Measuring the body is a great way to motivate yourself and track your progress as you pursue your personal fitness goals. Despite your progress, you may not look much different in the mirror. Body measurements will tell the real story. Often, muscle replaces unwanted body fat, making scale weight an ineffective means of gauging your progress. Use accurate body measurements to track your progress.
Use a tape measure or Accumeasure Myotape to get a reading for all the major muscle groups and relevant areas for improvement. These may include the calves, thighs, hips, waist, chest, shoulders, arms and/or neck. Have another person help you measure awkward areas, such as your arms.
Measure both sides when measuring arms, legs and calves. Especially for bodybuilders, this is the best means of evaluating symmetry, to ensure that both right and left are the same size. It can also alert you to weaknesses, which you can fix with uni-lateral training. For example, do one-armed dumbbell curls to strengthen an arm weakened by disuse or injury.
Take your measurements before your work out. Many of the muscle groups will measure larger when "warm"--they are engorged with blood from training. The "cold" measurement is more accurate for tracking your real progress, rather than inflating your results with the "pump" achieved during your workout.
Take relaxed measurements. For example, measure the arms at the widest point, about in the middle, without flexing. Much like the "cold" measurement, the relaxed measurement is more accurate. Many bodybuilders make this mistake because it provides exaggerated results. You can also take both flexed, warm measurements and relaxed, cold ones, for the sake of comparison.
Measure with a taut yet comfortable tension in the measuring tape. Avoid stretching the measuring tape, which can negatively impact the accuracy of your measurements. For best results do not pull the tape too tight or loose.
Record your results in a journal and continue to track your progress over the weeks, months and/or years. Bodybuilding.com offers free BodySpace Web pages where you can enter your measurements to generate progress charts (see Resources).
- "Xtreme Lean"; Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman; 2006
- "Combat the Fat"; Jeff Anderson; 2008
- BodyBuilding.com: Body Measurements