It’s almost Fitness Law that if you set a goal or even just set out to get healthier, you MUST have a bank of measurements or tests to ensure you are making progress.

“If you’re not testing your guessing” is a classic line thrown around.

This is partly true because you can’t judge your progress on the amount you sweat or how sore your muscles are the next day.

“If it’s hurting, it’s working” is utter bullshit.

I can make sure your legs are unable to function tomorrow but does that mean you are closer to your body fat target or improving your vertical jump to improve your performance on the sports field?

No, of course it doesn’t.

Hard work and smart work can be two very different things in a given situation!

Another problem arises when you are measuring but you are not consistent with your training and/or nutrition.

It’s January and as expected everyone is trying to lose weight.

Good for them.

However, if you’re one of them and you aren’t working consistently from a plan, there is little point measuring numbers like weight and body fat.

The whole point of measurements (outside competition) is not for the measurements themselves but to show what has worked and what hasn’t so we can alter the plan and go again.

If I dropped my calories by 200 calories per day this week and I sparked fat loss where I had stalled before, I know that my actions worked only if everything else remained constant from the week before.

Conversely, if I am trying to gain strength and size but my lift numbers in the gym have stalled and I haven’t gained weight after the program has been working well, it’s a good sign that I need to increase my calorie intake or change the program.

If I was improving my running until now but I added an extra lifting session this week and my running performance suffered, I know that I have probably gone over a productive amount of weight training.

However, if I randomly kinda workout and ‘sort of’ improve my diet and I lose weight one week but don’t the next, how do I know what’s working and what’s not?

If I weigh myself on Monday morning and I’m the same weight as last week what is my next move if my diet, sleep and exercise has been changing on a chaotic, random basis?

If you have been consistent with training and nutrition week on week, you can make adjustments with much more clarity and as a result make much more impressive and faster progress.

However, if you decided to have a big pizza and drank more fluids last night, there is a good chance that you will be weighing more this morning because water bonds to sugars in the body increasing your scale weight.

Have you got put on 3lbs of fat, indicating that the program and nutrition isn’t working?

No, of course not.

The danger is that you will feel deflated and assume you are failing, at which point all manner of things can happen from quitting on the plan to trying to add more exercise in order to burn more fat.

This can also work the other way.

If you jump on the scales on Saturday night after a day of eating and drinking and see 61kg, go for an ‘off plan’ run on Sunday then see 59kg on Monday, have you lost 2kg of fat and can confirm running is the solution?

No, of course not. 

Your responses to your ‘results’ are totally misdirected.

There is little point consistently measuring anything until you are consistently applying a plan.

Before you get obsessed with scales or body fat measurements, measure your application of action steps consistently.

If you can tick off the following every week for four weeks, you will move MUCH closer to your fat loss goals than if you are sort of dieting and getting to the gym more but jumping on the scales religiously every day.

  • Did I get to the gym four times as my coach planned and do the full session?
  • Did I drink 2 litres of water every day?
  • Did I eat protein at every meal?
  • Did I eat more than five portions of vegetables?
  • Did I get close to my target calorie intake to create a deficit?
  • Did I avoid added sugar and alcohol every day?
  • Did I get to bed before 10.30 on at least 6 days per week?

We could change or add more to the list depending on your goals but the point is that when you know your goal, you have created a plan and you measure consistency and habit formation over numbers, you will make better progress than making stuff up but jumping on the scales every day in hope.

You’ll get excited at a big drop (due to water loss) and you’ll get depressed by a lack of movement just because you drank more water, had your high carb day or it’s your period leading to more water retention.

Measure consistency before your consistently measure.