The scale can be a helpful tool in measuring progress, however it’s a much smaller piece of the puzzle than you may think. In general, people pay way too much attention to it’s reading and not nearly enough attention to the measurements that are better indicators of substantial improvements in body composition.
Weight can fluctuate drastically hour to hour, day to day, often being a better reflection of hydration, salt, carb intake, digestion or your upcoming period and a misleading representation of progress.
The amount of muscle mass you have can considerably affect body weight as well. With more lean body mass, you could drastically alter your appearance and improve body composition and health without changing much on the scale or even weighing more.
It’s also very possible to lose scale weight, mostly from muscle and a little bit of fat (typically a result of cutting calories too drastically and insufficient protein or strength training) hit your “goal weight” and still be unhappy with a smaller, yet softer and flabbier body.
Why not just weigh yourself?
Here’s a hypothetical example of how you could transform your body without much change to the scale.
This woman—let’s call her Jen—is 132 pounds @ 30% body fat. This means she has 92.4 pounds of lean body mass. She’s also new to consistent strength training.
Over the course of 8-10 months, Jen works her way up to deadlifting her own body weight, is hip thrusting almost double body weight and can now do a full chin-up.
This significant increase in strength also causes an increase in lean body mass. 7.9 pounds of muscle to be exact.
Jen is now 24% body fat with 100.3 pounds of lean body mass. Her waist and “problem areas” have shrunk and she has added a noticeable amount of firm shape to her body.
She still weighs the same 132 pounds. And guess what? She looks and feels better than ever.
If she had only been measuring her progress using the scale, she would be pretty discouraged thinking she didn’t make any progress.
However, since she was taking bi-weekly progress pictures, body circumference measurements and tracking her strength gains alongside taking averages of scale weight, she could SEE her progress and started to care less and less about the scale.
And Here Is How To Do Just That:
Progress pictures are best taken from the front, side and back once every two weeks in the same clothes with the same lighting at the same time.
Body circumference measurements
Body circumference measurements are best taken every two weeks with a tape measure at the largest part of the chest, the largest part of the arm, the smallest part of the waist about 2 inches above the belly button, the largest part of the hips/buttocks, the largest part of the thigh and the largest part of the calf.
Strength in the gym
This will help to build or at least preserve (depending on the specifics of your goals and program) lean muscle mass to ensure that you’re losing fat, not muscle. Keep a journal of your workouts and track the weight, sets and reps you do each week.
…and then scale weight
Scale weight is most accurately measured by being taken daily at the same time on an empty stomach. At the end of each week, take a weekly average of your scale weight.
With that said, it’s far more important that you see changes in your progress pictures and body circumference measurements than changes on the scale.
The scale can fluctuate drastically hour to hour, day to day, often being a better reflection of hydration, salt, carb intake or your upcoming period and a misleading representation of progress or lack thereof.
You could potentially transform your body without substantial changes to the scale.
At the end of the day, if you’re getting stronger in the gym and your waist measurement is going down, you’re likely on the right track.
great article, but I need more help!
See if the Take Control Method is right for you HERE.