It all sounds so sexy. Hot looking models in magazines and on TV raving about how the latest, greatest fitness plan helped them drop their body fat 10-20%, and how it can do the same for you. Those sorts of claims sound impressive, but they only tell part of the story. With many diet and exercise plans itâ€™s possible you are losing a lot of muscle mass at the same time you are losing fat, and thatâ€™s not good for your fitness or your metabolism.
And thereâ€™s more… Either you pay a lot of money for unreliable home equipment, or you pay even more for a really inconvenient lab test that also produces imperfect results. How often are you really gonna go through this huge hassle to get a reading you canâ€™t even be sure you can rely on?
Add it all up, and itâ€™s fair to say when it comes to body fat percentage, who cares?
But that doesnâ€™t mean you shouldnâ€™t care about progress in your weight loss and fitness plan. You just need to find a better way to measure it.
RELATIVE FITNESS LEVEL
A much better reading youâ€™ll want to determine is your RELATIVE FITNESS LEVEL.
Relative Fitness keeps it very simple. It answers the questions people really care about:
- Are you leaner (Relatively less fat)?
- Are you just as strong or even stronger than before (Relatively stronger)?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then youâ€™ll see the results and youâ€™ll be reaching your weight loss and fitness goals, and thatâ€™s what weâ€™re after!
In addition to being a far more meaningful measure, the ease of measuring your relative fitness level is really important to the sustainability of your fitness plan. Little things like being cheap (as in FREE), convenient (as in you can do it at HOME) and easy (involves 2 simple steps) to measure, make it much more likely you will measure it often, which increases your chances of success in reaching your weight loss and fitness goals.
2 STEPS TO MEASURING RELATIVE FITNESS
STEP 1 DETERMINE YOUR RELATIVE FAT LOSS
In order to determine if you have lost fat, you will need a way to measure it. A scale can certainly provide useful info but just knowing your weight doesnâ€™t tell you how you look, which is why most people are on fitness plans in the first place.
The easiest and most meaningful tool for most people is a specific outfit of clothing. A tight fitting shirt and pair of pants can tell you a lot more about how youâ€™re progressing in your plan than any set of fat calipers.
Once youâ€™ve established your â€œfitness outfitâ€ you simply need to try it on periodically and see how it fits. If you want to be more precise, you can measure how loose your clothes are in areas that store a lot of fat (stomach, inner thighs), but itâ€™s really not necessary. Youâ€™ll know when youâ€™ve lost enough fat that you can see the difference.
STEP 2 DETERMINE YOUR RELATIVE MUSCLE (STRENGTH)
Strength Tests for Each of the Major Muscle Groups
Establish a set of exercise challenges that you can measure to determine your strength for each major muscle group. Youâ€™ll design a test that establishes your current level of strength for each muscle group. You should design your test with a fitness professional you trust, but a good starting point might be to perform 2 sets of each exercise with 30 seconds rest in between each set. Rest for at least 3 minutes between each exercise. This not only tests your strength but gives you a measure of strength endurance which is also very important.
Hereâ€™s a starter list of exercises, but you can find endless exercises that you like that will establish your strength for any muscle group:
- Chest basic push ups
- Legs Upper Squats or Hindu Squats
- Legs Lower Weighted Calf Raises
- Core Russian Twists, Planks, â€œVâ€ sit ups
- Biceps Dumbbell or resistance band curls, chin ups
- Upper Back Dumbell â€œLawn Mowersâ€, Overhand Pull Ups
- Middle and Lower Back: Cable Rows, Dead Lifts
- Shoulders Military Press or Handstand Push Ups
- Explosive Strength Lower Body: Clean and Jerk, Vertical leap and standing Broad Jump
- Explosive Strength Upper Body: Clap Push Ups
In addition to covering all the major muscle groups, you might want to add functional strength tests that are important to your personal lifestyle (example: wall sits for skiers, forearm strength for tennis, etc).
Record the results of your test and you have just established your current level of strength. One more great thing about this step is that it can count for your workout for the day, because itâ€™s a great circuit.
Repeat this test periodically to prove you are maintaining or improving your strength and you can be very confident you are keeping your muscles fit!
Those 2 steps are all it takes to measure if you are on track to fat loss and improved fitness.
BE CONSISTENT WITH YOUR RELATIVE FITNESS MEASUREMENTS
To get the most out of your new relative fitness measurement, you want to follow a consistent set of procedures including:
Perform your tests:
â€¢ At the same time of day
- At the same time before or after a meal
- Under the same conditions (outside, inside)
- At consistent intervals (once a week, two weeks, month)
This way you reduce variations that different circumstances can cause.
START TODAY â€“ HECK, START RIGHT NOW!
With the relative fitness measurement, you have everything you need to get started right now. No labs or equipment required, and you donâ€™t even need to go to the gym. Just choose your outfit, do your strength test, and then follow the plan of your choice to get leaner and stronger. Measure your progress every week or two.
Stay with this approach, and, down the road, when people are marveling at how great you look, how fit you are, youâ€™ll be very glad you chose not to care about your body fat percentage.