I am looking for tools and procedures to keep track of changes in sizes of muscles. (or groups of muscles like upper arms and chest). (1)

How feasible is this? (2)

Are more subjective measures like photos better (3)

Can it be done without considering fatness? (4)

I am planning to measure fat in multiple locations with a caliper, and calculate total body composition at the same time. Ideally I would like to combine the numbers.

  • "A picture is worth a thousand words." Seriously! Oct 3, 2011 at 1:33
  • @ChrisPietschmann that comment would make a fine answer. Oct 3, 2011 at 20:38

2 Answers 2


There are established ways for externally measuring virtually every muscle group in the body, most of which require little more than a flexible tape measure. Based on this page:

  • Neck - Measure at the thinnest part, usually just under the chin, above the Adam's Apple.

  • Chest - three measurements:

    • Chest contracted (made as small as you can by completely exhaling)
    • Chest inflated (simply by inhaling all the air you can)
    • Chest expanded (by which you lift your thorax, widen your shoulders and bring the back muscles to a full state of expansion)

    The measurement should be taken with the tape across the nipples at the front and level elsewhere.

  • Waist - at the level of the navel, when standing normally upright with the chest normally lifted.

  • Hips - across the centre of the buttocks, with buttocks contracted (i.e., gluteus muscles flexed).

  • Upper arm - Two measurements:

    • Straight: around the thickest part while the arm is outstretched at shoulder level, muscles relaxed.
    • Flexed: arm at shoulder level and bent at the elbow with biceps fully contracted.
  • Forearm - taken with the arm outstretched, fist clenched, at the thickest part.

  • Calf -taken at its thickest part with the muscles contracted, usually by pointing the toes or by lifting one foot off the ground and then pointing the toes, thus contracting the calf muscles.

Note: All the measurements should be taken before you start exercising. By doing so you get what in body building language are called cold measurements. If you take them during or immediately after a training session, when the muscles are engorged with blood, considerable variations will occur.


"A picture is worth a thousand words." Seriously!

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