How and where to take measurements is important if you’re trying to change your body composition – whether through weight loss and/or muscle gain. I have known for a little while now that the progress you are making is not always visible on a scale that you stand on. I still struggle with accepting that which is why I actually ended up throwing my scale away recently. If it’s not here I can’t use it and it can’t make me upset. If it’s not here, I’m happier.
Scales can be very helpful if you’re just starting and have a lot of weight to lose. Once you start getting closer to your goal it tends to become more difficult to lose the last few pounds so you typically won’t see as much movement on the scale as you did in the beginning. The pounds may come off more slowly leaving you discouraged when in reality your body composition could be changing without you even realizing it.
For this reason, I wanted to write about taking measurements instead and also the most important places to be taking them. Measurements tell the real story. Scales really don’t. You could have two people that both weigh 145 pounds and they could have very different body compositions.
How to Take Measurements for Fitness
1. Wear tight-fitting clothing that won’t affect your results. Examples include a sports bra and spandex shorts or leggings, sports bra and underwear or a bikini swimsuit. If you’ll be sharing your pictures online (an example would be sharing with Beachbody to get your free t-shirt after completing a program) be sure to take that into consideration.
2. Stand up straight and do not suck in your stomach. Just relax.
3. Use a flexible measuring tape. They are very inexpensive and most are made of vinyl like the one shown below.
4. Have another person take your measurements if possible. You can do it yourself but it can be easier and more accurate with a helper.
Where to Take Measurements
You can take measurements anywhere you choose. The more measurements you take, the better idea you’ll have about the progress you’re making.
1. Waist. Measure at the smallest part – usually a couple of inches above your belly button.
2. Hips. To measure your hips, measure around the fullest part of your butt (the widest point of your hipbones).
3. Chest. Measure just under your bust.
4. Thighs. Measure around mid-thigh on each leg one at a time. You can also measure them with your legs together but I’d definitely measure them each separately for sure.
5. Arms. Measure around the bicep. You can do this both relaxed and while your bicep is flexed, whichever way you prefer.
6. Calves. Measure around the largest part of your calf.
7. Bust. Place the tape across your nipples and measure around your chest.
Tips to Remember
You don’t have to measure every single one of these areas. At minimum, I would be sure to measure chest, waist and hips. A lot of change occurs in those areas and pretty quickly too! You’ll notice changes in other places too but you’ll probably see major changes in those areas first.
Be careful to ALWAYS measure at the exact same spot every time for accurate tracking. Use things like freckles, birthmarks or scars (if you have any) for help as needed – such as with the mid-thigh area. It’s also a good idea to measure at the same time of day.
I would suggest keeping a journal and/or folder to record and store your measurements regularly. This way you’re able to look back at where you started and see how far you’ve come! It can be a great motivation if you become frustrated and we all know that happens because the inches never seem to fall off as fast as we’d like them to!
Take Progress Pictures
One last tip I have for you is to take progress pictures each time you take your measurements. If the inches aren’t coming off as fast as you’d like but your body composition is changing, you’ll be able to see the changes in your photos. I personally hate taking them but every time I can feel my body changing, I wish I had! So I do try to take them more often.
The major point I wanted to get across is that it’s important to not only measure your progress with the number on a scale. Measuring inches and taking pictures can really tell the story.
You got this!