When most people see a bodybuilder with a ripped physique the one of the first questions that comes to mind is“So, what’s your body fat percentage?” Quite frankly most don’t know and really don’t care. The same way the judges at a bodybuilding show don’t ask you, “how much do you bench?” they also don’t ask you to submit to a body fat test. There are three very simple measures you can take to tell if the subtle changes you are making to your diet and cardio are working are showing in your physique.
1) Body weight. If you are losing anywhere between 1-2 pounds per week, you are generally doing well (unless you are starting out with a lot of body fat). More than that and you will probably be losing not only body fat, but some of your hard-earned muscle as well. One thing to note, always weigh yourself at the same time each week – preferably first thing in the morning after you use the bathroom and before you eat or drink anything. This way you will eliminate many of the variables and you can get an accurate picture.
2) The mirror. Week to week, you should be able to see subtle differences in your physique… an extra line here, a new striation in the muscle there. If you are honest with yourself, the mirror will be your friend. Everyone says they can be honest with themselves, but that isn’t always the case. As a matter of fact, there may be times when you look at yourself at different times of the day and think you look great one minute and look terrible the next. We call that the craziness from dieting. Hormones aren’t always what you would call “regulated” when you are hungry as hell and expending maximum effort in your workout on a daily basis. You can also use the mirror to be able to tell if you are bloated after a certain meal. This can help you figure out if a certain food is difficult for you to digest. For example, some folks have issues with gluten in their diet. If that person eats oatmeal that isn’t gluten-free, it could cause major discomfort in the digestive process. The mirror, along with some self-awareness, will help figure that out.
3) Pictures. There’s a show on ESPN called “Numbers Never Lie.” Well that goes for pictures as well. If you can’t be honest with yourself, take a pictures. And, like weighing yourself, do it at the same time each week. It’s a good idea to take these each week to see how you progressing.
Finally, if you don’t think you can be truly honest with yourself, or if you are just starting out, a trainer or person you trust might be the answer. A trainer can get pricey, so beware. Also, make SURE this person has trained before! Don’t be afraid to ask for whom he/she has trained and what the results were. Hey, you’re paying for it, so you better be sure before you put all your trust (and money) in it.