Don't you hate it when you've been working out for a few weeks, and you step on the scale prepared to see weight loss awesomeness - only to find that not only have you NOT lost weight, but you're heavier than you were before?! You've been crushing that workout program, and you've forced yourself onto a low fat, low calorie diet, and this is how your scale repays you?!!!!!
Good news, your scale is stupid, and you shouldn't believe what it says. Here are three reasons why:
Scales are often wrong -- Digital scales are becoming more and more common, but they're far less reliable than analog scales. Even old-style bathroom scales are inaccurate, as even a speck of dust can stop the machine from taking accurate measurements. The only way to really measure weight accurately is with the scales you find at a doctor's office or in your gym.
Scales only measure weight -- When you do a lot of high intensity exercise, you're burning away a lot of fat, but your muscles have to store more water and glucose in order to work. You may weigh more than you did a few weeks ago, but your lean body weight has increased while your body fat has decreased.
Scales don't account for muscle growth -- As your muscles grow, they have to store more fluids and glucose to be able to keep up with the increased demands placed on them. Say you were once benching 200 pounds, but now you can bench 250. Your muscles have to store that extra "50 pounds' worth" of energy, which weighs more than inert fat stored in your adipose tissue.
Your New Best Friend: Body Composition Testing
Scales are liars, and they don't really tell you the truth about your body. They aren’t an accurate judge of your progress, so it's time to kick them out of your life and find a new friend: the body composition test.
This test uses skin fold calipers or biofeedback devices to tell you just where your body fat percentage is at, a real indication of your current level of fitness.
Women should have:
- No more than to 38% body fat
- Optimal body fat is anywhere from 20% to 30%
- For athletic performance, 17% to 25% is best
Men should have:
- No more than 25% body fat
- Optimal body fat is anywhere from 2% to 20%
- For athletic performance, 8% to 15% is best
As you train and work hard, take body composition tests every few weeks to see how much fat you have eliminated. Even if your weight hasn't changed, a reduction in body fat will mean that you're increasing your lean body weight - ideal for fitness!
Don't listen to your scale, but measure your body fat to see just how much progress you're making in your fitness efforts!