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Skip the Scale! 4 Other Ways to Measure Progress in Your Fitness

The number on the scale isn’t as big of a deal as you might think it is. Read on for some alternate ways to measure progress in your fitness.

By Roger Lockridge

Most of you reading this might be too young to know the name Paul Harvey. He was a radio announcer who did various stories and commentaries on current and past affairs in the news. One segment he did was called “The Rest of the Story”. Harvey would talk about the headline which everyone would likely know but then go deeper into the people or situation and share facts that the listener may not know.

So what does this have to do with fitness? The big number that everyone wants to know is the number on the scale. In my career as a trainer, I’ve dealt with clients who would become so obsessed with the scale that they would factor it into their self-worth.

Weight is important, but being that consumed by that number isn’t helping you. There are other ways you can measure progress in your fitness and determine your success. Once you start applying these tests, you too can know the rest of your story.


You can take photos and see physical evidence of the results and determine if the path your following is a good one or if you need to change things up. Make sure you take them with the same camera in the same space with the same lighting and at the same time of the day. Take photos from the front and the back. How do your shoulders look? Is your waist smaller? Notice smaller details too like how you’re standing. Is your posture better? Are you smiling a little bigger? Those are small signs of confidence that can give you momentum to improve even more!

Clothes Sizes

Let’s take a look at your wardrobe. Are those shirts fitting a little better? Is it easier to button those jeans or put your shoes on? These things are a big deal because clearly your body is changing. Perhaps you’re going the other way and you want to gain size. Sizing up because of your shoulders and not your stomach is a great feeling. Don’t take that for granted.

Activity Levels

For this one I’m talking about the numbers of whatever activity you’re doing. If you’re talking about weight training, then are you working your way towards the end of the dumbbell rack? Are you lowering the pin on the machine stack? Is the weight you struggled to do 8 reps with now what you do for 12?

Let’s talk about running. Is your time in the 5k a few seconds less? Are you finishing without being exhausted? If so, then clearly you’re improving. It doesn’t matter what the number on the scale is; if you’re moving faster and being more productive, then you’re improving. Track your workouts in a log and see the numbers for yourself. That’s progress in black and white!


Wait, sleep? How can you track that? This isn’t one that you necessarily measure. The question here is actually about how you wake up. How do you feel first thing in the morning? Are you struggling to get awake and dragging throughout the morning or do you wake up rested and refreshed? If you’re sleeping better than you’ll be better while you’re awake and that’s a surefire way to determine that you’re doing something right.

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