If you didn’t know where you were going, had no map and no Google maps, how would you know if you have arrived at your destination? You wouldn’t! So why would you start off on your fitness journey with no idea what you want to achieve and no way of measuring your progress?

Before we head off like headless chickens to the local gym or spin class, we need to first define what you want to achieve. I have covered this in more detail here.

The next thing we need to know if work out how are we going to measure success or failure. If the plan is not working, we need to know about it sooner rather than later. The same applies to success. We need to know if we are heading in the right direction.

There are a few ways in which we can measure progress and we can even combine a few of these for a an effective solution.

Progress photos

The first way in which we measure progress is by using photos. The camera doesn’t lie, if you follow a few simple tips.

  • Use the same location (if possible)
  • Use the same lighting
  • Use the same time of day
  • Use the same clothing
  • Choose either relaxed or tensed

I see plenty of people online posting before and after photos that are deceiving and misguided. The first photo is one from 1993, in a dark room and they are slouched on a sofa like they have just woken up from a nap. The second photo is a professionally edited photo with a minimum of 27 filters applied and after a gym workout consisting of a 46 sets of arms.

I would recommend doing photos at least every 4 weeks. One from the front, side and back will be enough for most people.

Body measurements

A tape measure is going to cost about £2 and will take out any ambiguity of whether your waist ‘feels’ slimmer or not. I would recommend measuring your chest, arms, waist, hips and the top of your legs. Try to be as accurate as possible by measuring the same point every time. Either choose flexed or relaxed and stick to the same every time you measure.

I would recommend carrying out measurements every 2 to 4 weeks to ensure you are heading in the right direction.


The dusty little machine in the corner has the ability to make or break your day, and it needs to stop. The scales can be used as a measure of progress but need to be used with caution, especially from those that have emotional attachment to their weight. With weight we need to be looking at a trend in the right direction, not to get upset and excited about daily fluctuations.

I would recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning, after and shit and before breakfast. Make sure you wash your hands in between. You can weigh yourself daily, weekly or bi weekly. It is entirely up to you.

Just be aware the scales are only showing you how heavy you are, not how much body fat you have. Even the fancy ones with bells and whistles are not accurate. They are going to be effected by carbs, salt, water intake, how late your last meal was and if you have had a poo.


I’m a big fan of performance related goals. They take away to vanity element from the process and focusses purely on how fast you run, how much weight you can lift or how quick you can carry out a certain task. If you want to look like an athlete, you need to perform like one.

If you most people focused on being stronger, faster and fitter you would likely achieve your desired body shape as a by-product. Set yourself a simple challenge of aiming for a particular goal. Whether that is a 10km time, a max lift deadlift or a fitness test you have found online.

I would recommend retesting for performance every 3 – 6 months.


If you don’t measure, you are just guessing. You need to know if your plan of action is working or failing. Make adjustments to your plan to make those goals unmissable. Get a goal, get a plan and let’s get shit done!

If you need help with setting a goal, setting a plan or a kick up the arse to get it done, then you need to get in touch now. Just fill in my contact form and I will be in touch to discuss how I can best help you.