I hope you’re feeling great and have been making positive changes to your life daily.
Last time we talked, we had a sit down overview with the way you weigh— how great of a tool the scale “can” be in someone’s fitness journey. But, there are a few other way that you can track your progress while you build a better you.
The one I want to show you is the tape measure.
Tape measurements are a super simple, yet effective tool for seeing if you are moving things in the right direction.
I like using the tape measure because it’s kind of the “proof” of what you’re seeing on the scale. It can show you where you are losing your fat or it can help you tell that you have gained muscle, which is awesome. But be warned: the tape can lie just like the scale.
Had a few too many cookies at that party last night? You’ll be holding more water the next day. That time of the month for you? The flux in hormones can do a number to your tape measurement.
So, mentally prepare yourself for what numbers come out. Take them the same way every time and remember: they are just data points for you to use to your advantage.
Tape measurements are just data. They should not hold any weight to how hard you are working or how good you feel.
When using the tape I like for folks to do it the same way as when we weigh. First thing in the morning after going to the bathroom. Make sure you don’t eat or drink before hand… if you can help that choice.
Now let’s get into the 10 Spot Starting Measurements you will track:
- Above Navel
- At Navel
- Below Navel
Shoulders (take the largest part)
No matter who you are, I would take this measurement. It shows you how much muscle you gained through your shoulders and upper back. It also can show you have many inches you have lost in the largest area of the upper body.
Chest (at nipple line)
This is a great measure as well for both fat loss and muscle gain. It will typically be the spot most men will notice their fat loss occurring first. For women, they may notice these measurements decrease due to less fat on the upper lat (outer portion of your upper back).
As for muscle grow, this will let us know how we are doing both with the pecs and the lat muscles, as both are being measured here.
Above Navel (2 inches above belly button)
Now these are the biggest ones to track if your goal is fat loss. We lose fat from different places from week to week. It’s nice to have track of an area you generally will have your most fat at. So you will measure two inches up from your belly button for this one. And I prefer people to flex ( not suck in) while taking this measurement.
At Navel (right along the belly button)
Here is the second of the three waist measurements you should keep up with. Line the tape measure with the belly button and go around the waist, as straight as possible.
Below Navel (2 inches below belly button)
The third and final of the waist measurements is the two inches below. Measure down two inches, flip the tape measure, and wrap around your waist in a straight line.
Glutes (take the largest part)
This measurement should be done around the largest part of your butt. Great for tracking fat loss in the hips and/or muscle gain in the glutes themselves.
Biceps (both biceps flexed)
Always, always, always flex the bicep! This will be taken with your arm held up in a biceps completely flexed position. And take it around the largest part of the arm.
Quads (both legs– six inches up from knee)
I prefer to take them here for signs of muscle grow, because this low on the leg and there is typically not a bunch of fat to be lost. If you are looking for a fat loss measurement, I would go higher and measure the largest part of the leg. It will give you a better understanding if you are losing fat and it will be a number that moves more than the six inches above the knees one.
Take this one standing with leg straight and flexed if you can.
When to take these measurements?
You definitely want to take the full set of measurements before you start any program, whether it be fat loss or muscle gain.
After that, you would track all of them once a month for muscle gain or general fitness.
For fat loss, you would track all of them once a month, except for the waist measurements. I would do that once a week and keep up with the data points. This will help you get to know your body better and to know what to expect while you’re losing weight.
Keep these numbers on a spreadsheet for easy access.
And remember, this is just another tool in your progress tool belt. Use it to better yourself, not to create false insecurities that just aren’t there.