Ready To Learn How to ACTUALLY Measure Your Gym Progress?
“You can't know where you're going until you know where you've been…”
Many men go to the gym and train mindlessly, simply going through the motions of lifting while failing to pay attention to detail, it comes to me as no surprise that these are the same men that often fail to see progress, get discouraged and quit.
Measuring progress isn’t only relevant to your physique, but also your business revenue and many other aspects of life that you wish to excel in. if you’re not measuring and recording you’re merely going through the motions blindly and you obviously have minimal care for the outcome.
If you want to be a winner and want to transform your physique, ensure you’re on the right track and stay motivated while doing so it is paramount that you record your gym progress in predetermined intervals (e.g fortnightly or monthly).
Learn How To Measure Gym Progress Correctly!
Below are the methods I find most affective for measuring gym progress (no, the scale is not the be all end all, but more on that in a moment…)
Buy a preformatted gym notebook like Mike Matthews ‘Year One Challenge or use a journal or mobile app to enter each exercise, set and repetition you performed on each and every workout. Keeping a log of your training not only ensures that instead of wondering the gym like a lost sheep you’re a lion and you know exactly what you’re doing – you know how many reps you hit on your incline dumbbell press last week and you know you need to add an additional rep to that set this week in order to progressively overload your muscles into both strength and size gains.
If you begin to struggle later down the line you can refer back to your training log and identify sticking points, lifts you exceled on and find ways to overcome your plateaus.
“Appearance is a consequence of fitness”
As you continue to apply progressive overload and remain consistent with your workouts your body will begin to forge itself out of steel.
Your log book can also be used for the purpose of recording your meals, I recommend calculating your calories as per my guide here and then ticking off in your journal as you hit your calorie and macronutrient goals for the day – if you fall short or overeat you’re accountable to your log so it must be recorded.
Disregard The Scales & BMI
Before I delve into the methods I use and recommend to track fat loss and muscle gain I find it imperative to discuss the use of the traditional scale.
Weight on the scales, just like the popular BMI method of measuring whether you’re the correct weight and what not is flawed. Muscle mass, fluid retention, time of day, hormones and a number of other factors can adversely affect the number being displayed to you when you step on the scales.
For example, I’ve been hovering around the 185lb mark, I remember being 185lbs a couple of years ago too… does this mean I haven’t bulked or made any progress at all since then? Have I hit an unbreakable plateau?
Of course not…
My body fat has decreased, my fluid retention has decreased and my lean muscle mass has increased… resulting in my total mass clocking in at 185lbs (not to be confused with lean muscle mass which is my total body weight minus my body fat percentage… but we’ll get into that later).
According to BMI body composition is irrelevant, two men both 230lbs at 5ft 11” would be deemed overweight as lean muscle mass and body fat are irrelevant in this method of measurement (deeming it completely useless for any accuracy in measurements).
There are far more accurate methods to measure your progress.
Take Photos & Use the Mirror
You see yourself on a daily basis so progress may seem slow or non-existent, this is where taking regular photos comes into play – the mirror doesn’t lie.
Choose a location, time of day and pose and snap the same photo(s) on a weekly or fortnightly basis. When I’m following my cutting diet I record a video and take several still shots each week which I find is the most accurate way to gauge progress and see how I’m progressing, if I’m holding additional fat on any body parts, if I’m losing much muscle mass during my cutting phase (in which case I am able to identify that my calorie deficit might be slightly too large).
Store these photos in a ‘Progress’ folder on your computer and update them weekly, as you begin to look through and compare your previous weeks’ progress to current you’ll more often than not be surprised at just how much your body is changing (without you realizing it).
Grab a tape measure and take note of your body measurements weekly, I recommend performing these upon waking as measuring your arms etc. post workout can be inaccurate (as you’ll have a ‘pump’ meaning they’ll appear larger and fuller than usual due to blood flow.
The key to taking successful measurements is to ensure you are measuring in the exact same position every time, using freckles or placing a mark on your skin is the easiest way to maintain a consistent reference point for measuring.
When measuring record the following measurements in your training log or in an excel spreadsheet in centimetres:
Shoulder to shoulder (with your arms down by your side)
Chest (around nipple level, raise your arms to place the tape measure around your chest and then lower arms before reading measurement)
Biceps (measure from the peak of the bicep to the thickest portion of the triceps).
Waist (around your belly button).
Hips (widest part).
Quads (Choose one spot on your quads and measure this each time).
Get A Caliper
There are many methods for measuring body fat, some extremely accurate while others are completely inaccurate. The most cost effective and accurate method in my books is the old caliper test. You can pick up a body fat caliper for $10~ online. Your body fat caliper will come with instructions and a chart to accurately measure your body fat percentage.
Your measurements, photos, training land nutrition log should be updated consistently, don’t slack off and go through the transformation blindly – have reference points of where you’ve become so you can sculpt where you’re going.