As a personal trainer, clients often ask me where they should measure if they are going to start periodically measuring their body size and shape to track their progress.
I’m not strictly opposed to taking measurements, I think it’s probably going to give you a better idea than the number on the scales ever will but please remember that as with all other forms of tracking your progress, the measurements are just one piece of the puzzle.
It’s not all about your body shape. There is so much more to your fitness journey than that. In doing your measurements, you should also sit down and consider other forms of progress you may have made. Perhaps you managed to walk further in your thirty minutes than ever before, perhaps you managed to carry on a conversation with someone as you walked up a flight of stairs, maybe you could just run around after the kids without feeling like you were going to die. Perhaps you managed to reduce to amount of non-hungry eating you do this month. All these things are freaking awesome and should absolutely be considered markers of progress on your journey.
Success is steady progress toward one’s personal goals – Jim Rohn
Now, if you have someone you’re comfortable with willing to take your measurements for you, I would recommend it, it can be kinda hard to measure yourself. It’s important to try to be as consistent as possible to make the results more accurate.
If you opt to be fully clothed for measurements, try to wear the same (or very similar clothes). Biggest tip is probably that the bra you are wearing can make a massive different to the final results. Try to wear the same one each time. The alternative is to opt to do the measurements yourself with no clothes on. Whatever you go with, ensure you feel comfortable doing it.
Where Should I Measure?
- Arm: Around the middle of your bicep is normally a good spot. Either hold your arm out straight to the side of your body or hold by your side. Record the way you measure so you can do it the same way next time.
- Chest/Bust: Across the nipple line. A mirror will help you determine if the measuring tape is straight.
- Waist: The waist is the natural narrowest point of your torso. To be most consistent, measure the distance between this narrowest point and your belly button and record that as well to help you know where to measure next time.
- Navel: The navel is your belly button. Depending on the size of your tummy, this may be close to your waistline or it may be quire a bit lower – wherever it is, measure around your body at that point.
- Hips: Normally measured at the widest point. Try to keep a note as to where you feel this is in relationship to so other part of your body to help you remember for next time.
- Thigh: Often a good way to do this is to use your fingertips as a guide. Place your arm by your side and measure around your thigh at the point where your thumb is. If your arms are on the short side (like mine!), use your first or middle finger. Record which finger you used so you can remeasure the same spot.
- Calf: I generally use the widest spot to measure. I often just go off a visual for this but you can measure how far from your knee this is if you like for consistency.
Try not to measure too frequently. Give yourself a chance to make some real progress – at least a month is a good general rule. You don’t necessarily have to do all measurement sites, either. Or even both sides of your body. Just do the ones you feel most comfortable with and those that you will give you the feedback you need about your changing shape. Just remember that the measurements really are just one piece of the puzzle.
Oh, and one last thing – the tape measures readily available in the supermarkets are typically 150cm in length. This isn’t always long enough for bigger tummies and hips. You can fairly easily obtain a 300cm one through eBay or places like Spotlight.
If you’ve got any questions about where you should measure or how you should measure, pop on over to our Facebook page for a chat.