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We at LDNM do not focus solely on the scale weight numbers when measuring progress over set intervals towards a goal. However, it is useful when used correctly and in conjunction with photographic documentation, and or body fat (or composition) analysis, in order to accurately monitor progress towards a goal.

Below I will note the most common methods used by people when trying to reach a measureable health and fitness goal, and how to ensure you don’t skew the readings and potentially blur or overestimate your progress- as both scenarios can potentially be detrimental to specific individuals in a psychological sense.

Scale Weight is Affected by:

  • Level of hydration,
  • Amount and weight of food consumed,
  • Being in a depleted or full state- saturation level of the muscles’ carbohydrate stores.

This means a large meal, a lack of fibre.., time of day, pre or post workout, before or after a reefeed day, etc, can ALL affect your weight shown on the scales. Below are some tips to make utilising scale weight more worthwhile:

  • Weigh yourself at the same time of day each time,
  • With the same amount of fluids and food in your system,
  • At the same period of time in relation to your reefeed day(s),
  • With the same set of scales on a flat, hard, level surface

Effectively, make it a fair test with the same conditions (independent variables) each time.

Let Me Take a Selfie (Affected by):

  • Level of hydration
  • Amount and type of food consumed
  • Being in a depleted or full state- saturation level of the muscles’ carbohydrate stores
  • The shade of your skin (as you tan you appear more defined generally speaking)
  • Lighting- don’t lie, you know where the best lighting in at least the gym, the changing rooms, your bedroom and your bathroom is located
  • Being in a pumped state post workout and appearing bigger than usual

This means that again there are various contributory factors here- so ensure you follow all the tips below for a fair test via the selfie method:

  • Similar amounts of fluids and food in your system
  • The same period of time in relation to your reefeed day(s)
  • Use the same (mirror and) spot in the room from which to pose for your selfie(s)
  • Don’t apply half a bottle of fake tan in the 7-14 days between photos, but by all means tan away if you’re going abroad!
  • Employ the same pose(s) and level of tension in photos
  • Don’t take post-workout (but if you must try to train the same muscle group before photos

This is the Most Important One Though:

  • Don’t switch the side of your body your tattoo is on between photos! And don’t get a new tattoo between photos- otherwise you’re fake, don’t exist and confuse a lot of very angry, loud people.

Body Fat Analysis Scales are Affected by:

  • Level of hydration
  • Amount and weight of food consumed
  • Body temperature
  • Wet feet
  • Time between training and using the scales
  • Being generally inaccurate

These are common in most small gyms and some households, but can vary between manufacturers in regards to the degree of accuracy, again ensuring a fair test each time you use this method is key.

  • Same time of day (and distance to training)
  • Similar room and body temperature
  • Dry feet
  • Same set of scales on solid, flat flooring
  • Same level of hydration and similar amount/weight of food consumed


There are other methods that are less commonly used such as skinfold tests, more accurate health spa body fat analysis tests, etc, again ensure the independent variables are kept the same to ensure a fair measurement of your progress between recordings.

Our Recommendations:

  • Don’t rely on one of the three options presented to measure your progress, use all three or two (including the photo option).
  • Complete a fair test each time you take measurements/photos; the same time of day, hydration, food consumption, etc.
  • Employ a second opinion when judging photos- we can all be too hard on ourselves.
  • Don’t utilise a BMI calculator if you have any notable muscle mass- you will most probably be classed as overweight, or obese.

Take into Account:

  • Muscle weighs more than fat.
  • Weight fluctuations upwards of 2-4lbs or above can happen throughout the day- so make the test conditions as fair as possible each time.
  • High carb and high salt intake can increase water retention (affecting results further).

Finally, if you have the bank balance, a DEXA full body scan is arguably the most accurate form of body fat and composition measurement- however the price and lack of public friendly facilities makes this method unsustainable to the majority of gym goers.

For fully comprehensive diet and training plans designed to shred body fat check out LDNM’s Guides;

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