Bill Starr says a logbook and a calculator can help you avoid strength plateaus and keep your numbers marching upward.
When my strength gains hit the wall, my first thought was that I was doing too much, so I cut back on the number of exercises I was doing in a workout. That made matters worse, so I reversed the procedure and added in yet more work. That didn’t work either.
I stumbled on the solution accidentally. For a strength athlete to be able to move from beginner to intermediate and from intermediate to advanced, he must utilize the concept of workload; that is, how much total tonnage has been moved in a session and in a week and month. No one taught me this; it just made sense. If I wanted to improve leg strength, I had to work them harder. Same for all the other muscle groups.
When I was at York Barbell, I kept a record of all my workouts and used those to plan my future routines. Yet it wasn’t done systematically. I went by how I felt more than just the raw numbers. Tony Garcy helped me clarify how to use workload. Tony used what was then referred to as “the European method,” which consisted of figuring out to the pound how much weight was moved in a workout. These numbers were then used in conjunction with the heavy, light and medium concept to keep from falling into the trap of chronic overtraining.