When you strength train and eat properly, your body tends to only shed fat while keeping the muscle you already have. Compare that to crash dieting and the number hours of cardio where your “weight loss” will be greater, but you’ll be losing both muscle and fat (and leave you looking and feeling like a weakling).
By tracking your body composition in more than one way, you’ll have a more accurate view of what’s working and what’s not working with your training. If after a number of weeks you’re not losing the right kind of weight, you’ll know that you need to make some adjustments.
Before we get into metrics, let’s set one ground rule: Don’t track everything on a day-to-day basis. Our bodies are incredibly complex pieces of machinery where all kinds of crazy stuff happen all day and all night.
Our weight can fluctuate by many pounds over the course of a day. Measuring EVERY day can promote an unhealthy OCD behavior where every tiny little change will be scrutinized and blown out of proportion.
So measure yourself once a week at the same time under the same conditions. I advise after you wake up and before you eat breakfast.
Depending on your schedule, I’d either pick Friday or Monday mornings to track all of your measurements – if you tend to let yourself go on the weekends, I’d advise doing your measurements on Friday morning so that you’ll have a whole week to get back on track and see long-term changes.
Here are the best ways to track yourself other than a scale:
1. Take a front and side picture
My favorite method. Stand in front of a mirror in a bathing suit or your underwear with your cell phone camera and take a picture. Then turn to the side and take another picture of your profile view. Just take the picture, hide it in a folder on your computer, and add to it once a week.
It’s tough to notice changes on a day-to-day basis. However, if you have two months of week-to-week photos to look back on, you’ll be able to tell if your body is transforming in the right way.
2. Take body measurements
Go to a craft and buy a cheap tape measure or buy one of these self-help tape measures. Make sure your measurements are taken under the same conditions each time.
Also, make sure you measure the same location each week – kind of weird, I know, but I pick freckles on my arms and legs so I know exactly where to measure each week.
Take a circumference measurement at each of these spots and write it down:
· Neck (for most people, this is the thing that connects your body to your head).
· Shoulders (both arms down at your side, at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder).
· Chest (lift up your arms, wrap the tape measure around your chest, just above the nipple, and then lower your arms).
· Bicep (either left or right, but be consistent).
· Waist (at the belly button for consistency).
· Hips (measure the widest part of your hips).
· Thigh (left or right, but pick the same spot on your thigh each week).
3. Measure your body fat percentage
This one is a little tricky depending on your resources and financial situation. Your best bet would be to purchase a simple body fat caliper if you’re strapped for cash.
Important info about body fat percentage tracking: no test is truly 100% accurate, and the specific number isn’t nearly as important as how it’s changing from month to month.
You can at least make sure you measure it the same way each time to measure if it’s trending in the right direction. For more information please visit: https://www.nerdfitness.com/