When starting a new fitness program and eating right, do you track progress using the scale? Do you look in the mirror and try to figure out if there is any change? Is the program really working? Is there a difference? Hmmm, not sure. It’s hard to tell.
Two of the best ways to gauge your progress is through measurements and progress pictures. Both are easy to do in the privacy of your own home and no one but you needs to ever see them. Or you can post them on the internet to shout from the rooftops that you’re on your way to buff-dom.
The choice is yours. Here are some tips on how to take the best pics and measurements:
- Pick a revealing outfit such as a bathing suit or sports bra and small shorts. Men find the smallest shorts you’ve got and go shirtless.
- Stand against a door or plain wall. You don’t want a busy background to distract you in the pictures. Make sure the lighting is good so you can see details.
- Set your timer or have a friend help you take the pictures. Take a front pose, back pose and side pose. Make sure to stand up straight and stay relaxed. Don’t stick your stomach out but don’t flex it either for the most accurate pictures.
- Save the pictures and don’t forget to date them. Forget about them until you take your next set of progress pictures. I recommend waiting at least 2 weeks but up to 4 before taking them again. Any less and you may get frustrated at the lack of change. Any more and you may not realize how far you’ve come!
- Try to wear the same or similar outfit each time and take the pics in the same place. It’s easier to see differences if the outfit, poses, and placement is almost identical.
Measurement recommendations vary but here are the ones I suggest tracking in centimeters. It’s easiest to use a measuring tape like a MyoTape or an OrbiTape especially if measuring yourself, but any measuring tape works.
- Chest, across the fullest part of your chest. Typically this is right across the nipples for both men and women. Ladies have your sports bra or bathing suit top on for this. Make sure the tape is level and flat all the way around.
- Waist about 2 inches above the belly button with abs flexed
- Waist at belly button with abs flexed
- Waist 2 inches below the belly button with abs flexed
- Right thigh at the largest point
- Left thigh at the largest point
- Hips at the widest point, stand with your feet together
- Right bicep at the largest point, flexed (optional)
- Left bicep at the largest point, flexed (optional)
If you want to measure and track additional areas, feel free. Using centimeters instead of inches will allow you better accuracy and more precise tracking.
- After you take your progress pics and while wearing the same revealing outfit, get a measuring tape (duh!).
- It’s a little easier if you have a friend to help measure. If you’re doing it alone, stand in front of a mirror so you can make sure the tape is flat and level. Pull the tape snug when measuring but not tight.
- Write down the measurements and date them.
- Again wait 2 – 4 weeks to take the measurements again. Try to wear the same outfit for measurements each time. If you wear a push up bra one week and then measure with a compression sports bra, you won’t get an accurate assessment of progress.
I know it’s hard, but ignore the scale as it will fluctuate up and down based on water retention, muscle gain, what you’ve eaten and so much more. Progress pictures, measurements, and how your clothes are fitting are great ways in conjunction with the scale to track how well your program is working.