For every fitness transformation story, a progression must exist. And to measure progress, the best way to track is with numbers, right?
Numbers can only tell us so much. Let’s take the scale for example. It’s undeniably the most common way to track weight. But tracking a person’s weight is just one aspect of progress. The scale simply does not tell the whole story; there will always be fluctuations depending on factors such as food and water intake.
Another reason why the number on the scale is unreliable is because it doesn’t factor in body fat. Someone in a fat loss program might be disappointed to see they only lost 5 pounds in a month based on the reading on the scale, but what if they actually gained muscle mass while losing fat at the same time?
Speaking of body fat, why not just keep track of that instead? Well, unless you are getting your body fat tested in an expensive manner with a Bod Pod, DEXA scan, or by hydrostatic weighing, all the other ways of measuring body fat are not as accurate. For instance, handheld devices like the Omron or the Tanita scale in your bathroom measure body fat, but unfortunately the numbers can fluctuate based on your hydration level.
Here are the best alternative ways to track your progress without the use of any tools:
You know you’re heading in the right direction when your clothes don’t fit you anymore.
If you find yourself needing to buy new clothes because the ones you own don’t fit you anymore, does it really matter what the scale says? When the number on the scale doesn’t budge for a few weeks but your shirts start to look like they’re size Extra Small on you, there’s no question that you are making progress. It just means that you lost some fat while gaining muscle mass at the same time.
Taking progress pictures allows us to have a visual record of the physical changes that is happening with our bodies. It’s a great way to see the changes in our physique just by comparing the images that occur over time.
Progress photos are easy to take and don’t require much effort. Take one every 2 weeks first thing in the morning before consuming any food or water.
Progress isn’t just about aesthetics. It should also be measured by your performance in the gym.
When I first started out with my own fitness journey, I was the skinny guy who wanted to put on some muscle. Throughout my transformation, I focused on one thing alone: improving my strength gains. While my friends at the gym obsessed over checking their weight on a daily basis, I wasted no time checking mine and only focused on my workouts. Next thing I know, I put on about 50 pounds of muscle all because I focused my attention on improving strength.
Aim to set personal records every single week. For example, if you can only do 20 bodyweight pushups, go for a record of 21 or more on your next workout. In order to progress you must push yourself past your limits.
The best way to track your strength is by keeping a workout log. Whether you use tools like BodySpace, Fitocracy, Cody, FitnessFast, or just using traditional pen and paper, tracking your workouts is the only way to measure your strength over time.
These are the tangible things that you can see and feel on a regular basis, and for a lot of people are much more fulfilling than anything else. You know you are making progress when…
If you experience any of these things, then there is no doubt that you are getting results from your fitness program.
As you can see it’s not all about numbers. It might be nice to see the numbers on the scale go down, but the satisfaction with that only lasts for so long. Strive for something long term that takes very little effort.
Instead of checking the scale every day in the hopes of seeing the number change, let the clothes, progress pictures, strength gains, and lifestyle changes gauge your results.
Written by: Slyvon Blanco, the author of Von Blanco Fitness vonblancofitness.com
where he writes unordinary tips on training and nutrition in order
to live an extraordinary life.