If you’re exercising in the gym while working towards a weight loss goal, it’s always a good idea to take your body measurements during the process. Other progress tracking methods like tracking your weight with a scale, or measuring your BMI at the doctor are useful, but they don’t tell you how your weight is distributed.
Gaining muscle will put weight in more “favorable” places like your shoulders, arms legs and butt. Losing weight will take it away from less favorable places like your stomach. In this guide you’ll learn how to take weight loss measurements by yourself. This way, you can measure not just how much weight you’re losing, but also where it’s coming from.
Table Of Contents
- Most Common Places To Measure Your Body
- Why You Should Take Body Measurements For Weight Loss For Yourself
- What Is The Best Tape Measure For Weight Loss
- How To Take Your Body Measurements With Your Myotape
- How Often Should You Take Weight Loss Measurements
- How And Where To Track Your Body Measurements
- Common Questions Answered
Why You Should Take Body Measurements For Weight Loss For Yourself
If you’re working with a healthcare professional to help you lose weight, it’s likely they’ll be taking your weight loss measurements for you. Personal trainers, dietitians, nutritionists and various health coaches all offer this as a service. Some might not, but most do. If you’re not working with a professional, it’s also common that people have a friend help them.
When it comes to measuring your body, the goal is to have as little inconsistencies between measurements as possible. Each person you work with will measure you a little differently. This is because every organization teaches the measurement process differently. Each tape measure will give you slightly different numbers, too. For example, thin metallic tape measures will give you slightly smaller numbers than wider cloth tape measures. This is because the thin metal tape measures can be pulled tighter before they feel “snug”. You’ll also find that different outfits will influence your measurements. Think of a sweatshirt compared to a tank top.
The best way to take your weight loss measurements is to do them by yourself, naked, in the comfort of your own home. This way, you can minimize various inconsistencies. All you need is a good tape measure and you’re ready to record your first measurement.
What Is The Best Tape Measure For Weight Loss
The best tape measure for weight loss is the one you can use by yourself to measure various parts of your body. In all of the years I’ve been a personal trainer, my favorite tape measure is the myotape (You can get yours here on amazon). It’s extremely simple to use, and makes it very easy to measure your arms, which you can only do with one hand.
The myotape has a wide, flat tape measure rolled up inside, that retracts with the push of a button. On the end of the tape measure is a peg that slides into a hole in the body of the myotape. You basically loop it around your body, press the button the pull the tape measure “snug”, and then write down your measurement.
Note: You’ll notice your myotape doesn’t start on zero, it starts on 1.75 inches. This is because the body of the myotape is was considered when the tape measure part was printed. This is nothing to worry about, and your measurements will come out accurate. Either way, the whole point of this is to show change in inches. As long as you keep using the myotape, you won’t have any problems.
How To Take Your Body Measurements With Your Myotape
As I mentioned above, I recommend using a myotape to take your body measurements. The instructions below will teach you, step-by-step, how to use your myotape.
How Often Should You Take Weight Loss Measurements
As a general rule of thumb, I recommend tracking weight loss measurements every two months. This way, there’s time for enough weight loss to occur to rule out “measurement inconsistencies” when measurements go down.
You should be using other forms of progress tracking as well, such as progress pictures and tracking your weight on the scale. If you’re using these methods, in conjunction with measurements, you won’t need to use your myotape to track weight loss measurements every single month.
However, if you feel like you need to measure yourself more frequently to hold yourself accountable, aim for monthly measurements. Anything less than a month is way too soon to see change.
The more time you let pass in the interim, the more reliable your measurements will be. This is because measurement inconsistencies are less influential if there’s a greater change in inches.
For example, think of a 5 inch difference in your waist, compared to .5 inch difference.
It’s entirely possible that you could have, without realizing, pulled more snug to come up with a loss of .5 inches on your waist. Here, it’s hard to tell if your waist actually got any smaller.
If you pulled your tape measure tighter, by accident, and measured 5 inches, it’s still very clear that you lost body fat around your waist.
As long as your weight is going down, your “trouble spots” should also be getting smaller.
In some cases, weight can stay the same, but measurements can go down. This is because you’re adding muscle to “more favorable” areas, and losing fat from “less favorable” areas.
Related: Which Weighs More: Fat Vs Muscle?
The whole point of taking weight loss measurements is to track change. This way, if nothing’s changing, you can troubleshoot and determine “why”. Once you find out what’s holding you back, you can change that behavior and see progress with your weight loss.
How And Where To Track Your Body Measurements
There are a variety of places you can track your body measurements to help you be successful. At the end of the day, use whichever method works best for you.
Body Measurement Chart
Pen and paper is always a great way to record your progress. It’s simple and efficient. For clients of mine who prefer paper, I recommend they put a chart on their refrigerator. This way, the chart is in plain view, and it’s a constant reminder of their fitness goals.
A blank spreadsheet works, but I’ve created this body measurement tracking chart instead. It has instructions on it, and a link back to this guide if you forget how to measure a part of your body.
Body Measurement Tracking Apps
If you prefer digital as opposed to paper, there are dozens of apps available for both apple and android. Just search “body measurement tracker”, and you’ll have tons of options. I recommend choosing one that reminds you every month or so to check your measurements.
Online Fitness Coaching
For all of my personal training and online fitness coaching clients, we use an app called Trainerize. Trainerize is a tool built for personal trainers to help manage their clients. It’s constantly being updated, and by far the best app I’ve ever used.
Each month, I put a reminder for my clients to track their weight and body measurements. This helps keep them accountable, and helps us troubleshoot if they aren’t seeing results.
Trainerize also creates graphs that my clients can use to see their progress over time.
Common Questions Answered
Is There A Difference Between Measuring Females And Males?
No, there is no difference between taking weight loss measurements for females vs males. The positions are exactly the same.
However, if you’re a personal trainer, just make sure your clients are comfortable with you measuring them. Specifically around the chest and glutes.
What Are The Ideal Measurements For Women? For Men?
There are no ideal measurements for women or men. Everyone’s bones, muscles and fat deposits are shaped differently. Because of this, it’s hard to say what is “ideal”.
The best thing to do is take your measurements, and set a goal based on where you would like to be. For example, if you want a bigger butt, set a goal to increase it and then track it every two months. Want a smaller waist? Measure that, and set a goal to decrease it.
Are Measurements For Bodybuilding Different?
No, measurements for bodybuilding can follow the exact same protocol outlined in this guide. The purpose of measuring your body is to track progress. As long as you measure yourself the same way each time you take a measurement, you’ll be able to accurately measure change in muscle growth.
Some guides on the internet will recommend you measure your body in flexed positions. You can do this, too, if you want. Again, the importance is to create a standard protocol, and measure yourself the same way each time.
Building muscle is typically a much slower process than burning fat, so you won’t need to measure as often if your goal is to build muscle.