Using Comprehensive Bodyweight Data to Track Progress
Most athletes who are trying to gain or lose body mass measure progress on a scale, but the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story. Keep reading if that scale isn’t moving – you may be missing your progress if you aren’t collecting the right kind of data!
What Does a Scale Tell Us?
The number on a scale only tells you one thing – total body mass. That’s it! The scale does not measure body composition (fat mass vs. lean body mass). The number on the scale can vary day by day depending on what you eat, if you’re sore, or time of day you are weighing in. Total body mass is great for a single data point when tracking progress, but it should not be the only data point used.
With that being said, the scale should not be discounted completely. Total body mass is still a useful data point, when used accurately. Follow these important dos and don’ts to make sure you are using the scale effectively:
- Weigh each morning at the same time
- Take a weekly average of those weights
- Wear minimal clothing
- Ditch it if necessary! If the scale is determining your self-worth or impacting your progress negatively – ditch it!
- Weigh at different times of the day
- Only consider a one-day weight
- Use as the sole data tool
Other Data You Should be Collecting
When you are tracking weight loss or muscle gain, in addition to the scale dos and don’ts above, there are other “data” you need to collect. You should be collecting:
- Take progress pictures of your front, side, and back: Visualize your weight loss over time.
Take measurements every two weeks following these guidelines:
- Bust - Measure around the chest right at the nipple line, but don't pull the tape too tight.
- Chest - Measure just under your bust.
- Waist - Measure a half-inch above your belly button or at the smallest part of your waist.
- Hips - Place the tape measure around the biggest part of your hips.
- Thighs - Measure around the biggest part of each thigh.
- Calves - Measure around the largest part of each calf.
- Upper arm - Measure around the largest part of each arm above the elbow.
- Forearm – Measure around the largest part of the arm below the elbow.
- Mentally note how your clothes are fitting: Have a pair of jeans you are trying to fit into? Try them on each week and see how they change!
- Track your workouts: Do the same workout every few months – watch how your workouts changes and notice how you feel as you progress.
When trying to track body weight loss or body weight gain it’s important to focus on more than just the scale. Make sure you are taking comprehensive inventory of all your changes and use tools accurately.