Hand written notes or laptop files?

The pen is mighty indeed. Speaking for myself, writing notes by hand when I am studying for various certifications is much more helpful than typing on a keyboard. The convenience of the computer is hard to beat, but when it comes to recall, I definitely have had better experiences with hand written notes than electronic. I don’t think evidence of this is necessary, you probably already agree with me, but in case you’re the kind of person who likes additional proof, here you go:

In case you’re still not on board, here’s one more:


Okay, now that we’re on the same page, aside from retention, why do I (a strength coach and martial arts instructor) implore you to take notes by hand? Retention, as mentioned above, is a big part of it. But even bigger is: accountability. Accountability is a large and frequently missing link in training. Students often (mistakenly) think they just need to show up to class and the instructor will work his magic and voila! Instant mastery! NOT… The learning process requires the student to be as engaged in learning as the instructor is in teaching and writing notes by hand will facilitate that process. I realize describing martial arts movements can be complex so do your best with that, but jotting down key points on how to dead lift a bar or swing a kettlebell is pretty straight forward. Even if you’re not a natural writer.

But more important than what you write down from your handful of hours of instruction in the gym per week is WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE GYM??? Even if you train 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, that’s a mere 10 hours a week. Adjusting for 8 hours of sleep per night, this still leaves you 112 hours or so to mess up all the good work you did in the gym. How? By eating and drinking poorly. Diet is without a doubt the easiest thing for us to control and the hardest thing for me to get students to commit to doing properly and consistently. Diet is a comfort zone for people, and falling off the wagon is easy to do and hard to recover from. One way to help combat this is to keep a hand written food log. Write down everything you eat AND drink during the course of the day. Everything. Did I say everything? Yes, everything. And at the end of every day look at your log to see if you’re actually following your coach’s guidance or if you’re falling off the wagon.

Keeping and reviewing a hand written food log will go a long way to helping you stay on track with the most powerful part of your training: diet. A good diet will facilitate everything you are trying to accomplish in the gym or on the mats.

Eat right. Write it down. Read it. Repeat.

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