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 pay off 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 you 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
  • When taking measurements, stand tall with your muscles relaxed and your feet together.
  • When measuring, apply constant pressure to the tape (so it doesn't sag) without pinching the skin.
  • Use a flexible measuring tape, such as plastic or cloth.
  • 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.
  • The place to take some of these measurements will vary slightly from person to person. To ensure accuracy, just remember to take them in the same place on your body each time.
So don't let the scale get you down! Losing inches means you'll be wearing a smaller size in no time! Everyone will be commenting on how great you look and the number on the scale will suddenly seem a lot less important.

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Member Comments

  • LEWIS42
    I just wanted to share that I made an app specially for tracking body measurements. You can also track photos and weight. I hear from lots of customers that they see big changes in their measurements even when the scales hardly move, so donít trust the scales! Trust your measurements ??
    https://theprog
    ressapp.com
  • I used to do this monthly. I haven't done it in a long time because it was getting discouraging.The harder I worked, the less progress I saw. I have to readjust my head to see myself more clearly.
  • I am lucky enough if I bring a small bouquet of flowers, the nurse at my doctors office will take my measurements for me.
  • I have been a member of sparkpeople for many years. My first goal was to lose 50 lbs. By using all the many things provided by SP I was able to reach my goal. then I set a new goal of another 20 lbs and I lost a few more lbs, reaching a plateau and stayed on it for two years. I became discouraged, stopped tracking food and exercise etc. This resulted in my gaining 6 lbs and I assume a few inches by the way my clothes are fitting! I'AM BACK WITH A NEW DETERMINATION---I started tracking my food and exercise today and I hope this challenge will keep me on track, help me lose the weight and inches I've gained and at least another 10 lbs. I have been successful before and with the help of SP I will be again!
  • It's easy to customize your own measurements. Go to 'My Weight" then scroll down to 'Health Measurements' - 'Add Measurements'.

    I've customized my own measurements that wasn't on the chart.
  • I use the Fat % number that is displayed on my scale.
  • Can't post to Facebook.
  • I was off exercise due to being ill for 5 weeks and gained wt. How can i update my weight and my goal weight without making it Public information right now. ?
  • PATRICIA005
    Oh, apparently this is not where you get answers. I see a lot of questions with no responses. I'll just send a message to customer service. Thanks anyway.
  • PATRICIA005
    Could someone please answer the difference between Body Fat % and Body Fat Mass? They are two measurements under the trackers that seem the same to me. I'm trying to enter my info from my scale but what's the difference????? Here's a screenshot before you answer so you know exactly what I am asking. I have to share the link from my Google Photos here - it's safe. https://goo.gl/ph
    otos/oAdFvPRX
    eFCMAtsx8
  • PATRICIA005
    Could someone please answer the difference between Body Fat % and Body Fat Mass? They are two measurements under the trackers that seem the same to me. I'm trying to enter my info from my scale but what's the difference????? Here's a screenshot before you answer so you know exactly what I am asking. I have to share the link from my Google Photos here - it's safe. https://goo.gl/ph
    otos/oAdFvPRX
    eFCMAtsx8
  • How do I change the ticker to pounds not kilograms?
  • How do I add bust to my measurements?
  • Why isn't BUST a common measurment on your track measurments screen? You have waist, hips, thigh etc... but no Bust,
  • I'm an apple ..been that way my whole life, but I've been proportionate. now trying to lose weight is going to be extremely harder and more frustrating. To lose my middle, I need to do more core work which is difficult with so many issues and exercises I am unable to do now not having the flexibility I used to after having 2 back surgeries, I am limited.
    I am cleared to do anything I can tolerate. I just wish Doctors were more helpful.
    Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

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.

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