To track your fitness progress, a body measurement chart is the best tool.
In this article, you’ll learn how to use the Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF for fitness and weight loss, and the benefits of doing so.
As engineers, we always say, “What gets measured gets improved.” This is hands-down the most simple and effective way to track your transformation.
fitness tracking body measurement chart
Using a body measurement tracking chart can be strong motivation during a fitness program. Additionally, it provides a wake-up call to make an adjustment if it indicates that you’re not progressing.
We’re all busy, so why waste time on a program that’s not helping you meet your goals?
The goal of using this fitness body measurement chart is to learn if your workouts are actually working. While this tool is an important way to track fitness progress, it’s not the only tool.
Therefore, we highlight other data-driven and effective ways to track your fitness transformation, such as before and after photos and using a body fat caliper.
Why You Should use a body measurement chart
It’s hands-down the best way to measure before and after results from a workout or weight loss program. When you track where you are losing or gaining inches, you can determine if you’re making progress, plateauing, or going in the wrong direction.
For example, in the past, using a body measurement chart for weight loss and fitness has taught us the following:
Making Progress and Gains
If you’re gaining muscle mass and inches in your arms and legs while losing body fat and inches in your waists, the program is working and in alignment with your goals.
If two months into a program, you stopped gaining inches around your arms, legs, and hips, you’ve plateaued. It’s time to reevaluate and course-correct.
This could mean adding heavier dumbbells to your home gym or increasing calorie consumption.
Wrong Direction, Losing Muscle
Losing inches around your waist but simultaneously losing inches around our arms and legs tells you that you’re losing muscle.
Once again, the body measurement tracker is a wake-up call. To maintain muscle mass, try reducing cardio and incorporating more strength training.
Also re-check your calories to make sure you’re properly fueling your body. More on that later.
Why body measurements are better than the scale
When you start following a structured fitness program, you typically lose body fat and replace it with lean muscle mass.
Body measurements are superior to the scale for the following two reasons.
1. Measurements Tell a More Accurate Story
When you start a fitness program, a common scenario is losing five pounds of fat and gaining five pounds of muscle in the first month.
If you’re only using a scale to measure your progress, you won’t see any change at all. That’s disheartening.
Even if the number on the scale changed, it’s extremely difficult to tell what kind of weight you’re losing and where it is coming from.
Is it body fat or muscle? Is it belly fat weight from your love handles or muscle mass from your thighs? Or, has your water weight simply fluctuated?
Instead, by tracking your body measurement chart weight loss and muscle gain in inches, the picture becomes clear.
Let’s take a look at another example with the Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF. Say you measured a loss of 1.5 inches around your waist, a gain of 1.5 inches around your hips, and an increase of a total of 2 inches around your thighs and arms.
These measurements show significant progress of muscle gain and fat loss. Yet, if you had only relied on the scale and saw no change, you might have quit.
2. Measurements Help You Focus on Muscle Instead of Fat
Our fitness motto is: Forget the fat; focus on the muscle.
When you stand on a scale, all you think about is losing weight. Not to mention, if you’re doing it right that’s only about two pounds of change per week as anything more is considered dangerous across the medical field. Boring…
When you take body measurements, you’re measuring areas of your body where you should be adding muscle mass. Gaining muscle mass is far more valuable than just losing fat.
You’ve probably seen those images showing a pound of muscle being half the size of a pound of fat. Then, people will always say muscle takes up less space than fat.
Well, unfortunately, while that is motivating, it’s blown out of proportion. Muscle is only about 15% denser than fat, which means it takes up four-fifths as much space. But here’s what is motivating:
According to Christopher Wharton, PhD, interviewed in this WebMD article, ten pounds of muscle tissue burns about 50 calories daily, while ten pounds of fat burns only 20 calories daily.
And that’s at rest, while sleeping, watching a movie, or standing at a desk working. Muscle burns nearly three times the calories as fat while doing nothing!
Smart weight loss = increase muscle mass.
how to use the printable body measurement chart
We want you to get the most out of your new body measurement habit and our printable chart.
So, you’ll need to get the right tools to measure your body, learn how to take fitness body measurements, and create a schedule for measuring.
1. Gear up
Once you download the Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF, all you’ll need is a measuring tape. You can borrow one from your sewing kit or buy a self-measuring tape specifically for body measurements.
This self-measuring tape is especially helpful if you don’t have a partner to help. Additionally, it provides consistent tension for improved measurement accuracy.
View our shopping cart below for more useful body measurement tools.
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2. Focus on consistency
To accurately track your fitness measurements, it’s critical to measure your body in the same spot every time, and with the same amount of tension.
You’ll learn tricks to stay consistent below, where we discuss how to measure specific areas of your body.
You can also recruit a friend or your partner (you should be working out with your partner anyways), to help you.
3. Decide on frequency
Trust the process while tracking progress. And, no, you don’t need to record your stats daily. We recommend taking monthly body measurements on your chart, and, at most, weekly body measurements.
The frequency is highly dependent on your body type. For me as a male, it’s easier for me to pack on muscle in a matter of days and weeks. For my petite wife, her transformation takes a few months.
4. Schedule your measurements
It’s important to schedule your body measurements because you want to take them at the same time, on the same day. First thing in the morning, before your breakfast and workout is the best time.
The best days are Friday or Monday because you’ll have more of a set routine than a Saturday or Sunday. If you tend to fall off the bandwagon on the weekends, use your body measurement progress chart on Friday morning.
Also, you should take your measurements consistently before or after your first bowel movement of the day. That’s right, we’re not afraid to talk about poop. You can learn a lot about the quality of your diet by monitoring your poop.
Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF
Download and get instant access to the printable body measurement chart for fitness or weight loss progress.
how to take body measurements
Next, we’ll show you how and where to take body measurements for weight loss and fitness progress. In the fitness world, this is the standard body measurement chart, and it works for both men and women.
For some areas, such as the hips and arms, we’ll be measuring at the widest point. Since that point will be slightly different for all of us, it’s important to make note of the measurement location on your body.
Follow our simple body measurement chart tips to gather consistent measurements, at the same location and with the same tension. The measuring tape should be taut and not squeezing your skin.
In our Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF, we’ll include a column for notes on location and tension.
We recommend measuring your bicep while flexing. This helps you better identify the peak and track the gains in your biceps. All other measurements are taken while relaxed.
Measure and record both the right and left biceps so that you can monitor any muscle imbalances from side to side. Find the peak of your bicep, and that’s where you want to wrap the measuring tape.
To improve consistency, it’s best if you can identify a freckle that marks the location. If so, make a note of it on the Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF.
Wrap the tape measure around your chest underneath your arms. For consistency, align the measuring tape so that it intersects your nipples.
Take a big inhale, fully exhale, make the measuring tape taut, and take your measurement with empty lungs.
For consistency, always take the waist measurement at your belly button. Again, remember to inhale, and fully exhale.
Then, take your measurement with empty lungs and record the inches on your body measurement tracker.
Find the widest part of your hips, and that’s where you wrap the measuring tape.
This is different for everybody, so to improve consistency, it’s best if you can identify a freckle or mark on your shorts to remember the location.
You should take these measurements in the nude or wear the same shorts every time.
Measure and record both the right and left thigh so that you can monitor any muscle imbalances from side to side.
While standing, put your pinky finger on the center of your knee cap. Extend your thumb and touch the furthest point on your thigh.
For consistency, always take your thigh measurements at this point.
how else should i track progress?
The Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF is an important tool. However, most important is truly how you feel. If you feel strong, energized, and confident, that’s important progress right there.
If you’re looking for data-driven tools, these are other simple and highly useful ways to track your fitness progress, in order of importance:
1. Front, side, and back photos
2. Body caliper measurements
Our recommended tools for taking accurate measurements are in the shopping cart below.
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1. Take Before and After Photos
In the short term, filling out your Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF will tell you if your workouts are working.
But, long term, it’s the before and after photos that show the total body transformation and provide the “wow” factor many hope for. Photos can provide significantly more motivation than your fitness body measurements.
You don’t always know what area of your body is going to show the biggest change. For example, during Alex’s weight lifting transformation, the pictures showed that she toned her back significantly.
That change wasn’t as evident from the body measurement tracker.
You might never use them, and you for sure don’t need to share them with the world. But you’ll never have them if you don’t take them before you start. I know, profound right?
Trust me, just take the damn before photos to reduce the risk of regret. Here are some tips on that.
Have your plus one take the photo of you in front of a plain, uncluttered background like a white wall or door.
Wear your swimsuit or workout gear (sports bra for the ladies) and make sure your face and body are in the picture. Of course, you can do this as a selfie or with a tripod too.
Again, no one needs to see these photos but you, but we still recommend that you show some skin. We have had members on our team regret that their bodies were hidden in a t-shirt after they lost a lot of weight.
So, just take them and keep them hidden away for your future reference.
Take photos from as many angles as you’d like – front, side, back, and at a twist. Put your hands at your sides, on your hips, and flex. Take a lot of pictures because you never know which ones are going to show you the results of your hard work!
Finally, don’t suck in or push out. These photos are for you and proof of your progress. Plus, you can always tell when someone sucks in because their belly button angles up.
2. Use a Body Fat Caliper
A body fat caliper is an incredibly useful tool to estimate your body fat percentage. In our experience, there is only one tool that does the job.
This skin-fold body fat caliper is the only one we use because it’s made with rigid-plastic (any bending will make the measurement inaccurate) and comes with a simple instruction manual.
Buy it and follow the instructions. It’s simple, accessible, cost-effective, and plenty accurate.
Like the body measurements for weight loss or fitness, body fat should be measured monthly.
3. Check The Scale
Although we made it clear that the scale is not the best for tracking fitness progress, it still can be a useful tool when used correctly.
Your weight measured on a scale fluctuates based on hydration levels, time of day, hormones, time of the month (for the ladies), quality of sleep, etc.
Therefore, if you are the type to hop on the scale multiple times daily, it’s an unproductive and demotivating tool.
Control your frequency, and when you do use the scale, schedule it in as you do with the body measurements. Similarly, make sure you get on the scale at the same time, on the same day, and before breakfast or a workout.
It’s best to step on the scale in the morning in your birthday suit before you eat or drink.
Don’t expect changes to happen fast. The scale is a long term tool. At this time, we do not recommend body fat calculators that are built into your scale as their accuracy is questionable at best.
4. Take Our Fitness Test Monthly
This is another effective and motivating way to see and feel your progress.
Take our fitness test monthly and record your numbers. Watch yourself advance from a beginner, to an intermediate, to an advanced fitness level!
If your workouts have adequate volume and intensity, you can work out 3-4 times per week and see significant results in these monthly fitness tests.
If you don’t see results, the solution is not necessarily working out more frequently. The solution is working out smarter!
Follow our Fitness Test directions to measure your aerobic fitness, muscle strength, flexibility and balance.
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what are ideal body measurements?
We hear these questions all the time.
“What should be the measurements of my body?”
“What are the perfect female body measurements?”
There is no answer, and no such thing as “ideal,” “perfect,” or even “healthy” body measurements. Sorry Sir-Mix-A-Lot, but it turns out your opinion is an unhelpful and harmful rap lyric that promotes unrealistically curvy body measurements for women.
There are too many body types and every one is unique. Instead of trying to achieve a specific body shape or measurement, we recommend you be happy with your body image no matter where you are on the journey, and focus on continual improvement only if it makes you feel happier and healthier.
Additionally, instead of targeting healthy body measurements, focus on achieving your ideal body fat percentage, which you can measure using the skin-fold body fat caliper discussed above.
According to the American Counsel on Exercise, these are the percent body fat norms for men and women.
what if my body measurements aren’t changing?
If you’re putting in the work and not seeing progress on your Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF, either the fitness program is not working you hard enough or you’re not eating properly.
If the workouts aren’t working, it could be too easy, not enough strength training, or the plan you’re following is simply not effective.
You might need to experiment with different forms of exercise to know what works best for your body. That’s what we did in this cardio experiment.
Make sure you’re doing enough resistance training. Remember building muscle burns more fat so don’t be afraid to lift weights!
What’s more likely is that you’re not eating properly. Are you measuring and tracking your food? Do you know how to calculate your target daily calories?
If you don’t, understanding this one thing is vital to your success. Our 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge provides a complete guide on how to calculate your daily calorie intake and expenditure.
Most healthy people we know, us included, eat the same meals over and over each week. When you do that, it’s not necessary to track your calories every day for months on end.
However, checking your calories (literally everything you eat and drink) on the free MyFitnessPal app once a week or even once a month a week is essential to remain aware of what and how much you’re eating.
Lastly, try self-experimenting with intermittent fasting. Your body can’t burn stored fat if you are giving it new fuel all day long.
Printable Body Measurement Chart PDF
Download and get instant access to the printable body measurement chart for fitness or weight loss progress.
I need a fitness recommendation. What do I do?
We follow the programs on Beachbody On Demand. P90X3, LIIFT4, T25, and 21 Day Fix are a few of the best Beachbody workouts, all requiring minimal equipment.
Sign up for a free trial and request to join our BODgroup through the app so we can provide support and hold you accountable.
We also created the below free fitness plans and routines.
- 8-week total body Resistance Band Workout Routine
- 8-week, no equipment Bodyweight Workout Plan
- 30-Day Ab Challenge
- 30-Day Plank Challenge
- Couples Workout Routine
- Couples Yoga Flow Routine
- Couples Yoga Program
- Totally Free Beachbody Workouts
We hope that you get started and track your progress!
I have questions. What do I do?
If you have questions about how to take body measurements for weight loss, ask away in the comments below. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible and update this article accordingly.
For other fitness resources, head over to our Work Out At Home page.
30-Day Weight Loss Challenge
As engineers with ten years of health coaching experience, we needed to create a data-driven way for our clients to sustain weight loss. The number on the scale matters for weight loss, but other numbers are significantly more important.
Too many weight loss challenges involve a long list of what you can, cannot, and need to do every day. We’ve reduced the overwhelm and only require you to track five numbers a day — calories, steps, fiber, sleep, waistline.
In this 30-Day Weight Loss Challenge, you'll track five numbers daily to give you the highest return for sustainable weight loss.
Hey we're Ryan and Alex
The creators of Ryan and Alex Duo Life. We are a husband-wife duo and “lifestyle engineers.”
After eight years working in the corporate world as engineers, we left our high-powered jobs to tackle our true passion — helping couples engineer their best lives.
The synergy of our engineering minds and ten years of health coaching experience produced Ryan and Alex Duo Life. Our mission is to help you transform your bodies, minds, and relationship as a couple.
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