Is stepping on the scale the only way to measure fitness levels? Actually, it’s just one of several valid ways to track fitness progress. Each of us have different body compositions and how much we weigh isn’t the end-all measurement of fitness and health.

It’s important to identify your body type and embrace it because that’s what Mother Nature gave you.

Which of these three body types are you?

Ectomorphs – Lean and long with difficulty building muscle
Endomorph – Higher body fat with a tendency to store fat
Mesomorphs – Muscular with a high metabolism and responsive muscle cells

You may be one body type with tendencies of another type. For example, you may be a mesomorph with endomorph tendencies. Tailor your diet and exercise program around your body type and fitness goal. Maybe you’re an endomorph who wants to focus on a strength-based program to build muscle or maybe you have a higher cardio focus because your body tends to store more fat.

Now that you know your body type, consider focusing on these numbers to measure fitness instead of what the scale says.

Circumferential Measurements
Muscle is more dense than fat, but fat can take up more space. You may be in a gym routine that is building muscle and burning fat yet the number on the scale stays the same. Try taking actual circumferential measurements of your waist, thighs or arms. Measure the same place every week for consistency and comparison. For example, measure at the smallest part of your waist or 6 inches above the top of your kneecap.

Distance, Time or Both
Maybe you want to run faster, farther or for a longer time. Make an endurance goal and keep increasing the number as you meet your goal.

Want to build strength? Focus on how many push-ups or how much weight you can squat.

Step back from the scale and watch yourself cover more ground, lift more weight and shrink that waist as you track your fitness progress.

By Dr. Laurel Mines, PT, DPT