Establishing a baseline of body measurements, which includes body weight, girth measurements, and body composition, is an essential aspect of tracking your health/fitness progress. Seeking out the services of a qualified and certified health/fitness professional to perform a thorough fitness assessment is one of the most effective approaches of establishing a baseline of body measurements. And, continuing to have your health/fitness professional perform these measurements as you progress down your health/fitness path, may help to ensure the accuracy of the measurements.
The health/fitness professional should maintain a log of your continuing progress to make certain that you are headed in the right direction and achieving the health/fitness goals you have set, both long and short-term. However, while you may rely upon that data, you may also keep a separate log of the simple body measurements at home. Following the guidelines featured below may help you to track your progress both in-studio and at home keeping you moving forward in your health/fitness journey. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
• Purchase an app which provides a journal/log and ability to download data from your tracking device or even just a notebook to record your measurements consistently. Make certain to be specific (i.e. when/how/where/what you measured).
• Purchase a good quality digital scale (some may include the body fat measurement analysis which is not essential if your health/fitness professional is accurately measuring your body composition and those products may tend to be less accurate).
• Measuring your body weight once a week is suggested, on the same scale, with the same clothes on or off, the same day of the week at the same time of day (i.e. either prior to or following your workout).
• Keep in mind that body weight is just that, the weight of your entire body which includes your lean and fat mass. When we measure body composition, we break down the body into lean mass (i.e. blood, bone and muscle) and fat mass (i.e. fat). A person may possess optimal body weight for their height, according to height/weight charts and yet be over-fat and conversely, a person may have body weight that exceeds that for their height; however, their body fat percentage may be optimal for their age and sex. So, while we monitor body weight, measuring body composition every four-eight weeks provides a clearer picture of how the body is responding to the individual’s exercise program.
• Purchase a good retractable tape measure. This will enable you to take your girth measurements (i.e. usually the bust/chest, waist/umbilical, hips, thigh and biceps). We usually measure from the right side, although there are clients that have atrophied on that side due to injuries or disabilities which requires us to use the left side. The key is to be consistent. Always take it on the same side, utilizing the same method.
• Take your girth measurements every four weeks or so. When we re-measure body composition, we usually re-take girth measurements as well. And, it is not unusual for the body composition and girth measurements to have positively changed prior to significant weight loss or gain depending upon the client’s goals. This is due usually to an increase in lean mass, which weighs more than fat mass, and consequently, the body is changing in size and composition—a very desirable outcome!