You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure

3 min read


‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’ this is such a true statement… Trust me, I’ve learnt this the hard way!

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Metrics give us a good starting point and some guidance on what’s working and what’s not. In the early years of being a Personal Trainer, I quickly learnt that if I’m not measuring my clients starting point and progress then we are taking the loooong road to success (if we get there).

This also rings true with my own training; hours and hours wasted with mindless and unproductive training sessions….WHY?

All because I didn’t measure and therefore I didn’t know where I needed to go, or what I needed to be working on in order to make real progress and see solid results.

So here are my top three variables that personally, I like to keep a close eye on, and measure in order to successfully reach both my clients and own personal goals…

#1 – Calories

The Law Of Thermodynamics (energy in vs energy out) is one of the most important factors to control if you are looking to lose or gain weight.


If we consume more energy (calories) than we are burn, then it is in inevitable that you will gain weight from stored energy. This goes for the other way round; if we consume less energy than we are burning then we will lose weight.

Ok.. so there are some overriding factors such as hormones that can affect the law of thermodynamics, but without tracking and measuring your calories we will not know whether you are simply eating too much or to little and if there is an underlying problem that we need to address.

How Do I Measure My Calories? Personally, I use MyFitnessPal which is one of many online apps to measure your calories. Super easy to use.

#2 – Training Overload & Progression 

Overload & Progression are two basic training principles that help us to build strength and improve general fitness overtime.

Overload refers to the amount of load or resistance, providing a greater stress, or load, on the body that it is normally accustomed to in order to improve strength and fitness.

Progression is the principle of which we must progressively or gradually increase the workload overtime for improvement to happen.


How Do I Measure Overload & Track Progression? First of all we need a starting point, you can test your strength to see how much weight you can lift (with good form), how many reps you can lift at a set weight (with good form) and a fitness test, for example how quick you can run a mile or how long you can sustain a set pace for.

These are just a few ways in which we can test where you are in terms of strength and fitness. After that, it’s down to you when you retest and how you track your progress, whether that’s on pen and paper, on your phone or in a training programme.

#3 – Body Composition 

If your goal is body composition, then finding a start point is really important for setting realistic time bound goals, which we then continually measure and work towards.


How Do I Measure My Body Composition? Well, measuring your body fat and muscle mass accurately is not an easy task and there are many ways of doing so.

Scales. If you are using scales please bear in mind this is a very inaccurate way to measure body fat, however, if you do want to weigh yourself doing it every morning, same time, before food and add up the weekly total and pair that against the other weeks averages. This is probably your best bet.

Callipers. Great tool for measuring your body fat which can be inexpensive but require a little skill and attention. If you want to learn the how, then here is a great video from Mike Mathews showing you how to use the body fat callipers.

Measuring Tape. Again not a great representation of what’s truly going on and can be inconsistent as it’s hard to measure exactly same spot every time, but gives you somewhat of an idea. When measuring limbs make sure you jot down which side of the body you measured. So, personally if I use a tape measure I measure the girth of the neck, upper arm, waist, thigh and calf.

Clothes. Now.. clothes is actually not a bad tool to use, especially a good pair of jeans that don’t have much give in them. So personally I like using clothes as a means of measuring body composition.

Photos. Again, another great way to see your progress and can also be a very motivating way to see progress. Just make sure you take the photo at the same time of the day with the same lighting and back ground.

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