Fitness Articles

How to Take Body Measurements

Track Your Progress with a Measuring Tape

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It's easy to get discouraged when you work so hard to lose weight and your efforts don't reflect on the scale. Seeing the same number week after week can make you want to drown your sorrows in a pint of Haagen-Daz. But wait! Before you pick up that spoon, take your measurements.

Body measurements can be a useful way to track your progress. Many times you'll see a loss of inches even if the scale isn't moving. To ensure accuracy, measure in exactly the same place and under the same conditions each time. Here are some instructions and tips to help you. When you're done measuring, you can track your measurements on SparkPeople to see how your body changes over time.

Common Body Measurements


Bust: Place the measuring tape across your nipples and measure around the largest part of your chest. Be sure to keep the tape parallel to the floor.

Chest: Place the measuring tape just under your breasts/pecs and measure around the torso while keeping the tape parallel to the floor.

Waist: Place the measuring tape about a 1/2 inch above your bellybutton (at the narrowest part of your waist) to measure around your torso. When measuring your waist, exhale and measure before inhaling again.

Hips: Place the measuring tape across the widest part of your hips/buttocks and measure all the way around while keeping the tape parallel to the floor. You can use your waist and hip measurements to calculate your Waist-to-Hip ratio, an assessment that can help determine your health risk. Use SparkPeople's Waist-to-Hip Ratio Calculator to determine your ratio.

Thigh: Measure around the largest part of each thigh.

Calves: Measure around the largest part of each calf.

Upper arm: Measure around the largest part of each arm (above the elbow).

Forearm: Measure around the largest part of each arm (below the elbow).

Neck: Measure around the largest part of the neck.

Tips for Measuring

  • Use a flexible measuring tape, such as plastic or cloth.
  • When taking measurements, stand tall with your muscles relaxed and feet together.
  • Apply constant pressure to the tape (so it doesn't sag) without pinching the skin.
  • Measure under the same conditions each time, such as wearing the same clothes (or none at all).
  • Measure yourself in front of a mirror to make sure the tape is positioned correctly. If possible, have someone else do the measuring for you.
  • To ensure accuracy, remember to take measurements in the same place on your body each time.
Don't let the scale get you down! Losing inches can be even more impactful than losing pounds.

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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.