Body transformations are high on everyone’s list of priorities…
However, using scales to measure your progress will leave you frustrated. When that number doesn’t change in a few weeks, but you’ve been doing everything ‘right’, what do you do?
Most people will take drastic measures. They’ll either reduce calories, increase training, do a combination of both, or even worse, stop everything. It’s frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. In this article, we outline other things you can do to track your progress so you don’t feel like you want to pack it in.
What is Body Composition Anyway?
What are you made of? We all have bones, muscles, organs, fat and some other bits and pieces. But for the purpose of this article and body transformations in general, we only want to focus on two things. Fat Free Mass (sometimes called Lean Body Mass), this is everything in your body that isn’t fat: Bones, Muscle, Organs, Water etc. And Body Fat!
During a successful body transformation, the goal is to maintain your LBM/FFM, while reducing your body fat. If you do this well, you can ensure maximum loss in Body Fat while losing little to no FFM. A good coach will use every trick in their arsenal to make sure you go through this process without feeling like you’re being starved or killing yourself in the gym.
Far too many people, including some trainers with not enough knowledge, damage the health of clients and themselves on a quest for the perfect body. This usually comes about from too much training, not enough food and too little rest. We don’t want this for you.
How Do You Track Body Composition?
From the outright expensive and nearly unattainable MRI scan, to the somewhat more common and now less expensive DEXA scan, there’s no shortage of ways to accurately track your Body Composition. But most people aren’t able to get expensive scans whenever they want. So what do they do?
A good coach and personal trainer will be pretty handy with a set of callipers. They’re relatively easy to use and just require consistency from the measurer. But this can also be tricky. A good set of callipers can set you back well over £100 ($125) and require someone who’s taken measurements hundreds of times to have any sort of accuracy and even then they’re not perfect.
Which brings us onto body fat scales. These are pretty accurate unto themselves. Meaning if they’re going to be a source of your measurement, make them your only source of measurement. The scales use something called electrical impedance, which measures your Body Composition by sending a small electrical current through the body. While scales can be pretty accurate, they’ll give you a completely different body fat % measurement then callipers will. So best to stick to one or the other.
Surely There’s Another Way?
You can’t get scanned on a weekly basis. You don’t have access to a trainer or coach that callipers in their holster and no fancy scales. What do you do? Simple…
There are 3 things you can start tracking now to know if you’re progressing. Those are:
Weight (on a normal scale, taken on the same scale at the same time on the same day every week)
Tape Measurements (Around the neck, chest, upper abs, belly button, hips, thigh and mid upper arm)
and Photographs (Front on, Side on and From behind, all standing in front of a plain wall. Again at the same time, on the same day, with the same camera every week)
It’s a combination of these 3 used together that will let you know how you’re getting on. For example;
1/ If your weight has stayed the same, but your tape measurements have gone down and you’re looking a little tighter in your pictures, you can assume that your LBM has gone up and you’ve lost body fat.
2/ If your weight has gone down, your tape measurements have gone down and your looking better in your photos, then you’ve not gained any LBM and you have lost body fat.
3/ If your weight has gone up, your tape measurements have gone down around the stomach, hips and thighs, but have stayed the same or gone up on the arms, legs and chest, then you can safely assume you’ve put on muscle mass while losing body fat. Congratulations, you’re winning!
4/ Your weight has gone up, your tape measurements have gone up and your last progress pictures look like the final scenes from the original Ghostbusters movie, something has gone very wrong!