If you’ve been exercising a while now, how do you know if you’re progressing? Are you sure you’re not simply going to the gym and accomplishing nothing more than a a little sweat? You must track your results to be sure you’re on the right path. It’s necessary to keep a consistent exercise log, food diary, and body measurements. If you’re not seeing any progress look back at these three things (or have a professional look at them) and switch things up.
For the sake of this post I’m going to give my 4 tips for accurate body measurements. Regardless of what type of measuring tools you have access to, the same rules apply.
1. BE CONSISTENT!
-Take tests every 4-6 weeks, keep up with your progress. If it slows down make adjustments to your food intake, workout program or both. Maybe you’re not getting results with your current routine, measurements give you this feedback.
-Always use the same tools (scale, body fat caliper, measuring tape) and have the same person measure you each time.
-Relax! Don’t suck in your tummy, don’t flex your biceps.
-Measure same time of day and make note. We’re heavier at the end of the day, our muscles are pumped after a workout. Your best option is probably first thing in the morning if possible.
2. UTILIZE MULTIPLE DEVICES (FOR ACCURACY)
-What I do at my personal training studio in Charlotte NC is take the scale weight, circumference measurements, and body fat of my clients. I will usually use the handheld Omron device for bodyfat. Measurements aren’t perfect, there can be a user error of an inch or two here and there…Using multiple devices helps with the accuracy, in the long term the combined numbers should all go up or down depending upon your goal.
3. TAKE BEFORE/AFTER PICS
-I believe this to be the greatest indicator of progress. As body composition changes, the scale does not always follow. As you’re putting on lean muscle and shedding fat the scale may stay the same or even go up while your body is actually leaning out. I wouldn’t say that is common in my experience but it does happen. Before/After pics don’t hide a thing! Always keep the same settings. Try to take a picture in the same light, in the same room, against the same wall, same clothes, etc…
4. PURCHASE A PAIR OF GOAL PANTS
-I can’t take credit for this. A client of mine actually told me she did this. All my pants are baggy so it really never crossed my mind. She wanted to lose a couple sizes and bought pants that she wanted to fit into. The way your clothes fit is also a very very good indicator of progress. If you can’t fit into a size 10 in January and you can in March then there’s no debate you lost some inches.