The first things most people turn to in order to gauge their fitness level are the height weight tables. Height and weight tables are good but there are so many other ways to determine your fitness which are better and more accurate. In order to ensure you meet your goals and that you are the right path you have to clearly understand where you are today. Don't worry; identifying your starting point is really not that difficult if you follow a process. In the end it will be more detailed than the height weight tables.
We will start with the easiest ones that almost everyone knows or has the ability to quickly find out. (We will use these in a few minutes)
Now grab yourself a tape measure and let's see where you are with the standard measurements. With all these measurements go ahead and suck in or flex to make yourself as big or as small as you want. It doesn't really matter because we are tracking progress not absolutes so as long as you do it the same each time its okay.
Now let's see where those muscles are today.
Okay so now we have all the basics in order to track progress in a measurable way. Height weight tables only give you one way to track and one number to work with. So far we have 10 more points of reference than the height weight tables. Either grab you a notebook and write down all these numbers with the date or hop over to one of these free online tracking tools and enter the data there so we don't lose it.
Now I want to grab some other indicators that are more subjective but just as important in tracking progress and feeling better about achieving your goals. Go grab your favorite outfit and write down the clothing sizes (shirt size, pants size, suit size, underwear size, etcâ€¦). When you take a shower spend some time checking yourself out in the mirror and write in your log how you feel about the way you look. Try to be positive and talk about the things you like about your body and not the things you dislike. Remaining positive is important for your mental state. If you disagree with that new age kind of statement I have a whole lot more proof to offer elsewhere on this site, but that is for another day.
Okay so now you have all the information you need to track your body changes and clearly define where you are today physically. There are two main ways to get a solid gauge of where you are with your fitness. Well three if you include the height weight tables.
Based on your height and weight a number is generated. This is slightly better than height weight tables but not by much. The larger the number the worse condition you are in. This is used by the government as a gauge of health. It has several limitations because everybody has a different body shape. For example, if you have a lot of muscle this tool will call you obese. If you have a really small frame it will say you are underweight. In order to calculate BMI you can use a BMI calculator or the raw formula.
BMI = (weight in pounds x 703) / (height in inches x height in inches)
BMI = weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters)
|18.5 - 24.9||Normal|
|30 & Above||Obese|
I prefer this method because it gives you an accurate gauge of where you are regardless of your frame, amount of muscle, or unique body structure. To calculate your body fat percentage you can use a home body fat scale which is the easiest and most convenient if you have few bucks to spare.
Another method and actually considered the most accurate is to use a body fat caliper. Basically it has you measure folds of skin in various locations and based on those measurements it has a chart which tells you body fat. All body fact calipers are pretty cheap and come with full instructions.
Be sure to record your process at the same time everyday as body fat changes based
on how much water you have in your system. In the mornings you will be slightly
dehydrated and these scales will read higher body fat. In the evenings, if you are
drinking enough water, you will be carrying a lot of water and the weight will be
higher but the body fat lower.
The third method which is the quickest is to just use an online body fat calculator which is why I had you take the measurements earlier. This is pretty close to the other methods and just as simple as the height weight tables.
|20-40 yrs||Under 21%||21-33%||33-39%||Over 39%|
|41-60 yrs||Under 23%||23-35%||35-40%||Over 40%|
|61-79 yrs||Under 24%||24-36%||36-42%||Over 42%|
|20-40 yrs||Under 8%||8-19%||19-25%||Over 25%|
|41-60 yrs||Under 11%||11-22%||22-27%||Over 27%|
|61-79 yrs||Under 13%||13-25%||25-30%||Over 30%|
Write down that number and save a link to this page so you can recalculate it again later as you make progress.
Okay that wasn't so bad now was it. Now you should have a pretty good idea about where you are now as it relates to body fat and general health. You also have your first entry in your notebook or online tracking tool so after you have been doing a workout routine for a couple of weeks you can come back and see where you started and accurately measure your progress. If you are building muscle you can track muscle growth, clothing sizes, weight, and mood. If you are losing fat you can track lost inches, body fat reduction, clothing size, and mood.
The next step is to take a look at your nutrition and determine where changes can be made to move you forward toward your goals. Now aren't you glad you read more than those height weight tables?