So… some thoughts on measuring your fitness progress.
- pros – it’s easy to measure & relatively accurate (if you use the same scale)
- cons- it can fluctuate throughout the day/week, it doesn’t tell you anything about your fitness or usefulness as a human being-people can obsess about their weight in a negative way.
How to use the scale
First – the scale only provides INFORMATION, it tells you nothing about your wellbeing. Second – use one of two methods:
(A) Either weigh yourself daily, or
(B) Every year
Seriously. If you weigh yourself daily, you will see that it’s not uncommon to gain or shed as much as 5 pounds in a day. Water retention, meals, even a big “movement” can make a difference. If you weigh yourself every day, you will see these changes & will see a gradual trend in one of three ways, up, down, or stable. If using this method, you must NOT OBSESS on the numbers, only what they provide with a focus on the bigger picture. Your other option is to weigh yourself just once a year, to see where you are, just so if the doctor asks, you know.
Measurements (sizes) –
- Pros – show change in certain body parts, can get an idea of body composition
- Cons – numbers may stabilize before goals are reached, provides only limited information regarding your usefulness as a human being
How to Use Measurements
1. Get a fabric tape measure.
2. Measure the distance around each of these parts.
- Both Upper Arms (mid bicep)
- Waist (horizontal at naval)
- Hips (at widest point below Waist)
- Both Legs (mid-thigh)
Go to 4hourlife.com for a great tutorial on how to do this.
Take measurements every month or so to note your progress. Once again, this is simply INFORMATION, while it’s good to have goals, having a 20-inch waist probably isn’t a good, or realistic one. This information is useful to judge progress.
The more casual way to do this is to pick an article of clothing (either one that fits now, or one that “used” to fit) and note how big/small it feels as you go along.
- Pros – it can tell you a LOT about how useful you are as a human being
- Cons – it must be tracked, and it may conflict with “other” goals
How to Use Performance
Do a workout, make note of how long it took you (i.e. 50 burpees in 4:28) The next time you do the workout, try to do it either faster, with more weight, or with more range of motion.
You can also try to do more work in the same amount of time. Something like how many push-ups can you do in a minute.
If you’re keeping track of these performance numbers, you should see a trend in a certain direction (i.e. 50 burpees in 4:02, then in 3:47, etc.) It’s also useful to note problem areas/imbalance in your fitness (i.e. really good at push-ups, not at pull-ups).
The good thing is that these numbers can tell you a LOT. Example– If you can squat 300 lbs but the 50 burpees take you 30 minutes, your conditioning is way off, and vice versa (if the burpees are easily done at 3 minutes, but your back squat barely breaks 100lbs). If, however, you can squat 300lbs and do 50 burpees in under 2 minutes, or even better, 100 burpees in under 5 minutes, I can tell you quite a bit about your fitness. You’re an animal. You’re probably at a healthy bodyweight for your body type, and your BMI is right where it should be. Get the idea?
The one thing here to be aware of is that focusing on performance may land you at a weight that’s a little “heavier” than a goal weight may have been at first. I have a client who stopped losing weight a year ago, but has continued to get smaller, and stronger. She’s (luckily) not obsessed about a scale number and instead wants to get both stronger and faster. Most ladies find they look awesome in the mirror, and perform really well, even though they weigh a little more than Elle magazine says they should. It’s a good thing, since Elle isn’t probably the best place to get your fitness advice.
There are a lot of ways to measure progress. Some of it will align with your goals. (I want to fit in my old pants, I want to run a marathon). Hopefully, there is a place where all of these meet and we can find a good balance between all of them.