If you like your scales and don’t have time to calculate body fat, the least you should do is buy a tape measure and keep tabs on your body measurements. This is good practice even if you are calculating body fat percentages. Taking your measurements is an fantastic method of keeping track of your changing body shape as you get fit. When you burn fat and increase muscle mass, there may be times when you weigh a little more despite the fact that your body is getting smaller and tighter.
For a complete picture of your progress when taking body measurements, measure yourself in 10 different places. Otherwise, for a quick approach simply measure chest, waist and hips, including either lower or upper body measurements – depending on your problem area (e.g. thighs, arms).
Before you start measuring, remember to:
- Use a non-stretchable tape
- Make sure the tape measure is level around your body and parallel to the floor
- Keep tape close to your skin without depressing it.
- Bust: Measure all the way around your bust and back on the line of your nipples.
- Chest: Measure directly under your breasts, as high up as possible.
- Waist: Measure at its narrowest point width-wise, usually just above the navel.
- Hips: Measure around the widest part of the hipbones.
- Midway: Measure midway between the widest part of your hips and your waist.
- Thighs: Measure around fullest part of upper leg while standing
- Knees: Measure immediately above the knee.
- Calves: Measure around fullest part.
- Upper arm: Measure above your elbows – around fullest part.
- Forearms: Measure below your elbows – around fullest part.
Re-measure yourself every couple of weeks and record you measurements, so that you can chart your progress. This is a great motivator! It can be discouraging to see your measurements at the start of the program, but once you begin to see results, the feeling of accomplishment is incredible. Even if you have already commenced your program, it is not too late to get measuring (body fat percentage or body measurements), as it is wonderful and rewarding to watch your body continue to change. If you want, plug your vital statistics into the body fat calculator to get an estimate of your body fat percentage.
Women: Hip-To-Waist Ratio
An interesting fact about body measurements is that research has shown that it is not so much a woman’s weight that determines her attractiveness, as it is her waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). It seems that women with a WHR of 0.7 (i.e. a waist circumference that is 70% of the hip circumference) are consistently regarded as more attractive by men – regardless of culture or body type. Diverse beauties such as Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Beyoncé Knowles, Kate Moss, Alessandra Amrosio and Salma Hayek have waist-hip ratios of around 0.7.