Body measurements and how to do it
There are multiple metrics to use when tracking your fitness progress. Everyone uses the scale, which is great, but it doesn’t always tell you the whole story…and sometimes not even half the story! Body fat measurements provide great insight, but you may not always have access to an accurate measurement method. So to get a more complete picture of how your body is changing, or not changing, you can take simple girth measurements. This information can help you see where you’re gaining and/or losing and help you determine nutrition and training protocol.
To do this you will need flexible measuring tape, or something like the MyoTape device from Accufitness. They’re around $6 and are great for measuring yourself. You can find flexible tape measures tapes at tailor shops, clothes shops and sporting goods stores. I highly recommend the MyoTape tape measure. Don’t buy the digital ones. They’re a headache and don’t work very well.
The goal with taking measurements is consistency. You want to measure in the same place every time.
Like with taking skinfold measurements, your goal with body tape measurements is consistency.
- Strip down to your underwear or simply do it naked. We don’t want clothes adding extra inches.
- Measure at the same time of day each time you do it. Morning is best, before you’ve eaten or exercised.
- For each measurement make sure the tape is lying flat against the skin the entire way around the area you’re measuring.
- If you’re using the MyoTape device then rely on the pressure of the tape it has built-in. If you’re using a tape or string, pull snug, but not super tight so that you’re altering the size in any way. Just do it the same way each time. Remember, consistency!
- You should be in a standing relaxed position for every measure. So yes, let your gut hang out and don’t flex! (you can take flexed measurements if you want, just for fun)
- Measurements of limbs should be done on your right side.
Ten Sites To Measure
- Neck – Taken immediately above the Adam’s Apple. Keep your head up and looking straight ahead.
- Shoulder – Standing, can either be measured as a straight line from the largest points on each shoulder across the chest or as a girth measurement all the way around the body.
- Upper Arm – The first time you do this it is best to mark where you measure so you can duplicate it for all future measurements. To measure, keep your arm relaxed and hanging at your side. Measure from your Acromium (boney point of your shoulder, and your Olecranon (boney point of your elbow). Find the midpoint of that measure and write it down for future reference. Measure around that midpoint mark.
- Flexed Arm – Raise your arm to a horizontal position with the elbow at a 45 degree angle. Contract your bicep muscle and measure at the largest part of your arm. Measure the right arm. (you can do both arms if you’re curious about symmetry)
- Chest – Taken at the middle of your sternum, with the tape passing under your arms. Keep arms relaxed at your side. Find the measure after exhaling. Make sure the tape is horizontal around your back.
- Waist – Taken at the narrowest part of your waist. If you can’t tell where that is then take it at the midpoint between the bottom of your rib cage and top of your hip bone.
- Hips – Taken over the largest part of your glutes, where your glutes are sticking out the furthest. Stand relaxed with weight evenly distributed. Don’t squeeze or flex your glutes.
- Upper Thigh – Taken on the right side of your body, standing relaxed with weight evenly distributed
- Mid Thigh – Taken on the right side of your body at the midpoint of your thigh standing relaxed with weight evenly distributed.
- Calf – Seated if you are measuring yourself or standing if you have a partner, measure at its largest girth.
There is a calculation called the Navy Tape Measure Method that can give you a body fat percentage based on 4 of these measurements.
Don’t get obsessed and measure yourself every week. The best interval is monthly. Keep track of your measurements and adjust your programming according to the resul