Track your Progress
HOW TO TAKE YOUR MEASUREMENTS
Keeping track of your progress and monitoring your results is a crucial element in achieving your goals.
If you don’t monitor how you are progressing, how do you know that you are progressing at all and that what you are doing is working.
Not only is measuring your results a great way to monitor your progress, its also one of the best motivators there is. What we see, we believe. And when we believe something, our motivation levels are right up there.
These are the four ways I recommend keeping track of your results.
Taking before, during and after photos is often the most motivating and rewarding way of tracking progress. It is where you will visibly see the difference in your body. As I often say, ‘what we see, we believe.’ Seeing your results allows you to believe in yourself and trust that what you are doing is working.
Keep these tips in mind when taking progress photos;
Ensure you take ‘before’ pics on day 1. Hold a newspaper to show and remind you of the date of that you started.
Set a reminder in your calendar for every four weeks so you don’t forget to update your pics.
Keep your photos consistent. Take them in the same place at the same time of day and in the same clothes.
Do not pose for the photo as it will not give a true representation. Stand the same way in each photo.
Take a full body shot with one front view and one side view and if you can have someone take a back view for you.
As you progress on your fitness journey, your body shape changes. Whilst the traditional way of weighing yourself allows you to see if your weight is going up or down, the scales are not always a true representation of exactly how you are progressing. As you move further along your fitness journey and you are building muscle as well as burning fat the scales begin to show less movement and sometimes your weight will even increase. Taking measurements is a way of tracking progress that the scales and photos often miss. For example if you are weight training, your quads or biceps might increase with muscle definition but your waist will decrease as you burn fat.
Refer to the photo above on what to measure and keep these tips in mind when taking them;
Do not pull the tape measure too tight. It should be held firmly in place flush against the skin.
Measure consistently. Take measurements of the same body parts every time. At minimum, I recommend the thighs, waist, hips, chest and biceps.
The waist is at the height of your belly button. Measure around your stomach using the belly button as your guide.
For your thigh you want to measure the same place every time. To do this, measure the length of your thigh from the hip to the knee, find the middle of your thigh and measure around your leg from this point every time.
For your biceps you want to do the same. Measure the length of your upper arm, from the shoulder to the elbow, find the middle point and measure around your arm from this point every time.
Only take measurements once a month. Any more than that will not show significant results and will only decrease your motivation.
3. Weigh in
Weighing yourself is my least favourite way of tracking results. It does allow for a guidance of how you are progressing but keep in mind the scales can easily fluctuate depending on many factors. Things like, what you have just eaten, water retention, hormones, time of day, muscle building just to name a few, will all contribute to the scales changing at any given time. For example, if you were to weigh yourself when you wake and then again before bed you will see a difference in the scales. This does not mean you have put on, or lost weight in a matter of 10 hours. As you progress in your training you will being to know your body better and will be able to see the changes for yourself, during this time using the scales is a good way to have an overview of how you are progressing. It is important to remember the scales are just a number and not a true representation of your health and fitness levels.
Keep these tips in mind when using the scales to measure progress;
Only weigh yourself once a week.
Weigh in at the same time and on the same day every week. I personally have ‘Weigh in Wednesday’ which makes it easy to remember.
Weigh yourself in the morning before you have eaten anything.
Understand that as you build lean muscle the scales will become less relevant and measuring progress will be more reliant on body shape. If you are wanting to measure body fat percentage and muscle mass get a proper body composition analysis every 3 months. This is the most accurate way of measuring body fat percentage and muscle mass. Your local gym or supplements store should be able to help with this.
When it comes to measurements most people only measure aesthetic results, meaning how they look as they progress on their fitness journey. It is equally important, and at times more motivating, to keep track of your fitness progress. No matter what your goal, whether it be to run a certain distance in a set time, or to be able to do a certain number of push ups or chin ups, it is important and rewarding to measure this progress.
Keep these tips in mind when doing your fitness test;
Be sure to do one at the beginning of your fitness journey to get an understanding of your current fitness levels.
Stick to the basics. Keep the activities in your fitness test simple. Depending on your goals they could be things like the number of pushups or burpees in a minute, or your 1RM (one rep maximum - the maximum amount of weight that can lifted in one repetition) of a squat or bench press or distance ran over time.
Be consistent. Whatever your fitness test consists of to begin with, keep it that way. Complete the exact same test every four weeks and measure your results against the previous months results.
Keep the fitness test activities related to YOUR goals. For example if one of your goals is to get stronger then don’t have a 10km run in your fitness test. Not everyone wants to be able to run 10km, nor does everyone want to be able to do 20 pushups. Keep your goals specific to you and don’t compare yourself to what other people are doing. If it is not a goal you want to achieve, your chances of achieving it are pretty slim. In fact, I often say, you will not achieve something if it is of no interest to you. On the flip side though, it is human nature to compare ourselves to others who are doing something that is of no interest to us. This is a very unfortunate demotivating trait we have. Try to put it rest by focusing solely on you and your own personal goals.
Hopefully these tips help you understand the benefits to tracking your progress and show you different ways to monitor results. Find the way that works for you or do all four of them, just remember whatever you choose, consistency is key.
If you like, you can use my 'Measurements Record' template to easily document your measurements and fitness test results.