How to Take Body Measurements

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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Member Comments

I need to work on this. Thanks for the information. Report
I need to work on this. Thanks for the information. Report
can you please provide diagrams on pictures? Report
I haven't taken my measurements in a while Report
Are the measurements needing to be in inches or centre meters? I do not know if I am needing to measure in inches or in centre meters, please can you let me know which it is I need on my measuring tape? Report
thanks.... Report
I haven't been measuring but I will do it after reading this article. Report
I need to do this. I have gained 10 pounds in the past few months. My three adult children and others told me I had lost too much weight and was too thin so I thought I should gain a few pounds back. I am up one size in jeans, went from a size 8 to 10. I feel comfortable at this weight but need to get back to more strength training. Report
Taking my measurements is on my TO DO LIST. I know from the difference in the way my clothes fit, that my measurements are changing. Having the exact figures in front of me to realize the CHANGE, would be a motivator and help me to move forward. GREAT ARTICLE!!!! Report
Are the measurements supposed to be metric or imperial? Report
Thanks Report
Great tips! Thank you! Report
thanks the nurse at my doctors office does mine as part of my record Report
I take my waist & hip measurements. I do not take the remaining. I track both every month on Spark People. I have lost over 40 pounds & my bust measurement has not changed at all. Most of the weight loss was in my hip & waist area, the area also where I gained it . It would be too difficult to measure everything else accurately. I can see my other measurements have gone slightly. My waist measurement is 10 inches less. Report
I don't take all those measurements, but I do take some. Inches lost helps me stay focused more on becoming healthy rather than the number on the scale. Report


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 runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist, behavior change specialist and functional training specialist. She is also a RRCA-certified running coach. See all of Jen's articles.
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