© Instagram – kayla_itsines
“I love weighing myself”, said no woman ever.
Especially when you wake up at 5.50am to fit in HIIT before work or use your lunch break for LISS in the park, and the number on the scales plateaus, or worse in your eyes, creeps up.
First off, you’re not alone. Secondly, it’s time to understand why stepping on the scales every time you go to the toilet isn’t the best workout progress tracker.
A 2017 study by the University of Helsinki shows that constantly weighing yourself can negatively impact young adults.
The research shows that this body analysis behaviour is actually linked to higher weight, larger waist circumference and lower psychological wellbeing.
It can particularly affect psychological wellbeing as, whether you’re leading a healthy lifestyle or not, natural weight fluctuations can affect the number that shows up on the scale.
Fitness is not the only factor that goes towards determining your weight. Eating habits, hydration levels, climate and your toilet routine can also contribute to small fluctuations in weight. Not to mention different levels of hormones in your body that are caused by your monthly cycle.
If you’re consistently completing strength training sessions, also known as resistance training on some plans, it’s likely that you’ll lose fat and build muscle – healthy news if you’re trying to ‘get lean’. This is also why you shouldn’t use weight alone as a way to track your workout progress.
But, why? There is a common myth that a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat – not true, a pound is a pound. However, muscle is denser so takes up less space. This is why you can put on weight but your clothes feel looser.
So, if you’re weighing yourself as a workout progress tracker, it won’t be a true reflection of your fitness gains.
“Since starting this journey, I’ve put on 10kg,” says Kayla Itsines, personal trainer and author of The Bikini Body Motivation & Habits Guide.
“But we don’t need to get on the scale. The only time someone should weigh themselves is if they’ve been to a doctor and been told they are morbidly obese. I’m not talking about BMI obese, I’m talking about weight, for example people who get on the scale and are 250 kilos. People like that should get on the scale and slowly track their fat loss.”
OK, so what is the best workout progress tracker?
“I just feel like progress photos are fantastic if that’s your goal,” says Kayla.
Kayla suggests that you use this workout progess tracker method every fourth Monday as soon as you get up. Try not to track too often – it helps to avoid disappointment with small day-to-day changes (which are perfectly normal).
How to take progress photos
Be sure to measure your progress on the same day each week at the same time and wearing the same clothes. This is the most accurate way of using this workout progress tracker method.
- Take your ‘before’ photos prior to starting your weight loss journey.
- Don’t delete any of the photos that you take.
- Set a reminder in your phone or on your calendar every four weeks to retake your photos.
- Make sure you always take your photos under the same circumstances (for example in your bedroom, using your wardrobe mirror, at 6am).
- Make sure your photos are full length body shots.
- Ensure you have both one front view and one side view. Do feel free to take as many others as you like.
- Keep your feet together and ankles touching.
- Keep your hands slightly away from your body.
- Assume a natural relaxed stance, don’t pose.
- Ensure the camera is away from your face.
- Wear a crop top or bra, underwear or shorts.
- Take the image at the same angle (vertical or horizontal position).
Using a training journal to track workout progress
Kayla recommends keeping a training diary as a second resource for tracking fitness: “Write down how you feel. I get girls to write down on a form how they feel in terms of fatigue, energy, etc. I give them back their form and they’re so surprised. This will be a year later, and they forget that in their first session they couldn’t do a single ab crunch or felt like they were going to throw up. They freak out when they see how cool it is.”
Following a weekly workout planner as a workout progress tracker also ensures that you don’t overtrain. This is important as overtraining can put excess strain on your body and lead to injuries or fatigue, meaning you’ll get less from your workouts.
Want more words of wisdom from Kayla? Read about her workout motivation and what she thinks is the best time to workout.