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The return of Measurement Sunday; Tracking your progress.

Sunday, January 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


Now that I’m cutting down to 8% body fat, I’ll return to my “Measurement Sundays”. Every Sunday while I’m on this cut I’ll take a complete set of tape measurements, a 7-point body fat caliper reading and my scale weight. Using that data, I’ll evaluate my progress and make any adjustments to my diet and training that I feel are necessary. If you are trying to cut body fat or gain muscle, this is a very good habit to get into. It worth spending little money on a good soft tape and body fat caliper. These are tools you’ll use over and over again.

So, let’s see how I did this first week!

My scale weight this morning is 203.2 pounds, and that means I’ve lost 3.2 pounds over the past week. Of course without a body fat reading, scale weight is not a very helpful number. So now let’s check my body fat…

My body fat reading this morning is 15.0% (as measured by the Fat Track PRO Digital Body Fat Calipers). That’s a .5% drop from last week’s reading (the start of my cut) of 15.5%. Now, using my scale weight along with my body fat reading I can calculate how much of my weight loss was fat, and how much was lean mass (note: the upcoming JSF BodyShop™ makes these calculations for you automatically). I’ve lost 1.512 pounds of fat this week, and 1.68 pounds of lean mass. I need to digress for a moment…

A lot of people don’t really understand what lean mass is. Some people think “lean mass” is synonymous with muscle. That is not correct. Lean mass includes muscle, but it also includes water, bone, blood, hair and so on. It’s this simple: Everything in your body that is not fat is considered lean mass.

So, does a 1.68 pound loss of lean mass mean I’ve lost 1.68 pounds of muscle? Highly doubtful. This is the first week of my cut, and I started off pretty bloated with water from my cheat meal weekend before the cut started. I’m pretty sure all of that 1.68 pounds was water weight, which you now know is considered lean mass. It’s very common to lose a lot of water weight the first week of a cut. I expect future weeks will show far less lean mass loss.

So, this brings us to the last piece of the puzzle: tape measurements. Tape measurements are a great way to keep tabs on your typical body fat storage areas (thighs, hips, waist), but they are also helpful in determining if you’re losing muscle mass. As you cut you will lose some fat from areas like your upper arms and chest (especially if you tend to store fat in those areas) but, generally speaking, these loses will not be as dramatic as, say, your mid-section.

My tape measurements (as measured by the MyoTape) show good progress for the week: I lost a half inch from my waist, a quarter inch from my hips and a quarter inch from my thighs. All the rest of my measurements held steady. Excellent.

I’m very happy with my first week of cutting progress. My diet has been 100% on-plan, I didn’t miss any training or cardio sessions, I’ve been sleeping well and I feel great.

And this is what it takes. One week down, do it again next week and the next until I reach my goal. Don’t look too far ahead. Take it one day at a time, one week at a time. Before you know it you’ll look in the mirror and be grinning from ear to ear. 🙂

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