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Background

At my gym, I see many people weighing themselves while exercising. They are usually in their gym clothes, with shoes, socks, etc.

My immediate thought was that it's idiotic. This is because the clothes and shoes add to the body weight; also, the weight will fluctuate because of water intake, food consumption, etc.

Question

However, before dismissing this practice (or engaging some of these people about their goals), is there any reason (outside of not having a personal scale at home) where it's efficient or acceptable to weigh yourself while exercising?

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    I've done this before to accurately load chin-ups when I was experimenting with an intensity based progression scheme. – Alex L Sep 15 '15 at 2:08
  • @AlexL Can you give more explanation on how the weighing helped with the exercise? – Kneel-Before-ZOD Sep 15 '15 at 20:34
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    I would weigh myself after getting into my gym attire. I would then use this number plus the weight of the plates attached to the dip belt for weighted chin ups to get a total weight being lifted. On any particular day that I happened to be carrying extra water weight or if my clothes were heavier than normal, then I would be able to accurately load the dip belt so that the total weight was the same or only increasing by 5 pounds. It's more accurate to consider all the weight that you're lifting when setting up a set/rep or percent progression scheme (after all you done weigh 0 lbs!). – Alex L Sep 15 '15 at 23:16
  • Ahh....I see what you mean now.While I'm positive that most of these patrons weigh themselves for weight loss reasons (they visit the restroom afterwards, jump on the cardio machines, weightlifting, etc), your use case makes a lot of sense. Thanks. – Kneel-Before-ZOD Sep 15 '15 at 23:59
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Useful uses for the scale just prior or just after training

I can't answer for what people I've never observed have done, but there is at least one legitimate reason for weighing yourself just prior to training:

  • Check progress toward weight class in competition conditions (i.e. if I can pass the weight class in full gear I have nothing to worry about at weigh-ins)
  • Tracking progress when doing bodyweight exercises

Even though I primarily focus on training for power lifting, I still incorporate certain bodyweight exercises such as push ups, dips, pull ups, etc. For me a set ends when I can't get a another full rep in. If my reps go down, but my weight goes up it might still be a net improvement.

In either case, this number is kept separate from the weight I use for tracking general weight loss. My full gear weight can be up to 10 lbs heavier than my morning weight tracking due to water retention and the weight of the gear. The purpose of weighing myself just prior to training is simply for tracking my training progress--and is particularly important when I do body weight work.

Useful case for weighing yourself multiple times

The process of making weight for a competition sometimes requires dehydrating yourself just long enough to make your weight class. These people have already dieted down using normal means, and the effort to get those last couple pounds off means they have to sweat out or spit out the excess water until they hit the target goal.

During this time, the athlete will be weighing themselves multiple times to see how close to their goal they've become. After the athlete weighs in, they start the process of rehydrating and refeeding themselves so they can be in the best competitive shape (and more than their weigh-in weight by several pounds).

An athlete can reduce as much as 2-3% of their body mass safely using this process, but I've seen cases where it went poorly. A bad rehydration process cost a friend of mine several pounds on the platform as he had diarrhea. Trying to reduce more than your body can handle will require hospitalization to get back to proper health. Below are a few resources that detail the correct way to do this:

Scale addiction

There are those that go too far down the path of over-analysis. In that sense, the feedback from the scale is more like an addiction than it is useful feedback. While your weight can change during the course of a workout, it's usually not enough to impact anything. If you see someone getting on the scale several times during the course of a workout, they are most likely doing something very wrong.

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The key thing to track one's weight is consistency. If each day you weigh yourself on the same scale, wearing the same clothes, and with roughly the same food/water/excreta weight, you should be getting a acceptably consistent weight. You ARE correct that different exercises and water intake will significantly shift one's weight one way or another. Perhaps these individuals are carefully tracking their water-intake and output. There's also no harm in weighing yourself more often (so long as you take the appropriate number of 'grains of salt' with that measurement).

Also - if someone was trying to sweat-out a certain poundage on a treadmill (i.e. so they could 'make weight' as a boxer or MMA fighter)

Lastly, many people are dumb and assume that a 30-minute treadmill session will result in several pounds of fat loss, and they're trying to instantly see the results of their efforts.

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    Good points; however, I highly doubt that these folks weigh themselves for any other reason except for weight loss. And I believe that weighing yourself more often actually has a negative impact psychologically. Your weight will fluctuate, which will put most people in a nerve-wrecking state. Also, i think weighing yourself naked once a week or 2 weeks is an optimal timeframe. Even the MMA weigh-ins I've seen were done naked (they were covered by people while stepping onto the scales) – Kneel-Before-ZOD Sep 15 '15 at 20:39
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    I tend to agree with you - weighing yourself should be done in one of two ways: casually every few weeks, or go hardcore and track it daily in a spreadsheet, then add a weighted-average function to give you a better idea of what direction you're going in. – john3103 Sep 16 '15 at 16:23

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