I've been trying to build muscle/burn fat/generally get in shape for the past two months, but I have not been noticing much difference in my appearance. I don't expect to have lost 10lbs, but I can at least tell I'm making a bit of progress because I can lift a little more or run a little longer.

I don't bother weighing myself since I figure that, since I'm both trying to burn fat and build muscle, my weight may not be an accurate representation of progress. Some people might try measuring their waist and keeping track of that, but most of my excess fat does not actually sit on my waist.

Are there any other methods I can use to try to keep track of my physical progress?


Some new context is that I've realized that my insulin resistance can affect my ability to burn fat. So, I may be building muscle, but not losing much fat, making it hard to see progress. With this in mind, what can I do?

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    You might find some help with this q/a fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/3421/… Apr 18, 2016 at 16:53
  • "Progress" is a relative term. It can mean different things to different people. Are you asking what other people use to measure their progress?
    – rrirower
    Apr 18, 2016 at 16:55
  • I guess how can I measure how much fat I've lost/muscle I've gained.
    – user20088
    Apr 18, 2016 at 17:11
  • This asks for tracking progress, while the other one asks for tips on a routine, so I think they are indeed related, but not duplicates.
    – user20088
    Apr 20, 2016 at 14:38
  • Are you tracking what you eat? You say you're building muscle, yet not losing fat. Unless you're dehydrating yourself, there's no where to go but up in weight. Your best option is to gradually (key word here) adjust your daily intake until you start losing again.
    – Alex L
    Apr 22, 2016 at 22:17

2 Answers 2


Take pictures. I assume you're still a beginner, hence trying to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. This is only achievable by beginners because the body is not used to the exercising/weightlifting yet.

Take pictures once a week/month to keep track of progress. The reason you don't see progress in the mirror is because you look at your daily progression and compare to yesterday. If you compare to last month and you lost 5lbs, you see the difference 5lbs made.

Another way is to check if your clothes still fit. Muscle is denser than fat, so your waist line will be smaller and your pants should start to feel loose.

  • The clothes fitting thing doesn't seem to be helping - my clothes seem to be getting smaller unfortunately. However, I have been thinking of taking photos, I just never got around to it.
    – user20088
    Apr 19, 2016 at 14:14
  • When I started working out, I had similar "issue" with clothes. My thighs got bigger and my chest/shoulders got a bit wider (or so it appeared) however clothes felt looser around my gut and waist. Of course YMMV and pictures is the best way to keep track of it. There are some applications (such as MyFitnessPal) that allows you to log your pictures (Along with Weight-Ins, but you don't want to weight yourself) if you don't want to manage your pictures on your own.
    – Yousend
    Apr 19, 2016 at 15:22

Hydrostatic weighing is your best bet. For roughly the price of a massage (typically less) a company will tell you your exact BF %.

You will have to google around to see if there is a company near you but if there is you can at least get a baseline and then reschedule for a follow up.

  • There is no exact measurement for body fat %. Hydrostatic weighing is, indeed, accurate, but not exact.
    – Alex L
    Apr 22, 2016 at 22:15