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The problems of the weighing scales

Usually the weighing scales are most peoples primary choice of charting progress when trying to get into shape. My personal opinion from working with hundreds of clients over the years is that the weighing scales are perhaps the worst method by which to chart progress for the average person. What are the problems with the weighing scales? (Article continues below video if prefer to read it).



The main problem I have found with many clients using the weighing scales is the total lack of correlation with body fat losses. When following a plan that removes body fat and improves health (compared to trying not to eat anything at all) then the body fat losses do not correlate to the expected weight changes in the majority of circumstance. I have seen women lose a dress size yet no actual weight. I have seen men lose 3 inches around their waist yet gain weight.

The reason this happens is because your weight is not just about measuring your levels of body fat. Your weight shows your current levels of body fat, muscle, hydration status and weight of other elements of your body e.g. organs, bones, blood etc. Therefore any changes in the actual scales may reflect changes in any of these elements. Therefore, if you increase hydration levels you will gain weight. Develop more muscle and you will also gain weight. These changes can off-set losses in body fat. While longer term there will usually be a degree of correlation to your weight it will be much less accurate or in most cases of no help at all for week to week progress evaluation.

Goal weight

More problems are created with the weighing scales because of the goal weight most people are trying to achieve. While I have taken many people from where they were when they came to see me to their ultimate goal in body fat terms. I have seen hardly any go onto achieve that "goal weight" they quoted on day 1. This is because we often have crazy numbers for the perfect weight we should be which has absolute no correlation to what your actual goal weight should be. Most people work out their goal weight based on a number they were often 5, 10 or 20 years previously. During this time the body has changed and that target weight has actually increased.


The worst element of the scales is the obsession it creates. Through a combination of unrealistic goal weight and a lack of correlation to both progress and the end point it allows people to become obsessive. The scales though play clever tricks with you. They may drop by 2 kg after a gym session yet go up by a similar amount just a few hours later (as you re hydrate). This creates a series of ups and downs which do nothing but drive you crazy. I have had many clients who weigh themselves daily, some before and after meals and many more with various rituals.

The best place for the scales is to weigh yourself at the start of your plan and then at the end when you have achieved the look you want. Then simply take a passing interest in what happened with the weighing scales.

For more productive ways to chart progress read my article on measuring progress.

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