For me, powerlifting is something that feeds my soul. It's made me stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. It has helped me to appreciate my body more than I ever have in my life, and actually like what I see in the mirror. On the days I'm sad or angry or just feeling weighed down by life, I go to the gym, roll up the garage door, turn on music and start lifting and for the next hour nothing else matters.
But sometimes, I let my ego get in the way. I get caught up with the numbers and frustrated with a lack of progress. Which is why I keep a training journal. I track every single workout I have, the weight I use and the number of sets and reps I perform. And over the past few months being able to look back at where I was this time last year and see the amount of progress I've made has been extremely rewarding. It's a reminder of why I continue to lift day after day and week after week.
Keeping a training journal has helped me in several ways:
1. It's allowed me to see how much progress I have made. When I get frustrated when my workouts aren't going as well as I'd hope for, I can look back and see I am still progressing. No matter how fast or slow, progress is progress. A 5 pound PR is still a PR.
2. Piggy backing off of #1, keeping a training journal helps me celebrate the little accomplishments I make. We get so excited about the big PR's. We get so excited about maxing out our lifts, but if you're training smart, that doesn't happen very often. Celebrating the little training PR's along the way helps to keep you motivated. One of my happiest moments was being able to finally bottom's up press the 12kg kettlebells. And once I could do that, I celebrated being able to press them for 5 unbroken reps. You don't only have to celebrate the PR's that involve big plates on the bar or what others consider to be milestone achievements.
3. It's a nice reminder that things aren't always linear. As everything in life, your training will ebb and flow. You'll have good days and bad days. Good weeks and bad weeks. You'll get injured, or sick and have to take time off. As with anything in life worth achieving, you have to be dedicated. After I competed last summer I took several months off from powerlifting to train for my StrongFirst Kettlebell certification. When I returned to barbell training I felt frustrated. Things felt heavier. I felt like I was starting over (I was also being a bit of a drama queen if we're being honest here). But eight months back into training and I've added 30 pounds to my squat, 10 pounds to my bench and 40 pounds to my deadlift. And yes, during those eight months things weren't always linear.
So I advise you to start keeping a training journal if you aren't already. And start celebrating the little wins along the way. Because it's the little wins that eventually lead to the big wins.