4 Ways To Take Body Measurements For Fitness To Benchmark Your Progress

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Whether you are trying to build muscle, lose body fat, or you are trying to achieve both by tackling the goal of body recomposition, it is important to be able to measure your progress toward your fitness and physique goals.

For this reason, it is important to know how to take body measurements for weight loss, how to measure your body to assess muscle growth, and how to do other important body measurements for fitness.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of taking body measurements for weight loss and various body measurements for fitness and how to measure your body to assess fat loss and muscle growth.

We will cover the following: 

  • Do I Need to Take Body Measurements for Weight Loss?
  • How Often Should I Take Body Measurements for Weight Loss?
  • What Are the Best Body Measurements for Fitness?
  • How to Take Body Measurements For Fitness

Let’s jump in! 

A person measuring their body fat.

Do I Need to Take Body Measurements for Weight Loss?

Before we delve into different types of body measurements for weight loss and how to take body measurements, it is helpful to discuss why taking body measurements for fitness can be helpful.

If you are not consistently taking body measurements for weight loss throughout your workout program, you cannot be sure that your diet and workouts are indeed helping you lose weight, build muscle, and achieve body recomposition.

If you learn how to take body measurements for weight loss and follow a routine of regularly engaging in at least one weight loss body measurement, you can assess the effectiveness of your diet and fitness program and make any necessary changes based on the changes in your body measurements or lack thereof.

A person taking body measurements for fitness.

How Often Should I Take Body Measurements for Weight Loss?

Common questions that people have are, “How often should I weigh myself or take weight loss measurements or body fat measurements?“

Ultimately, different personal trainers, nutrition coaches, and wellness professionals will suggest different frequencies for taking body measurements for weight loss. However, a good rule of thumb is to measure your body to assess fat loss once a week.

Daily weight loss measurements can be overkill and can lead to stress and obsessiveness.

There’s quite a bit of fluctuation in body water levels based on hydration status, what you ate and the resultant water retention, and your resultant body fat measurements.

On the other hand, taking measurements for weight loss less often than once a week is usually not frequent enough to stay dialed into how effective your program is working.

No matter which weight loss measurements you decide to take, the most important thing is to be as consistent as possible.

A person grabbing the fat on the underneath of their arm.

This means that you should try to measure yourself at the exact same time every single week, after using the bathroom, wearing the same clothes or going without clothes, and using the same body measurement tools.

This will help cut back on variables that can skew your results and introduce inaccuracies.

It is generally best to take any sort of body measurement for weight loss first thing in the morning after using the bathroom.

You should also be consistent in how you take body measurements.

For example, for circumference measurements, make sure that you are taking the measurements in the exact same sites with the same flexible tape measure week to week.

Even if you are not exactly precise with the true protocol for how to take body composition measurements with a tape measure, as long as you yourself are consistent with the way in which you are doing body composition measurements for weight loss, you can still get valuable insight into your own personal progress.

A scale and a tape measure.

What Are the Best Body Measurements for Fitness?

When it comes to weight loss measurements, most people simply step on the scale and track whether they are losing weight from week to week.

Although it can be useful to weigh yourself, your body weight is only part of the picture.

Your body weight doesn’t take into account your body composition or the percentage of body fat versus lean body mass (muscle, bone, etc.) that you have.

Therefore, if you are consistently working out and seeing very little change in the number on the scale, you might become frustrated with a seeming lack of progress.

However, although your total body weight may not be changing appreciably, you might be experiencing body recomposition, which occurs when you lose body fat and gain muscle mass at the same time.

For this reason, many people prefer to use body fat scales.

A body fat scale.

Body fat scales have the potential to provide more accurate body measurements for fitness and weight loss because most people are actually interested in fat loss rather than total weight loss.

A regular bathroom scale measures your overall weight, including your body fat (adipose tissue), as well as your lean body mass, such as your muscles, bones, tendons, organs, blood, connective tissue, nerves, etc.

A body fat scale, in contrast, aims to differentiate between the weight of your body that is composed of adipose or fat tissue from lean body mass.

With that said body fat scales are typically not very accurate.

For example, one study found that body fat scales underestimated absolute fat mass by 4.4 kg (nearly 10 pounds!) and thus underestimated body fat percentage.

How to Take Body Measurements For Fitness

So, if regular bathroom scales and body fat scales are not all that accurate or helpful body measurements for fitness gains and weight loss, what is?

There are a few different options for how to take body measurements for weight loss, muscle building, and body composition changes that could be more helpful than using just a scale.

Here are some of the best options for how to take body measurements for fitness, fat loss, and body composition:

A person taking a selfie at the gym.

#1: Photos

Although not a body measurement per se, another valuable tool to evaluate changes in your body composition and body shape is a basic photograph.

When you take photos for weight loss, take a picture that is from the front, which can be accomplished by standing in front of a mirror and then taking the image, and then also taking a picture of your body from the side.

Fitness challenges like the Hard 75 actually involve taking a photo of your body every single day of the challenge to watch your physique transformation and really get a visual representation of your before-and-after weight loss photos.

Although you can’t take measurements from the photos, you can still get a tangible view of how your body shape is changing over time.

A person taking their skinfolds.

#2: Skinfolds

A more difficult body measurement for fat loss is using skinfold calipers to measure body fat.

This is a device that is used to measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat and skin that you pinch at various sites along your body based on your biological sex and the specific body fat estimation equation that you are using.

Unfortunately, one of the challenges of using skinfold calipers to measure body fat is that the technique requires quite a bit of practice in order to be accurate.

The best bet is to ask a personal trainer at your gym to do the measurements for you.

However, unless you are consistently working with the trainer, you are likely best served by going with a different weight loss body measurement that you can do accurately on your own at home on a weekly basis.

A person taking circumference measurements.

#3: Circumference Measurements

Circumference measurements involve using a flexible measuring tape around specific locations around the body, such as the abdomen, neck, thigh, and upper arm. 

  • Neck: The widest part
  • Shoulders (both arms down at your side, at the widest point from shoulder to shoulder).
  • Chest (lift up your arms, wrap the tape measure around your chest, just above the nipple, and then lower your arms).
  • Right Biceps: Halfway from the elbow to the bony actinium process in the shoulder. Relax your arm and turn your palm facing forward. 
  • Waist: At the belly button to aid consistency
  • Hips: Widest part with butt relaxed.
  • Right Thigh: Halfway from the kneecap to the inguinal fold in the groin.

To estimate body fat from circumference measurements, you can plug your body measurements into equations or calculators.

You can then interpret your body fat percentage values here.

A 3D body scan.

#4: ZOZOFIT

ZOZOFIT is a new body measurement system that uses 3D fit technology to help you monitor your changes in body composition or your body transformation over time.

It removes the need to take circumference measurements because the system scans your body.

For more information about losing weight and changing your body composition, check out our guide to body recomposition here.

A person grabbing the fat on their side.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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