Something that has become quite apparent to me in more recent years, is that most people make the decision to join the gym and start training as a way to make changes to their body.
And while there are certainly some exceptions to this rule (there are no doubt a select few who want to get stronger, or improve athleticism), you can guarantee that the vast majority of people who enter the gym want to feel better about themselves, and ultimately, look good naked.
And there is nothing wrong with this.
Improving body composition is a worthy goal, and working hard to make changes to your body can be extremely rewarding.
The issue is that when trying to improve body composition, people often measure progress through the use of weight related goals - for example: I want to lose 10 kilograms. And while I admit that I am not in the position to determine whether your individual goal is acceptable or not, I can say that in my experience weight related goals rarely provide any value at all.
Although it may sound like a good idea at the time, most people don’t realize that our weight tends to fluctuate massively in accordance to what we have eaten the past couple of days, how much fluid we have consumed, and how much exercise we have performed (among a myriad of other potential factors).
Moreover, if we are using weight training (as ideally we should be) to promote fat loss, then we will most likely see increases in muscle mass that coincide with reductions in fat mass. This would result in a relatively unchanged scale weight, despite actually losing fat tissue.
As a result, if your goal is ‘to lose 10 kilograms’, you might become disheartened despite actually making some pretty serious changes to your body composition.
In this situation the scale is not really indicative of all the progress you have made.
So what can we do instead?
Performance based goals
Performance based goals pretty much describe goals based around improvements observed in the gym or on the field.
For example, completing 5 strict chin ups, deadlifting 1.5X body weight, or performing 15 strict push ups are all fine performance based goals. These performance based goals have much more merit than weight related goals because they don’t rely on something as variable of body weight to track change.
And more importantly, these goals are truly indicative of the hard work that you put in.
If you start at the gym and can’t perform either a single chin up or a single push up, and then after 3 months of training can complete 3 chin ups and 10 push ups, you can be certain that you have made progress. These improvements are a tangible measure of all the hard work you have put in to your training over the last 90 days.
And seeing the cumulative results of your hard work is extremely rewarding.
Furthermore, I can guarantee that some serious changes in body compassion (aka a loss of fat mass and an increase in muscle mass) will have come along with these performance based changes.
And while these changes may not be identified as clearly by the scale, you can certainly see them (in both physical appearance and improvement in performance).
So In Summary
It’s unfortunate, but too many people seem to think that a reduction in scale weight is progress. I say unfortunate, because realistically speaking, I could go to the bathroom and see more weight loss in 10 minutes than most would see after 2 weeks of solid training.
While the scale does measure ‘weight’, it can be extremely deceptive. How do you know that you have lost fat and not muscle? or just fluid for that matter?
But if you see genuine improvement in your performance, then you can guarantee you are making quality progress.
Seriously, the sooner you make your goals performance based, the better off you will be (trust me).