A lot of people want to lose weight or gain muscle, but they don’t make full use of useful tracking tools. Not only do you need to use certain tools in order to monitor your progress, but you need to know how to use them properly. It’s all well and good having the data, but you need to know what data means and what you can do with it.
The most useful tools for tracking your progress in order are:
- Fat mass
First up we have the most well-used, and most valuable tool when tracking your progress. Yet, it’s also important to note that weight can come from anything: fat, bone, muscle, or water. In order to make sure that the change in weight on the scale correlates to the right weight source, then you’ll need to correlate that with one of the other 3 tools.
On its own, there are certain ways you can feel more assured that the weight is coming from the right place, and that starts with being realistic about how much progress you’ll be making.
If you’re looking to build muscle, then aim to add 0.5lbs per week. This may seem small, but people often overestimate how much weight they can gain from pure muscle and therefore, end up overeating and gaining more fat than muscle.
If you’re looking to lose fat, then aim to lose around 1-2lbs per week. This equates to around 4-8lbs per month. Again, this might seem a little small, but anymore and you risk losing valuable muscle. The more fat you’re carrying, then the more fat you’ll be able to lose quickly.
Aim to weigh yourself naked twice per week first thing in the morning before eating and after going to the toilet.
The reason that the majority of us want to lose muscle is to look better and therefore, pictures are an extremely valuable tool for tracking your progress as they give you a realistic idea of how you look and where the weight is coming from/going to. It’s all well and good the scale showing a different number, but it’s much better knowing what that number means in terms of your body composition.
Aim to take progress pictures once per week.
You can track your fat mass through a few different methods. However, the most accessible for the general population will be callipers and body tracking scales. Callipers take more time and need a little practice before you can get a consistent reading, but they’re also much cheaper and more accurate once you get to grips with them. On the other side, you have scales which are very easy to use, but not as accurate or as cheap.
Though, the accuracy of the scales doesn’t actually matter that much. All you need to know is that the trend is heading in the right direction i.e. whether you’re gaining fat or losing fat. The scales will be consistently incorrect, so the actual percentage doesn’t matter as long as you’re also taking pictures. They’re just numbers at the end of the day.
Aim to measure your fat mass once per week.
Lastly, we have BMI which is still a useful tool, but not entirely necessary. BMI combines your health and your weight into one in order to set you into a certain category. These are:
- Healthy weight
If you’re measuring your weight, taking progress pictures, and tracking your fat mass, then checking your BMI isn’t entirely necessary. Though, it can be helpful to know which of these categories you fit into. Because of this, there’s no certain time that you need to check your BMI so just do it as and when you need.
It’s particularly helpful for those who are overweight, obese, or underweight as you can see you
r transition into the healthy category. This is not only useful to know, but also motivational as it’s another set of data you can use to track your progress and see that you’re moving in the right direction. Though, for those who are at a healthy weight, then you don’t need to track your BMI.