the dumbbells to create a weight-loss or muscular endurance circuit training routine. Include the calories you burned if you used a heart rate monitor.

Step 5

Fill in the machine setting you used during your workout. For example, if you used a treadmill, add the speed or speeds you used, as well as the incline. Include your heart rate and calories burned, as displayed by the machine’s console, and any workout program you chose.

Step 6

Compare your workouts on a weekly basis to note your improvement. Set goals to raise your heart rate, number of reps, sets, minutes and other areas of your workouts.

Step 7

Set new goals based on incremental increases each week, based on your workout chart data, not on recommendations from a book or website. For example, aim for increasing workout times each week by five minutes, your treadmill speed by .5 mph, or raising your heart rate by a few beats per minute, rather than attempting to go directly from a beginner pace to an aerobic heart rate after two weeks.

Step 8

Track the type of exercise you do to prevent a work out plateau. Emphasize cardio for one or two weeks, and then switch to workouts that emphasize muscle building for one week. Eliminate some exercises for one or two weeks and then add them back, eliminating exercises you have done during the preceding week or two.

Step 9

Use your chart to help you create workouts that emphasize muscle building, endurance, or weight loss by changing weights and resistance settings on machines and doing more or fewer reps. More weight or higher resistance settings and fewer reps helps builds muscle. Less weight and more reps helps raise your heart rate for longer periods.

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