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This will be my last post at jwilliamsfitness.
Before you start to cry and feel an empty void in your life. I have some good news. I have started a new website at williamstrainingsystems.com .
Check it out and let me know what you think.
If you are stepping into a workout facility, I hope you have the mind set to go hard. That your goal in the next hour is to get some serious work done and not to just socialize with you fellow friends and gym buddies.
The mind set to go hard and get everything out of that 1 or 2 hours of gym time is a great one to have, and few people have a mindset like this. For the people that are constantly pushing the weights, you have to know yourself. You have to know when to push your body and when to hold back. The idea of holding back can seem foreign and almost offensive to you as a determined individual.
Learning when to hold back in the long run will save your body a lot of pain down the road. It will also help optimize your gains and prevent burn out.
There are different thoughts on whether or not missing lifts is O.K. or not. I would never say it’s good to miss a lift. Some will say it is good because it shows that you are trying and always pushing yourself.
I fall on the other side. I do not think it is ever O.K. to miss a lift.
My reasoning is this. When you miss a lift it hurts your confidence, so that next time you go to lift heavy there will be a thought in the back of your head thinking, “I might not get this”. This will hinder your progression. The other reason is that if you are missing lifts you are lifting more then you can handle. Even if you get the reps in, you most likely compensated somewhere else to get those reps in.
When you notice that you start to miss more lifts, then maybe you should take notice and back off. This is not the time to think that you need to push even harder. Take a step back and reassess why you are missing.
I will always say form is king. When you lift with bad form, eventually something bad will happen.
Let’s take a simple bicep curl. What do you do when you are trying to get those last few reps. One, you will start increasing the momentum and incorporating the shoulder. Or the other common method is to just arch your back way back and lift with all you’ve got.
You will get your reps in this way, but it’s the wrong way and we all know it. By doing this you are bringing in other muscle groups, such as the back muscles. The bending of your back just gets you through the hardest part of the lift, the middle portion, by making the pull more horizontal and less vertical thereby decreasing the effects of gravity. This is not O.K. because now you are putting a lot of unnecessary stress on the lower back.
This is just one simple exercise where you can see bad form. Just imagine all the ways you can get more reps out of a deadlift if you let your form go. If you are lifting with bad form you are compensating somewhere else. This will put stress somewhere that it does not belong, eventually this will lead to an injury of some sort.
If your form starts to go, take a step back. You will be much stronger and healthier in the long run if you lift with good form.
You would think people would listen to pain, but most people will just push it aside as their body being a puss. If you feel pain, stop. I should not even have to write this. Just stop. This is not the time to push on.
Stop what you are doing and look at what is causing you pain. It could be that you are weak in a particular area or have instability or that you are over working a particular area. There could be many reasons. Listen to your body and take a step back and get healthy.
If you learn when to hold back it will save you a lot of pain in the long run. The goal of weight lifting is to feel better, not worse. Listen to these three simple rules: Don’t Miss Lifts, Form is King, and Listen to Your Pain.
Have a great week.
It seems to me that over the years eating has somehow become an over-complicated and analyzed thing. You would think that more information on a subject would be better, but it almost seems as if all this information is inhibiting what we humans were supposed to do – enjoy and eat food.
Now it does not help that most of the foods we call foods are actually highly processed food, full of things our body was not meant to handle. Such foods as the high fructose corn syrups and refined white flours for example.
On top of this there are so many different views of food and how it should be eaten and how much of what. Over just the past few years the thinking has done a full 180. It was eat lots of carbs and little fats, now it is eat lots of fats and proteins and little carbs. You also have the, eat only veggies and fruits people, the vegetarians, pescetarian, and many other tarian groups. I guess your safest bet is to just not eat, and stick to water (don’t do this you will die).
The question is what should I eat? Are fats evil? How about carbs (Legend has it that the devil created carbs. Sounds plausible), and what about proteins, why isn’t anyone talking about proteins?I guess they get a pass. How can three macronutrients get so over complicated?
Lots of questions
Here’s my attempt at simplifying what you should eat. This is my opinion, you can take it or leave it, but here it is.
Fats are good, proteins are good, and carbs, carbs are well, good. All three are good for you. You should be eating all three of them. Your body needs all three of them. None of them are inherently bad for you. All are good in the right quantities and from the right sources.
Picking the right foods is the problem for most people. So what is food? Strange question right? Food is something that is ingested for its nutritious substance, which comes from plants and animals. So food is meat, fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains. Food is not processed breads, pastas and meats.
There are 7 rules that Michael Pollan goes over in his book, In Defense of Food, which should help you make good
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat any thing with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarkets; shop on the perimeter, and shop at farmers markets or grow your own food when possible.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot
- Stop eating before you are full, leave the table a little hungry
- Eat as a family, not in front of the TV, but at the dinner table
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.
If you follow these simple rules you will be healthier for it. There is no, eat this much fat or this many carbs. If you are eating real foods, as your body was designed to do, you will be doing just fine. And, have some control and don’t pig out every meal.
Stop over-complicating eating. You know what you should be eating for the most part. Eat in moderation and eat real foods. It sounds too simple to work, but it works and has worked since the dawn of time.
I just got back from a nice long four day weekend. It really hit the spot. I spent the time celebrating the marriage of two of my good friends. There were lots of laughs, some tears (talking about you Matt), and even more drinking, singing, and dancing.
You are all probably wondering. Did I partake in all of these festivities? Hell Yeah I did. I am not going to pass up an open bar, you crazy. I was also able to show off my two left feet on the dance floor. Did I mention singing? I sound like Barry White, in my head and William Hung to everyone else. Needless to say it was a great wedding, Congratulations Matt and Cory.
After two days of having Dunk and Doughnuts for breakfast I am happy to be back home and away from all those delicious treats.
So now that I am completely off track on this post let me get back to what the title is all about and what I promised last week. Last week I talked about the, oh so popular excuse, of not having enough time to do something healthy for yourself. You can read that here.
As promised, here are three ways to get you in and out of the gym in less than 30 minutes.
Complexes or finisher as some people call them are a nice quick easy way to get a quick workout in if you don’t have a lot of time. The great thing with complexes is you don’t have to have a gym and they require little to no equipment.
What You Need:
As I said above you can use anything. Barbells, Dumbbells, Straps, Kettelbells, Bands, or Bodyweight. These can all be used to complete a complex. You don’t need any fancy equipment or even a gym. All you need is enough space.
How to Set UP:
Pick 3 to 5 exercises, which will transition well from one to the other. The complex will be full body. Your set range will be 2 to 5, your reps 5 to 10, and your rest 30 sec to 2 minutes.
When it comes to selecting a weight you will base it off of the exercise that you are the weakest at.
Example: If my complex is a Barbell front squat, to push press to good morning for 3 sets of 5. And I can front squat 185 for 5, push press 110 for 5, and good morning 165 for 5. My weakest link is the push press so I will pick a weight of about 95 pounds.
I put this in here because you should be doing every rep as fast as you can without compromising form. After every set you should be breathing hard and if you are not then you are not doing it right. You need to push past your comfort zone, it’s not meant to be easy. You need to go as hard as you can for every rep and set.
Beginners: 3 exercises, 2-3 sets, 5-7 reps, and 90sec-2min rest
Intermediate: 3-4 exercises, 3-4 sets, 5-8 reps, and 60 sec-90sec rest
Advanced: 4-5 exercises, 3-5 sets, 5-10 reps, and 30sec- 60sec rest
You can also increase the weight but I would leave that as the last progression.
Barbell Lunge to Good Morning to Push Press: 3 sets of 6 reps 2 min rest
DB Clean, front squat, push press, RDLs, bent over row: 3 sets of 5 reps 60 sec rest
I am sure you have heard of the Tabata protocol. And I bet a lot off you have tried it, but I also bet only a small percent have actually done it to the intensity it was meant to be done at.
With this being said it is an extremely effective way to get a great fast workout in.
Like the complex you can use anything. Refer back to the complex.
How to Set Up:
The traditional Tabata is 20 sec of work and 10 sec of rest for 4 minutes. You can just do one exercise or cycle through a couple of different exercise. I prefer to use bodyweight exercise, med balls, or anything that is simple and can be done quickly and at a high intensity.
Again you are going as hard as you can go for 20 seconds. The first time you do this there is a good chance you will feel light headed or even not be able to complete the whole 4 minutes. Which is ok.
Beginner: 10 sec work 20 sec rest 4 minutes
Intermediate: 15 sec work 15 sec rest 4 minutes
Advanced: 20 sec work 10 sec rest 4 minutes
Burpees, that’s it, just do a crap ton of burpees as fast as you can. Does not sound too bad but I bet you won’t be able to finish your first time.
Squat Jumps to Med Ball Slams, do 20 seconds of squat jumps and then your next round do 20 seconds of med ball slams.
If you are in a crunch for time then go big. Stick with your multi joint lifts, it’s not sexy but it works.
What You Need:
I prefer the barbell but you can also use dumbbell and kettelbells. But you will get the most out of the barbell just because you can lift more weight using a barbell then you can with the other pieces of equipment.
Unlike the two other protocols you are going to have to go to a gym or at least have some weights lying around the house to complete this.
How to Set Up:
Pick an upper and a lower body exercise. You’re going to do 5×5 for sets and reps.
If you do a knee dominant exercise and push dominant exercise on one day, then the next day you will do a hip dominant and a pull dominant exercise the next day.
You are not going to be going as intense as the two other protocols but you are going to be lifting heaver weights. This will allow you to maintain and gain strength.
Day 1: Squats 5×5 and Bench 5×5
Day 2: Deadlifts 5×5 and Pull Ups/Bent over Row: 5×5
Final Two Cents
Complexes and Tabatas are a couple of great ways to get a quick intense full body workout in less then 30 minutes. If you do these correctly you will see an increase in aerobic and anaerobic capacity as well as see a decrease in body fat.
With the go big principle you will be able to maintain your strength when you can’t devote hours to the weight room.
With these three protocols you should have no excuse to find time to get a good effective lift in.
The word on the street or streets (I don’t know any more, found out this week I am not all that hip with it any more) is that people don’t have enough time to get in shape. I have been told that the biggest reason that people don’t get a workout in each week is because of time. Now I have not looked that statistic up, but it sounds about right.
One thing I took from an economics class back in my college days was that time is the most valuable commodity out there. Time is something that you don’t get back. There are 24 hours in a day and 8 of those hours go to sleep and 8 more for work and for the fun of it lets say you have to travel and you stay a little late at work because, well you like it so much, so lets say that’s another 2 hours. If my math is correct that only leaves 6 hours of free time for “you time”.
And that’s assuming you are living the bachelor or bachelorette life style, if you have kids, I am guessing it’s somewhere between 2 and 0 hours of free time (I don’t have kids so if you do let me know if I am correct on this one). And if I have episodes of Golden Girls (put in favorite TV show) to catch up on, then how in the hell am I supposed to find time to watch TV, eat, shit, and workout?
Since I study, eat and breathe all that is steel plates and barbells, you would think I wouldn’t have this problem of finding time to lift. Well, it is true that I am at a gym for a good 9 hours out of my day. But the last thing I want to do is workout after a long day at the place I was just at for the last 9 hours.
It’s not because I don’t like being there, in fact I love my job, have not worked a day yet. So how do I find time, well I don’t find time, I make time. I do this by shear magic and having the ability to make small miracles happen, like creating more time.
Even though the ability to create time would be awesome I unfortunately can’t, sorry for getting your hopes up, but what I can do is make it a priority. That is why it is one of the first things I do before going to work (wait, that does not make sense because I workout at my work, forget it, you know what I mean). If you care about something you love you don’t just find time, you make time.
In this case that something you love is you, If you don’t love you some you then there is something wrong with you.
If your significant other asked to go out to eat do you say, “I’ll find sometime to do it” or do you say, “I’ll make time to do it”. Which one sounds better? It should be a no brainer. Of course it’s the second answer. It’s saying that you care about them and if it’s something you care about, you will put aside everything else just to be with them.
If your health and quality of life is something that you care about, you make time. To get the benefits of an exercise program all you really need is 30 minutes three times a week. A whopping 90 minutes a week. This isn’t to say you will look like a fitness model if you do this but you
will be healthier for it.
We all have 30 minutes in our day to do something that will help out our heath in the long run. If you can’t find time then make time, if that does not work then congratulations you must be the busiest most productive person on the face of this luscious green planet, and I would like to meet you.
Next week I will give you a few different ways that you can get a kick ass workout in less than 30 minutes. In the mean time, make some time in your busy schedules to get out and do something good for you and your health.
Last week I went to a drive in. What’s a drive in? You younger generation people ask. It’s a place where you watch movies from your car and only pay 7.50 for two movies.
Ok, ok so what two awesome movies did I watch? Well Monsters University and Man of Steel of course. Ya, it’s kind of a strange pairing, but remember, $7.50 for two – that’s still a steal.
For the next 500 words I will describe Monsters University in great detail. So it begins with Mike Wazowski, played by Billy Crystal, you will get my thoughts on Crystal’s performances latter so hold your horses, getting off a bus and…. Blah blah blah, don’t care.
The real reason for the post is to talk about Superman. If you have not seen the movie yet, cancel all plans for the day and get on it. The action scenes are a little spastic so if you are prone to epileptic fits, just close your eyes for those scenes.
If you have seen the movie, how jacked is Superman, no homo. After seeing him, the first thing that came to my mind was F being strong, its all hypertrophy and clean eating for this guy for the rest of the summer.
For a solid day or so I was bent on getting cut and throwing all my months of strength training all away because of this movie. Luckily for me one of my colleagues pointed out to me that I am a little ADD when it comes to sticking with my workout goals.
Looking back I can see where he was coming from. Last year I was strength training all winter and then when summer came I decided to see how much weight I could cut. Then I fouled that all up and lost all my strength gains. So now I am back to strength training. I was about to fall back into my vicious cycle if it was not for my friend.
I decided to hold off on the getting super jacked phase of my program for now, well at least until the new Wolverine movie comes out. Dam it I just found out Wolverine 2 comes out at the end of this month.
Never mind there is no hope.
I guess the whole point of this post was to tell you to not park in the back row of a drive in movie, unless you want to.
That doesn’t sound right?
O, no wait,
The point of the post is I found out by watching Man of Steel that I have Training ADD (ask your doctor it’s a real thing… at least it should be).
You have to resist the urge of falling into the trap, which is Training ADD. We can’t get distracted by the newest so called greatest workout routine or exercises. You have to keep on reminding yourself of what you are trying to accomplish. Even if you see a picture of Huge Jackmen with steel claws coming out of his arms, looking like a complete animal, you must resist. I never said it was going to be easy.
I hope the headline of this post is a little offensive to you. If it’s not, then you probably don’t care about being the best at your given job. What this means is you are like most people. So congratulations, you are average. If you are happy being average then don’t waste your time reading any further.
Most people want to be great at what they do, but only a few actually reach the top of their profession. Kids grow up wishing to become famous singers, actors, and sports stars. But few ever make it. Adults leave college hoping to be great teachers, doctors, and in my case strength coaches, but few ever make it to the top.
Why is this? Were they not good enough? Did God deal a small percentage of people a better set of genes, which makes them better then others?
These could all be answers. Truth is they’re all excuses for us to be lazy. Kids stop trying to make it as pro sports players because they find out that it’s hard to make it to the top level; it’s no different in the workforce. People find that to be truly great takes time and hard work.
Instead of answering to the call and stepping their game up, most will take the easy route and just strive to be a little bit above average. Another way to look at it is, we strive to work hard enough so we don’t loose our jobs.
In the book: Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, Author Geoff Colvin looks at several factors that play into how successful an individual is. The success of a person has a lot of variables that leads to individual success. We cannot control all of the variables, but the most important variable we can control.
Here are the 3 variables that play a role in becoming a “world-class performer”.
The first variable does play a role in how successful you will be, but it is not as big a factor as people always make it out to be. You have heard people say, “They are naturally gifted or just naturally smarter”. This could be the case in sports, but not so much when it comes to the workforce.
When it comes to sports, if you’re 5’5’’ your chances of playing in the NBA are going to be a lot smaller then if you are 6’8’’. Same goes if you are a 6’2’’ athlete and want to be a gymnast; just not going to happen.
There is also the factor of how you are built. A large framed person would not make a good marathon runner. Conversely, a thin framed person would not make the best NFL lineman.
Some people may be born with more type II muscle fibers or fast twitch muscle fibers. Type II fibers are what make athletes more explosive. Having more type II then type I fibers results in a stronger faster athlete. The more type I will result in a person having a higher level of endurance.
What I am getting at is, you are born with a specific set of genes. These genes will determine your body size (height and bone structure), and muscle fiber type. These are all factors when it comes to being able to play a certain sport at the highest level. They do not affect you when it comes to your success in life. You determine how good you will be at your given craft. Don’t let the excuses that you were born with the wrong set of genes hold you back.
Deliberate Practice plays the biggest role in whether or not an individual is going to be great or not. In his book, Colvin talks at length about how it is presumed that people become better at their jobs over time, but the reality for most is that you are just as good at your job as the day you started, or in some cases you actually become worse at your job over time.
If doing your job day in and day out is not deliberate practice what is?
Deliberate practice is not easy. Most will never do it for long periods of time. It involves deliberately wanting to get better at your craft. This would be reading books and understanding them, looking over your weaknesses and trying to get better at them.
If you look at most great athletes such as Jerry Rice, arguably the greatest wide receiver in the history of the NFL, you will find that he was not physically gifted with speed or height, but what he did do is spend hours a day studying film. He was also known for having one of the hardest workout regiments in all of football. What this did was allow him to run precession routes and last long into the fourth quarter.
You can look at Tiger Woods who started playing golf at the age of 4 years old, and had a professional golf coach while growing up. No wonder he is arguably the greatest golfer of all time. He had more deliberate practice by the age of 20, 16 years worth, than most would obtain in their entire lives.
If so many greats practice deliberate practice then why don’t most of us do it?
Like I said above, it is hard and time consuming. It has been found that the difference between a great musician and an average musician is only about 2 hours a day of practice. Also great musicians practice more in the morning, whereas the average musicians practice more at night. These two differences end up having huge implications on how successful they end up being.
Another reason is that people are lazy and just don’t have the drive to be great or the will to improve themselves. You have to want to be great. Your parents or friends can push you and keep you accountable, but to truly be great you have to decide for yourself that you want to be. You don’t just fall into it by accident.
Right Place Right Time
Like anything in life there is always some luck. Look at Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. If you were to look at his life it could be summed up as, he was an adopted child, smart with technology, dropped out of college, and dabbled with LSD. This does not sound like he would grow up to be successful and the founder of a revolutionizing company. But Steve grew up at the right time and in the right place. He grew up in Silicon Valley; he was neighbors with the founder of HP. He had access to technology that most kids would never have been able to get a hold of at that time. All these factors led to him being successful.
The thing is, the harder you work the more likely you are to find such luck. Hard work and determination can lead to success.
What It All Means
Most will never be great at anything, always staying somewhere between below average and average. We all have the ability to be great, but not all have the desire and the commitment needed to make it to that level. In your pursuit of greatness you may have to loose friends and go against what is the cultural norm.
For the athlete this is going to be countless hours spent practicing your sport and developing your body. You have to working on your weaknesses and not just what you are good at. It takes a focus and determination that most do not have. If you’re the type of person who watches hours of TV or sits around on Facebook or playing video games all day then you should not expect to be anything more then average at best.
A lot of people are average. Are you ok with being average?
So I don’t know if you have heard but tomorrow is the 4th of July, ya Independence Day. The day were we will celebrate by the only way we as Americans know how to, by eating and drinking ungodly amounts of food and drink, and of course we will also watch things blow up as well, cant wait.
Well sense it is the 4th here are 5 things worth reading plus some pics of animals showing off their American Spirit.
When it comes to developing power, whether it is for sport or for life, there are no better exercises then the Olympic lifts. With the O lifts you are incorporating a whole body movement. All O lifts will start with the legs, transfer up through the core, and finish with the arms. This is the same in sports; power starts at the legs and ends at the fingertips. O lifts do a great job at preparing the body to develop power, because they incorporate the whole body just like sports does.
With all this being said, I personally do not do a whole lot of Olympic lifting with my athletes. This is not because I do not see the value in them. It has more to do with me not being an expert in coaching the lifts. Also, they are very complex and require a lot of mobility throughout all the joints in the body as well as coordination, which most people do not possess.
This is why hang cleans and hang snatching has become big. These still allow for a hip hinge but do not require as much mobility in the ankle and hips as a power cleans does (starting from the ground). These lifts are still complex and still require that you have good thoracic spine mobility and shoulder stability.
In the case that one, a coach does not feel comfortable coaching the Olympic lifts and two, the athlete or client at hand does not have the mobility or coordination to perform such lifts, seems to leave a coach looking to train for power, out of options.
But as you can guess we have options, the title kinda gives it away. One of these options is the medicine ball. Medicine balls are not anything new; they have been around since ancient Greece. Much like the kettle bells they are just a long forgotten way of exercising that now is back in vogue.
Med balls can be used in many different ways. The one I will focus on is developing power. Unlike the Olympic lifts, med balls are easier to coach and require less mobility throughout the joints. This makes them more usable for most athletes and clients. There is also a seemingly endless amount of variations you can do with the med balls. You can throw from the side, the hip, overhead, from the chest, etc. From there, you can even make them more dynamic by adding lower body movements such as a crossover step or jump.
Putting Med Balls in Your Program
Where you place med ball work depends on what you are trying to get out of them. For the most part I will place them as one of my first few exercises if I am using them to develop power. To develop true power you need to take advantage of your muscles glycogen stores when they are at they’re fullest at the beginning of your workout.
Another place I will put them is at the end of my workout. They just seem to fit nicely there. Of course when you put them at the end you will not be developing as much power as you would be if you had put them at the beginning of your workout.
Selecting a Weight
Med balls come in many different weights, from 2 pounds to 200 pounds. Well I don’t know about 200 pounds but there is a large spectrum to choose from.
If you are going for speed and power, then for the love of all things holy, do not pick up a 14 pound med ball!
Power is work divided by time, so if this is the case, time has greater effect on power then work. If I use a 6 pound med ball and move it faster then a 14 pound med ball I am going to produce more power with the smaller weight, the 6 pound med ball.
Light is right, at least until you can move a 14 pound med ball as fast as a 6 pound med ball.
Use More Leg
A lot of times when people start out throwing med balls, they try to generate all the force from their arms.
Instead of trying to push the ball harder, think of trying to generate more power from the legs and hips. This will ultimately lead to throwing the ball harder.
I find it strange that I even have this as a point, but I feel it is necessary. As a guy I love throwing things, breaking things, seeing things explode… its fun, don’t know why but it is. So when I give an athlete a med ball that is designed to be thrown as hard as one can throw it, you would think they would do just that.
More times then not I need to explain that the goal is for you to throw that ball through the wall. Every rep should be thrown as hard as possible.
Next time you pick up a med ball, think of trying to throw it through the wall or floor.
If you do not have the training background to coach Olympic lifts, or you just don’t think that the risk to reward is worth it because of the nature of the lifts or the athlete is just not ready or capable do to movement or coordination problems, then start working in some med ball training. You will find that your athletes will still be able to gain power without the use of Olympic lifts.
I get this question a lot, “How much weight should I start out at for this exercise?” This is not a bad question. It is, in fact, a relatively good one. This shows you have the concern that if you do too much weight you could hurt yourself or if you lift too light you will just be lifting for the hell of it.
The thing is, I don’t have a mathematic equation that allows me to tell you an exact number. Such as: [(height + weight)/training age] x (male/female+ exercise) = suggested weight.
This would be nice, but I do not know of such an equation.
My usual suggestion is to go light and get the movement down and then go from there. This would be for a person that I have not been working with for long. For a client I have been working with, I can usually guess within 10 pounds of the right weight. So I do have some good weight guessing skills.
What I am getting at is, if an exercise is important to you and you want to know if you have increased your strength in that exercise, then you should keep track of it.
With your handy dandy notebook (damn you Blues Clues). A notebook is a great cheap way to keep track of all your lifting numbers. It also is a great place to write how you feel and your thoughts.
And, no I am not talking about you writing how the ocean waves lapping against your feet make you feel on a cool summer’s eve. (Unless you want to, and in that case it feels good)
How you feel as in, did you feel tired coming into the work out, how do you feel after the workout, what were some noticeable weaknesses? Also, were you having trouble finishing lifts or were you getting stuck at the bottom? Did you feel tight or notice a lack of mobility? These are the things you should be writing down. Along with this keep track of your numbers for the day.
I am a little weird in the sense that I keep record of every exercise I have done, and at what weight and reps I was able to lift it, in an excel spreadsheet. You don’t have to go that far, but you should keep track of the lifts that you care about improving on.
With a well kept notebook, you should have all the information you need. Such as: what weight you are lifting, areas you need to work on or weakness, and how you are feeling. This record will help you be able to make your next workout more tailored to your specific needs and weaknesses. It also serves as a good reference to look back on to see if you are actually seeing improvements.
The workout journal can be an important tool to helping you meet your goals. And if you want to, you can also doodle cool pictures of you slaying mythical creatures, just to make you look like more of a badass.