Monitoring Your Fitness Progress: Don't Guess- Measure!
By: Anthony Ellis
Any fitness program is incomplete without the timely measurements to monitor Your Progress. The only way to know if your mass or fat loss program is successful is by monitoring your measurements, weight and body fat levels.
'One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.' - Admiral Grace Hopper, U.S. Navy
Depending on the program, I recommend that everyone take their body fat levels every 1-2 weeks.
There's a lot that these readings reveal to a trained eye! For example, I was recently on a fat loss diet, and I did not lose any weight for three weeks. At first I thought that I needed to drop my calories further because the current levels were not working for me. I did not want to do this because as a hard-gainer, dropping my calories too low can result in too much muscle loss. So, before I committed to a more drastic diet, I checked my body fat records.
Was I in for a shock! According to my body fat calculations I was actually getting leaner. Even though my weight did not change during that three-week period, my body fat levels went down 3%! Since I did not lose any weight during that time, the fat must have been replaced by muscle (an added benefit, but this does not happen most of the time). I would have never known this by simply looking in the mirror.
Another example is last year when I was on a mass cycle. I was eating a tremendous amount of calories and gaining weight like crazy. I stopped the diet once I began to notice that my fat gains were larger than my muscle gains. I would never have noticed this if I had not closely monitored my body fat levels.
I expect to gain some fat on a mass diet, but I always want to gain more muscle than fat. If I had not kept track of my body fat levels, I would have gained too much fat.
There are many methods of measuring your body fat and some are quite expensive. While many consider underwater weighing to be the most accurate, no method is 100% precise -- they all have some margin of error. It's not important to know the exact number -- what's important is to use the same method each time you take your measurements so you can have a consistent record of your progress. I just use an inexpensive skinfold caliper. They cost anywhere from $29-$80 and are simple to use.
A good caliper is essential. Without it, you won't know how exactly your body is responding to your diet and training routine. You may also want to consider using a tracking software like The Composition Tracker at http://www.comptracker.com ... It will help you analyze your data and tell you if you are actually building more muscle and losing more fat!
Just looking in the mirror and guessing is not acceptable!
If you want to start getting great results, you must develop the habit of accurately tracking your progress. If you don't, you will continue to go in circles. This may seem like a 'hassle', but nothing worth having is ever easy to attain.
About the Author
Former "skinny guy" Anthony Ellis is the author of Gaining Mass! The most widely used weight gain program in the world. This unique program designed to help people gain weight and build muscle, is currently being used in over 100 countries and boasts the largest private weight gain forum on the Internet, with well over 15,000 members. Click here to view over 200 user testimonials: http://www.fastmusclegain.com/testimonials.html
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The Power of Stretching - Dave Snape
muscles ache from a good stretch. This is quite
normal and is part of the process. Stretching has
seemingly been with us and particularly with athletes
since the beginning of time.
A very key point to good stretching is to hold the
stretch for at least seventeen seconds. This is a
pearl of wisdom gleaned from a ballet teacher a few
years back. She said that any stretch under 17
seconds was just not effective.
The 17 second rule is exceeded in the high intensity
Bikram's yoga where stretches are held for about 30
seconds. Don't forget the high level of heat that is
used in Bikram's to extract that last little bit of
stretch out of your muscles. An interesting twist
is not necessary to gain benefits from stretching.
it can't hurt, right?
So what kind of benefits can you expect from
stretching? That's an easy one. Have you ever seen
movie, Blood Sport? Did you know that Frank Dux could
truly stretch his body to the extreme. The actor that
played him was quite elastic as well.
Great elasticity is also something you might see in
well trained Spetsnaz (Russian) agents. They often
out with Russian kettlebells too. They are for
strength gains and the ability to withstand ballistic
Why are stretching and flexibility considered
to these people? Stretching gives one the ability to
have explosive power available at one's fingertips
without the need to warm up. Of course most of us are
not martial artists or agents. But, you'll be happy
know there are plenty of other benefits.
Let me give you an example. After learning to sit in
the full lotus position for long periods of time, my
ankles became very flexible. One day I was walking
along and my left foot fell into a pothole. This
pushed my ankle sideways to about 90 degrees from
Amazingly, this didn't even hurt, not one bit. If my
ankle hadn't been so flexible, I may have suffered a
sprained ankle. At the very least, it would have hurt
Key point: stretching helps you to avoid injuries.
Not only that but if you do have a muscle, tendon or
ligament injury it should heal faster, theoretically
Stretching actually grows the ligaments, tendons and
muscles being stretched. They really grow longer over
Check with your physician before undertaking any type
of exercise, including stretching.
Here is some good
instructional material on stretching:
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