What has always been the number one go-to method of tracking fitness results? It has to be the bathroom scales you jump on every week to tell you your weight, right? What if I told you there are other ways that can be FAR more effective?
Your physical body weight can be a handy tracking tool in some situations, but for the general population, chasing goals such as weight loss or muscle gain – there are other tools that will keep you in the right direction much more efficiently.
Monitoring your body fat
What this does, is measure the percentage of fat your body has, compared to everything else in your body (muscle, bone etc). Monitoring this can be more effective than weight alone, due to the fact that you may be building muscle and losing fat, but no results can be found on the scale, whereas tracking body fat will give you the whole picture. This can be done in multiple ways.
- Body fat callipers: You can either get this done by fitness professional or with some practice you can do it yourself. Simply buy a set of callipers, find the areas to ‘pinch’ either by a chart (usually comes with the callipers) or online, pull the fat away from your body and pinch with the callipers, take the measurements and correlate with the chart to get your body fat percentage.
- Body fat scales: This is a set of scales that send an electric pulse through your body to measure your body fat. Be careful of cheap ones as they can be terribly inaccurate, brands such as ‘inbody’ have been found to be quite accurate – many gyms and locations have these for members to step onto. A quick Google search will often get you where you need to go.
- DEXA Body scan: This is the most accurate method, but is also the most expensive by far. This is done via X-ray imaging and gives you concrete numbers afterwards.
Again this can be easily done by a fitness professional. The areas of your body that are measured are generally arm, chest, stomach, waist, thigh and calf. A measuring tape is placed around these areas and pulled firmly (without squeezing) and the numbers are recorded. Most people have an idea of what they want to look like, but they don’t know what weight they would have to be to have that look. Tracking measurements can be more beneficial for those people as it is easier to note physiological changes.
The jeans test
This is a great test for weight loss. Simply grab a pair of jeans that are tight or will not do up, and every now and then, try them on and see how you compare to the previous time. This has similar befits as taking measurements.
No doubt you have all seen people share ‘before & after’ pictures of themselves or others. This can often put people off taking these as the thought of other people seeing them is terrifying! But I quite often tell people to take them and keep them private, they do not need to be shared with anybody. If you see yourself every day, it can be very hard to see progress, if you look at a photo from before to now it can be much easier.
Monitoring weight difference definitely has its place in the fitness industry, but try the above options and see how you go, you may find the tracking system a lot easier and help keep that motivation stronger for longer.